I put the dogs to bed and was lotioning my legs last night when Sadie and Tessa started barking downstairs from the back porch/mud room. There are range cattle about (including an adorable pure white calf whom I’ve seen several times as I’ve driven to and fro), and Spackle had been extremely barky down toward the road at last piddle—I assumed at beeves—and so I resolved to finish my second leg before doing anything. Cows can be annoying, but mostly when they're being barked at and I was hoping the girls would just stop.
I finished my legs but the barking hadn't even slowed and, starting to think now about just how far away from community I was here in this wilderness, with a brief consideration of A’s 22 and where she’d said she kept it (I wasn’t sure I remembered), I wrapped my kikoy around me and went to investigate.
"It's nothing, you silly things," I said, peeking in at them through the door to the back porch, hoping this was true. "It's cows. Go to sleep."
But they would not go, and Sadie in particular was barking with vim and purpose (Tessa was barking with vim and fear).
They came out of the back porch with me and into the kitchen, and Sadie made a beeline for the front door, barely pausing for the breath needed to maintain her barrage of noise.
Catching Tessa’s alarm and not at all comforted by Sadie’s indignant outrage, I turned on the front porch light, stepping to the side of the glass-paned door, trying to keep myself hidden from any possible intruders-to-be. Sadie stared out intently into the yard.
"It's just my reflection you see, you silly dog," I said uncertainty, trying myself to peer past that reflection and through the prism glass. "Look," I said, and, screwing my courage to the sticking point, made myself to open the door. "There's no one there."
But there WAS someone there.
Shadow, who had removed herself from her pen through a gate I had inadvertently left unfastened, was enjoying a midnight snack. I'm now sure it was she Spackle was barking at earlier. When he failed to enlighten me as to her truancy though, Shadow, taking matters into her own hooves, had come up to the house and the measliest patch of weeds you’ve ever seen, its one advantage being that it was the only place visible in the light from the front door. She knew Sadie would not rest until I had battened her back down for the night.
Shadow put on a half-hearted show of evading me in the dark, and then walked docilely beside me, halterless, back to her pen, where she pushed back through her gate and stood quietly while I called her a silly horse, scratched her neck, and latched her in.