Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Call of the Wild

During the Memorial Day Weekend in 1999 in my first summer while I was living in NJ, I was down in Raleigh visiting my family. Late one night, I was awoken to one of the most shrill, high-pitched, loudest howls I had ever heard. Normally I sleep deeply but on this night I was jolted out of my sleep and sat straight up in bed in sheer fright from what I heard. The howl was coming from my mom’s room. I’m usually bleary eyed and foggy minded when waking up, but this howling by Andy absolutely scared the hell out of me. There were many things crossing my mind when I first heard this, all of them bad. First, I thought Andy may have been hurt. Maybe he fell down and broke his leg somehow resulting in his being in excruciating and agonizing pain. Thinking one step ahead, I then thought a trip to the after-hours vet was in order for the night. Of course I also wondered if he was going to live at all by how blood curdling that howl was.
Second, I thought he was hurt but possibly by foul play. Could someone be in the house and have hurt my baby boy? Then I was worried about my mom as well. By this time, I was at DEFCON2. I was alert, ready and if necessary, would confront anyone who posed a threat to me, my family or the house. For those who didn’t see War Games, DEFCON is Defense Readiness Condition. DEFCON5 is peace while DEFCON1 would be full fledged war, WWIII.

All these thoughts and scenarios rushed in my head in merely seconds. I hopped out of bed, ran down the hall, flung my mom’s door open and turned on the lights. Lying peacefully in bed were my mom and Andy until I burst into the room. Andy popped his head up and started barking ferociously at me. My mom too lifted her head, and she too didn’t take too kindly to my entry. She scowled at me and yelled ‘what the hell are you doing, god damnit?’ Both of them slept through the whole ordeal! After I explained to her about Andy’s howling, my mom relaxed a little and started laughing. She had heard Andy do that so often that she doesn’t even notice it when he does it anymore.

Andy, too, had slept through the whole thing. This behavior was the equivalent ‘sleep talking’ for a canine. I would eventually catch Andy in the act a few times. He will usually twitch and his legs will be going through the motions of running while his mouth is howling at full pitch. All the while, his eyes are pinched shut and he is never aware of his ‘sleep howling’. It was a primordial howl and was as if he reverted back to a primitive state of his ancestors—wolves. As Andy grew older, the frequency of his night howls grew less and less. Also, when Andy moved to my condo a few years later, he never howled in his sleep while at my condo. Eventually, I would become used to Andy’s odd night time behavior, but on that night, my introduction to Andy talking in his sleep, I was scared shitless.

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