(Or… Is Jacques Still Outside??)
Neither Niko nor Rocky were really outside dogs. They went outside to take care of business and, unless I was outside with them, would typically want back in the house soon after they were done. (Unless I left the back door open… then they would wander in and out of the house coming to check on me every so often.) It might have been the Shepherd in them which made them want to stay close to their person. Or it could’ve been that I somehow turned them into pansies who didn’t like to brave the elements unless they absolutely had to. (My husband would vote for the latter.) Whatever.
I’m not sure when or how it started, but Niko and Rocky developed a “system” of letting me know when they were ready to come back inside. Niko would paw at the door a few times, wait, then paw at the door again until I came to let him in. Rocky, in his younger days, simply barked incessantly (and he had a LOUD, booming bark). As he got older, he added head butting the door to his barking – apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough so he added the head butt for emphasis. Whatever the method, I always knew when they were ready to come back in and even if I didn’t hear them, I could always see them sitting by the door when I walked by.
And then there’s Jacques – who couldn’t be more different if he tried. Jacques LOVES to be outside. He would stay out there for hours if we let him… and we’ve come close to doing that.
This is a good time for a disclaimer – Jacques has never been left outside for any lengthy period of time. Trust me, this dog is not mistreated, nor does he suffer… regardless of his mumbling and grumbling.
Anyway, back to what I was saying. Jacques loves to be outside. Unfortunately, he hasn’t grasped the idea of making noise at the back door to let us know when he’s ready to come in. And, he’s pretty small and hard to see when he actually does come to sit by the door. All of this has led to more than one “Is Jacques still outside?” exchanges between my husband and me (or even with myself). It goes something like this – and honestly, the roles can and have been reversed:
Me: “Where is Jacques?”
Husband: “I don’t know… I think I let him out earlier.”
Me: “Is Jacques still outside?”
Husband: (laughing) “Oops.”
This was the scene this morning: I was walking through the house and realized I hadn’t seen Jacques for a little bit. I looked in his normal nap spots and didn’t see him. I had a brief moment of panic and then thought, “Crap! Jacques is still outside!” I flung open the back door, but Jacques wasn’t sitting there. He was around the side of the house sunning himself. I laughed. I might have felt a little guilty too but since he was no worse for wear I figured no harm, no foul. And, he wasn’t think slightest bit interested in coming back inside after I found him, so…
Since Jacques isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed (it did take a year to teach him to speak), I doubt he’ll be learning any “Hey! I’m ready to come inside!” signals anytime soon. So after 16 years of big, noisy dogs announcing their intentions, it looks like my husband and I are going to have to retrain ourselves to look for the little, quiet guy who never complains when we ask “Is Jacques still outside?”