I woke up with what felt like a penis pressed against my ankle. I slowly inched my leg away. I’m pretty sure it nuzzled closer. I was afraid to look.
“Doodle?” I asked.
The doxie sprang to life, underneath the covers. Oozing out, like a naked mole rat, burrowing toward daylight. Pops out his little red bed head. Squinty almost-morning eyes.
Ball, his second best friend (after me,) was clenched tightly in his jaws as he thrashed against the tangle of great grandma’s quilt.
Doodle and Ball emerged together, victorious, into the orange glow of near-daylight.
Those two often spent the night together, under the covers - Ball snuggled up inside Doodle’s canines. I worry my doxie will get doggie TMJ (Temporomandibular Disorder) from all that night clenching.
Inching closer, the doxie’s mouth stretches tight around bright purple Ball in a silly grin.
With Ball, he morning stretches. Doggie yoga. Butt up– downward dog.
Then, the ultimate sign of trust, in one smooth move, he yawns and Ball drops onto my lap for safekeeping.
Inching closer - red paws on my chest. Clossseeerrrrrr… dinky doxie face expands, overshadowing my face. He stares deep into my soul. Dog breath on human skin. Nose to snout. His snout, my ear, for one quick wakeup kiss.
Then, the beginning and the end. That moment I live for. Doodle wraps his paws around my neck for the good morning I love you wakeup hug. And officiates the day.
“What was that pressed up against my leg?” I ask him.
Eyes on mine, intently. A squirrely mischievous glow. He must have understood, because he dodged under covers and rummaged around at my feet. Triumphantly, he emerged with a squeaky toy, a turtle named Turd - gaudy goose poo green. Doodle’s third best friend in all the world, after me and Ball.
“Oh Doodle! You brought me your Turd! What a good boy!”
I wave and squeeze Turd overhead. Swirly, girly high pitched squeal echoes at sunrise. Doodle, possessed by that sound. Insto-Dog! Despite the hour.
I heave that toy with all I’ve got - across the room, over the couch and the bearskin rug – and he lands just inside old warpy farmhouse windows. And the blinding backlit glow of our closest neighbor. Our River - the Columbia.
Doodle is skying - mid air, ears flapping back - doxie Superman! Lights and sirens! In hot pursuit of flying Turd. Patching out on hardwoods. Tumble turns, side slides, to roll-over recovery - just like an all-pro barefoot water skier.
“Doxie retriever!! Doot- Doodle doo!!!” I bugle proudly, in my jammies.
Doodle roots around the living room. A Gorge granite cliff observes quietly in the distance - that distinctive chiseled face of our neighbor, Syncline Man, a.k.a. Coyote Wall Syncline, a volcanic masterpiece of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
Another deep dilemma awaits Doodle’s return with the Turd. Which BFF to coddle now? We’re all in bed together, competing for attention:
Bright purple bouncy Ball.
Loud-mouthed neon Turd with the cartoony joker smile.
And me. Dog mom and windsurfing and paddle boarding partner. Random roaming of dog and girl on Mount Hood forests and trails. Rambling dog beach at the Hood River sandbar.
Just inside the view of all those great places to get lost, and find yourself… Doodle chases his bff’s around our house for hours.
Sometimes Ball rolls underneath the couch, or gets trapped behind wood-burning stove and OMG! All Is Lost! The doxie barks and paces and howls and sounds the alert our closest neighbors, a half-mile away, can hear. Life only resumes when Ball is back in bed, tucked safely inside doxie jaws again.
Sometimes I find Turd lurking under another of our roommates, claw foot tub.
There’s the morbidly obese calico who takes up the rest of our bed.
And the quirky quail covey that mows the front lawn.
And Syncline Man at the window, smiling at sunrise, frowning at dusk. Watching over Lady Columbia, our wild and scenic river. The historic Columbia – the Lewis and Clark one.
Bright orange wolf moon glow. Our own galaxy of night lights, standing guard over old Blue, our 1907 farmhouse. Who, in turn, watches over dogs ‘n friends inside.
Circle of life on our dead end road. To nowhere. To everywhere.