Moments with Cedric — Cold Comfort

It looked impossible. But he was determined to give it a try. Where to begin? Oh. Maybe this lever was what loosened up the water. Yes! Success was his!

Or was it? The water was hot. No hotter! No, waaaayyy too hot! If he wasn’t careful, he’d burn himself.

Or flood the floor. Would you look at that? Some careless person had left the stopper in the sink, beneath a load of dirty dishes, and now this extra water threatened to reach the top of the sink. What to do?

He slowly stretched himself over the sink, moved the lever back to the off position, and sat back down, confused and exhausted. Sighing, he wondered what he ought to do next.

Maybe the lever moved a different way. What if he turned it to the right this time, instead of to the left, as he had before. In the past, he had seen the housekeepers move the lever around before filling glasses with water they drank immediately. So, this was an idea definitely worth trying. He was glad he had thought of it. In fact, he was beginning to feel a smile trying to move across his face. Pride. Yep. He was proud that he had thought of that.

Before he started this complicated operation, he’d move the faucet over to the other side, so that it wouldn’t flood the sink. Perhaps he could have dug out the stopper himself and refilled the dish sink with hot soapy water. But that really wasn’t his job. He’d leave it for someone else to do.

Stretching over the sink for the second time, he moved the lever to the right and watched a steady stream of cooling – no, actually cold, Thank the Lord! – water flow into the empty sink and down the drain. He leaned closer, feeling the water splash onto his face before he started lapping it up. Now that was good! He’d drink as much as he could while he had the chance.

He hadn’t drunk water this good for several days. Because the housekeepers hadn’t been doing their job. Specifically, the shorter housekeepers. The ones who kept promising the two tall ones that they would keep his water and food dishes cleaned and filled.

A couple of days earlier, an insect had crawled into his water dish and drowned. Whereas it had been interesting to him while it had lived, now that it was dead, he wanted nothing more to do with it. Yet, he couldn’t get away from it. That stupid, useless insect had been dead in his water dish for two solid days, it was beginning to smell, and the only ones to notice it were himself and his sister-dog. But what could they do?

Well, now that he had mastered the fine art of helping himself to his own water at the kitchen sink without help from anyone, maybe he could solve this problem, too.

He had seen the housekeepers pour a little bit of that reddish-pink slime into the dishes they wanted to clean. Although he wasn’t sure exactly what it did, he had to admit that the dishes were much more pleasant to eat from once the old food and old smells had been washed away. He’d have to stretch a little more to reach it.

Or not. Now he had just managed to knock it over like any clumsy oaf, which anyone with a brain who knew him, knew that he was not.

But look at that! A little dribble had escaped from the container. That was probably enough to do the job.

He left the sink to try to retrieve his water bowl from the floor. It moved this way. Then the other. Never the right way, though!

Also, as he tried to move the dish, there was a horrific, scraping noise emanating from the bottom of it as it moved across the floor. Was it scraping the floor? he wondered.

He waited a moment, letting the quiet settle in all around him, then tried again. The noise showed up again, right on time – exactly in time to his moving the dish. Even though the house was pretty quiet, that screeching noise was enough to wake some of the housekeepers. He’d have to be careful. They weren’t always happy when he, as they put it, “stole” their sleep.

Why this was such a big deal he could never understand. It wasn’t like anyone was careful about his sleep. That’s what catnaps – oops, he meant to say “DOGnaps”—were for. So your sleep is interrupted! What do you do? Well, Cedric thought, you simply waited for the world to get quiet again, then you found a new comfy spot. That’s what!

Or perhaps you could steal an old one that one of your people had thoughtfully warmed for you. That’s what he had done last night after his people had turned off the loud box and left the big front room, but before they actually went on to bed. The big, soft, red platform-thing had several warm spots to choose from, and he chose one close to the big lump on the end, where he could rest his head comfortably, while still keeping his ears open to anything out of the ordinary.

Right before his people had called him to bed, he had finally sunk into a beautiful sleep. But was he angry? Was he disappointed that his beautiful “beauty sleep” had been interrupted?

