"Dogs at the Office" - by John R. Erickson

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 | By John R. Erickson

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            In the 1990s, our ranch’s Security Division had three employees: Sophie, Texie, and Bones.  They were dogs, of course, and dedicated employees.  They took their work very seriously and over the years, while they were on the force, we never lost a single tree or acre of land to thieves.  That was an amazing record.

            Every morning at 5:30 or 6:00, I made the one mile drive from our home in Picket Canyon to my office in an old bunkhouse.  Most days, the dogs went with me.  After spending the night in Kris’s padded lawn chairs on the porch, where they were forbidden to sleep, they began their workday with the sound of my pickup starting.  That was their cue.

            Driving to the office, I saw flashes of them in the headlights as they worked their way through the dark canyon, their noses to the ground.  On a few occasions they were detained.  One morning they got drawn into a Skunk Job that came up all of a sudden, and I beat them to the office, but that didn’t happen very often.  They seemed to take pleasure in getting down there before I did.

            I got the impression that the dogs thought they were contributing something to my writing effort, that they were somehow involved in it.  How else can you explain their fanatical devotion to being there every morning?  They must have thought it was important.

            Once there, they didn’t do much.  They loafed around in front of the bunkhouse, ears perked, waiting for a coyote to make some smart remark.  They were pretty hard on the coyotes and never allowed them to get the last bark.  

            When a pumper drove past, on his way to check the gas well north of the bunkhouse, they went into a Code Three Barks and warned him to keep moving.  But when he stopped to chat, they were good about rescinding the Code Three and letting him into the office, though they frisked him and checked the ID on his pant legs.

            Sometimes, to break my routine, I got up out of my chair and walked out on the porch to stretch my legs and enjoy a glimpse of sunrise in the canyon.  If Sophie was nearby, her eyes came straight to me and gave me the same message:  “You want me to come inside?”  We’d been going through this for years, and the answer was always “no.”

            I didn’t want her inside.  It was nothing personal.  I liked Sophie.  She was a wonderful dog and I admired her work with the Security Division, but I knew from past experience what she would do if I let her inside. 

            She would go straight into the bathroom and lap water from the pot.  She always drank too much, and she would walk into my office, burp, and deposit water on my floor. 

             We’d had talks about this.  I tried to explain that if she would just give up the pot, we could share the office, but she wouldn’t do it.  It seemed to be a compulsion with her, so she had to office outside.

            Texie would have loved to come inside too, but she was even less welcome than Sophie.  Texie was a nervous, neurotic little mutt who couldn’t control her bladder.  At the slightest rebuke, she made puddles.

            The only one of the three who was welcome to share my office space was Bones.  She was a great companion and had no bad habits, but she refused to come inside, even when I tried to coax her.  I never understood why.  I could tell that she felt guilty about it, but she wouldn’t come in.

            On the whole, our system worked pretty well.  The dogs took care of Traffic and Coyotes, and I handled the writing.  Now and then, they furnished material for a funny story, such as this one, so maybe they really were helping me with my writing.



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