Small Paws 

‘How are you this morning?’ Came the message from my husband, as I knew it would, just as I was trying to usher dogs into the car and manage bags and leads and coins at the same time.

‘OK for now,’ I replied, ‘but it has been chaos since 4.30 am.’

I may have exaggerated. It may not have been chaos, but I had been awake for over two hours by the time he sent the message at 6.30 am.

Being at that age, I often wake during the night and get up to go to the loo, but sometimes it is just to close the window and stop the cold draught or even sometimes just to reach out and squeeze a furry thigh lying near me – Lucy inevitably moves up the bed during the night until she ends up on the pillow next to me and atop her beloved dad’s head.

I had no reason to think that I would not get straight back to sleep when I rolled over and noticed the time was 4:04 am but half an hour later I was beginning to wonder whether I should get up and have some warm milk, which is what I try when I have tried everything else.

This morning, though, I was going to be thwarted. As I opened the fridge door, a memory flashed through my mind, of tiny white specs in my tea yesterday. Gingerly, I lifted the open bottle to my nose and my worst fears were confirmed: the milk was off.

Now, a hot milky drink became the only thing I wanted and after staring glumly at a carton of cream for a minute before accepting it was not going to thin out, I went into the back fridge and reached for one of my husband’s iced coffees.

While coffee might seem counter productive, these milky drinks are more sugary that caffeine-ridden and it was the sugar that was more of a worry. I poured a small amount into the bottom of a mug and heated it in the microwave.

By the time I realised that what essentially amounted to a heated milkshake was not going to work, I had already sold myself the idea of a cleansing black tea, with a slice of lemon and this was the next drink I prepared.

It was revolting as well, but it got me to 6 am.

Archie was, as usual hiding under the table to avoid having his halter put on and I was so concerned with trying to line him up to step into it that I must not have noticed that I stepped on his back paw. He squealed in such distress that I felt awful and hugged him for about ten minutes apologizing and checking all his little paws worked OK before trying to get the halter on him again.

So yeah, pretty busy but perhaps not chaotic. It was a lot calmer this evening in the park on their second walk -until the heavens opened and I sat with them under the tin roof of a pergola, waiting for the huge cloud to pass over as it dropped fat raindrops loudly above us.

A friend from the park appeared unexpectedly with her two Red Setter dogs. I wondered what had brought her all the way over, until she dropped casually into the conversation that she had a new arrival at home. Her new puppy, Murphy had moved in a couple of days ago and she was enjoying broken nights’ sleep as she settled him in and kept an eye on his nocturnal needs.

It did not take long to persuade her that if he was not allowed in the park yet, Lucy and Archie should at least pay their compliments with a house visit and that as I was attached to Archie by a lead, I should come too.

We found him, blinking softly in the lounge room having just woken up from a nap, which will not doubt allow him to raise hell in the small hours of the morning. He was perfect, a tiny version of his older housemates, about the same size as my two for the moment and curious to say hello and have his ears tickled. His four fat red paws stayed planted on the rug as he sucked up the attention.

We did not stay for too long as I did not want to stress him out, but if both his owner and I are again awake at 4am tomorrow, I know who will be getting the better deal. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Murphy.

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