Last night, we were out on the back porch, enjoying the evening cool. The days are no longer blazing hot, but you have to wait until dark for the mosquitoes to go to bed. And then you can go outside and listen to the owls and the whispering of anonymous night creatures. The empty lot next door, which has been reclaimed by Mother Nature, houses unknown beings. Sometimes it seems like our little wire fence is the only thing keeping the lions and the tigers and the bears at bay. We heard the rustling of branches and tree leaves, followed by a hollow thud, as if some large animal had fallen out of a tree. It sounded big. It was probably just a possum. Or if it was a mythical hell-beast, at least it was one of the clumsy ones.
Suddenly, from inside, came a rough bark. Remix is not a frequent barker. In fact, it took so long for her to bark when we first got her that we were worried that her previous owners had removed her bark box. She progressively got more and more vocal as she lived longer with us, but most of her communication was more like conversation. I can't speak for all pitbulls, but ours can be very whiny. Finally, one day, she did bark, and it was a great big scary bark, just the kind that will reach the ears of anyone who might be lurking outside and make them think twice about breaking and entering.
We weren't lurking, but we figured we should go check out what our dog was trying to tell us. We went back inside to assess the situation. She was standing near the back door, looking towards the kitchen. There was a rattling noise coming from the stove. It was the pot of rice, about to boil over, the lid rattling from the force of the steam. Oh, time to turn down the temperature.
I went over to lower the heat and stir the rice. It took a second, but then I suddenly realized: GOOD DOG! A pot of water boiling over or a cup of ruined rice is no big deal, which is why I hadn't worried about going outside while the rice was on the stove. But anytime the dog wants to let me know that there is a potentially dangerous situation going on in the house, then that is just fine with me.
She was quickly rewarded. There were treats, butt scratches, and a game of tug with a stuffed manatee, as if she had just mastered a new trick after weeks of training. But one of the great things about dogs is that you don't have to teach them to protect their packs.