"What time is it?"
I reach behind me for the phone cord, fishing it up like a line at the bottom of a well. I press a button to illuminate the screen and squint at the bright light.
"Five forty?" I tip the light towards his looming brown eyes. "Seriously?"
He answers by stepping in the inside cove of my hip, forcing an involuntary sit up.
"It is too early."
I flop down and shove the pillow over my head.
A wet nose burrows under.
"If I feed you will you let us sleep?"
His ears perk, I drop the phone back into the depths, and roll out of bed, skipping the glasses all together.
Bam! I stumble, cursing.
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! What the hell?!"
This is a regular routine. While I do this every night, I still happen to forget I leave his crate door open, consequently causing early morning cursing and more bruising to my limbs.
Food bowl is filled, I flop back in bed.
Thirty minutes go by, I get another face lick.
This time I just start laughing.
"I know all you want is for me to be awake, and the minute I get up, you're going to start yawning. Come here you cute dog." I pull Orion over and rub his ears.
"What do you think we should do today? Dog park? Tomorrow you get to play with your favorite cat, but today, we have to decide what to do."
Orion lowers his elbows onto my rib cage. For a moment I can't breath. I pull an arm, that had snuck back under the covers, out, and grab for the curtain string. Distracted, Orion frees me to stare out the window.
Unintentionally, I doze off again.
"Oh, right. Good morning best friend dog. Yes, I'm having trouble getting up. Thank you. Yes, thanks, I think I may have missed a spot in last nights shower... okay!" Back out of bed. Fill the food ball up, head to the bathroom to snag a shower, confident the food ball should keep him out of trouble for the brief time he is unsupervised.
At the dog park I watch Orion sprint after his favorite chocolate lab Oliver as they race after ducks in the "back forty". I smile as I know he is in heaven, full sprint, hot on pursuit. There's a moment where I don't know if it's pursuit of ducks, or pursuit of Oliver, but the expression is the same level of excitement. That's the thing with owning this dog, he is in a perpetual state of happy dog. His tail flops side to side on walks. His ears perk for treats. He blissfully destroys cardboard, plastic, toys, shoes... and so on. But he is happy and I can't help but feel happy too.
As I look the two labs are making laps in the back stream. Oliver appears to do a face plant but is quickly up again, water flying around. I'm not sure if there is an objective here so much as validation that these two dogs are water dogs. And then they're back, flying down the field to come say hi, slamming into our legs, shaking out their wet fur, chewing on each others faces.
We stop in at Auntie Lynn's. Laundry and breakfast and good company. Orion runs in the house, sliding to a stop at Lynn's feet. Bobbing up and down, butt wiggling side to side, he gives Lynn a handful of kisses. "Well hello Orion," she says, and pats his head. Then he's off, exploring every crevice of the house he just visited last week. Who knows, maybe something's missing, something's new.
Like usual, I look up to see him carting Lynn's shoe across the living room.
"Orion, drop it."
I wander after him.
"You need to be a little more firm with him," Lynn says behind me. "Give it here Orion! Drop it!" He drops the shoe, Lynn collects it and puts it back. Orion walks up to her and starts licking her hand again. "I'm not mad at you, but you need to leave that shoe alone." Lick. Lick.
"I think the trouble is that he knows inside, I'm giggling at him. I think it's funny and I just can't help it," I say. "I don't know how I'll ever do it if I have actual kids."
"You turn your body away so they can't see you smile."
Then were back at the dog park, the leash becomes a chew toy. Orion and Oliver race up and down the grass way side-by-side attached to the leash. Then they're sumo wrestling, in the air, on the ground. Orion lays down to roll over and chew on Oliver's neck. Getting lazy. Jack, the rescue wild dog, runs up and chases Orion off. Butt tucked, Orion does a loop and is back, barking at Jack to chase him again. Jack, the sheriff of the group, seems to roll his eyes at this yellow dog barking in his face, then makes an effort to seem menacing with a jump bark, that only results in another loop. Before too long, Orion pauses, turns around, and bolts for the center of the gated area. I am wondering what has possessed him to leave the fun of Oliver and Jack only to see him flop in the water. Oh my water dog. He lays there, poised, presumably thinking we don't notice the white dog that is frozen in his "Mexican Standoff". Moments pass and his paws start moving in slow motion. He's creeping.
"Yep, don't see you. Hum, Bob, have you seen that yellow lab around?"
He keeps creeping.
Oliver pauses, dips his head. They both freeze.
Then as if a gun goes off Orion flies forward and jumps on Oliver. And they're off again, tumbling through the mulch.
Piling into the car, I tuck Orion's blanket into the seat edges.
"Is that his seatbelt?" Bob asks behind me.
"Yeah. I'd die if he wasn't hooked in. Every now and again I get lazy and it's a miracle we're not dead yet as he climbs all over the place."
I hook Orion in, jump in the front seat, and before the car's even started Orion's curled up, out cold.
"I'd say it was a good dog day huh Orion?"
An eye opens.
I smile back at him.