I feel the dog’s big paws shake the bed, and I pry open my eyes. I am lying on my right side facing the window. Dawn’s light filters through the narrow blinds like an unwelcome searchlight, and all I can make out is the black shadow of Burt’s head peering at me over the edge of the pillow. He sneezes in my face.
I reach out from under the covers and scratch behind his ears and feel his rough tongue on my hand.
“You want to go outside?” I whisper. He gives me his special snort and bounces up and down a couple of times on the side of the bed.
I swing my feet out from under the blanket and sit up on the edge of the bed. The oscillating fan sweeps around for another pass, and the cold mountain air chills my bare knees. My watch tells me that it six A.M., August 22, 1997. California days are hot this time of year, but the nights get cold two thousand feet above the Sacramento Valley. Burt licks my foot. Where are those socks?
I feel around the chair by the side of the bed and find yesterday’s shirt and a wrinkled pair of slacks. A guest should be at least partially clad before wandering around the house.
Revise that. I’ve been made part of the family. The dog has decided this. I am content. Once Burt’s harness is secured, I open the back door and he bolts through the opening into the back yard. I know how he feels. I bolt through the partially opened bathroom door down the short hallway and stub my toe on the spring doorstop.
“Thor….rm.” So much for silence. Burt sneezes again.