No. He was just glad to have his own pack of people to call him. They weren’t a bad sort. In fact, on some days – like yesterday when they made homemade cookies and gave him some of the raw dough without his having to remind them to do it – they were almost pretty good. They hugged him when he needed affection, let him share their beds, and each of them gave him tasty bits of food whenever they thought none of the others was looking.

So, when his beautiful sleep was interrupted, he pasted on the biggest smile he could dig out of his collection, wagged his tale proudly, and trotted off to join his girl in her room for the night. You wouldn’t find Cedric complaining over anything so petty as interrupted sleep. No, Sir!

But these people! Once they were awake, awake they stayed. Regardless of his many invitations to lie down with him and just relax. In spite of his excellent example of returning-to-sleep on command. Over the last few weeks, he had done everything in his power to teach them how to relax. If they had been paying attention, they might have learned something.

Still, knowing how much they seemed to value their precious quiet-in-the-dark-with-their-eyes-sealed-shut-and-no-one-talking-to-them time, he wanted to respect their wishes as much as he could. Because he loved them. And, as everyone knows, love is a powerful motivator. Yes. He loved them too much for interrupt their sleep just to ask for a convenience he could just as easily do without now that he had learned the inner workings of the kitchen water.

However, the dead bug was still polluting his water dish. If he could do anything at all to get rid of it, he sure wanted to do it!

Could he move his paws under it? Maybe if he angled his right front paw this way, so that one or two of his claws could slide under the dish—What in the world was that awful noise?!

His water dish was moving, but not in a way he had seen it moving before: it was circling a little sideways, bouncing first off this bottom edge, then that, and spilling water nonstop. Yet, while keeping the dead bug safely inside it! How was that possible?

But he had better quit while he was ahead. Glancing carefully around him, he decided that – just in case one of his people did wake up – he would do better to look asleep. As quickly as he dared, he moved back to the red platform-thing, bounded up to it, turned a small circle, and tucked his head against his chest right before half-closing his eyes. The sun was just peeking over the edge of the horizon, and he knew that one of the taller ones, who liked her time alone, would be coming down the hall soon. Thanks to his quick thinking – and even quicker, quiet movements – he was able to instantly look like he had been sleeping here for hours. Instead of the few seconds he had actually been there. Slowing his breathing, he was satisfied that he was now able to pull off the old sleeping-dog-just-waking-up-right-now routine he had been perfecting for the last several weeks.

And here she was – THE MOMMY – smiling hugely as him, as she leaned over to hug him, chanting, “Good morning, good morning, good morning Ceddie! Good to see you! Good to see you! Good to see you! How are you today?”

Of course, he couldn’t answer. But, although he heard this same waterfall of cheerful words almost every day, he never got tired of hearing them.

Smiling his biggest smile, he blinked a couple of times, then led her into the kitchen.
THE MOMMY stared at his half-empty water dish, now surrounded by a small puddle of dirty water. “Ceddie!” she began, wrinkling her nose as she noticed the dead bug that he had tried for so long to avoid, “I am soooo sorry! There’s a nasty dead bug in your water dish. That must be so gross for you. Let me clean that.”

Still smiling, she leaned down and picked it up with one hand, easy as pie. Cedric watched, amazed, even though he had seen the whole thing hundreds of times before.

While she was washing it out in the sink, her eyes fell on the spilled pink mess still leaking from the bottle behind the sink.

“Looks like someone else made another mess for me to clean,” she chirped, trying to frown. “You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you, Doggie-love?”

Cedric tried not to smile as he said nothing.

The dish was clean and she was filling it with the cool, fresh water he had been wanting.
“Here you go, Sweet Darling!” She scratched him behind his ears right before he stooped for a long drink.

Now that was good! It was going to be another great day, he could tell. Surrounded by people he loved, and mostly liked, he felt thankful to be alive. His was a dog’s life to be sure. But he was glad to have it.

The End

This time last week, Dear Readers, I was a little afraid that last week’s “Moments with Cedric” column was about to shrink to “A Moment with Cedric” – or, worse, “A Soon-Forgotten Moment with Cedric”. Then my son, “Damien” helpfully mentioned something about our dogs while I was washing dishes, thus sparking the idea for this new story. Thank the Lord for that!

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