`Twas a dog day in August

By TIM BEELAND,

This is the “tail” of a rain dance by Henry and Henrietta as performed beneath the light of the shimmering moon. My apologies in advance to Clement Clarke Moore, the author of the original.

`Twas a dog day in August when all through the house not a creature was stirring — well maybe a mouse.

And me in my birthday suit and mom in her gown had just drifted off to sleep — one we hoped would be sound.

When out on the lawn we heard such a clatter that I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. I flung open the door and picked up a stick, banging it on the doorsteps yelling stop, stop,  please quit.

With the moon shining brightly on the freshly mowed lawn, Henry and Henrietta, two yard dogs, appeared, chasing their shadows ‘till dawn.

Dancing in the grass as if to conjure up rain, they barked, and they barked, and they barked once again, while I thought to myself this just must be my brain.

Back to bed I went and whispered to my wife, “there’s a bright moon out tonight and those dogs are in a fright.”

It was the second of such nights filled with all of this this silliness, I whined, and the moon won’t be completely full for two more, that’s a crime.

“You, too, were out there beneath that bright light,” the wife, she exclaimed, and with a giggle and a grin added, “chasing those dogs in a circle — a part of their dance — and with no clothes on to boot, you crazy old coot.”

Indeed it had been two nights of the strangest barking one has ever heard, and as we lay in bed struggling to keep our eyes closed I could not for the life of me figure out what those two dogs were after in the front yard. It sounded as if they were chasing some critter all over our hill barking frantically all the while. Birds are some of their favorites to run after, but they don’t fly much at night so it couldn’t be them, I thought. They also set their sights on the yard cats on occasion, but they usually dash under the house and out of reach so that parade ends pretty quickly. This charade, however went on, and on, and on.

The night prior I had also flung open the front door to see what was going on but did not notice any dancing out on the lawn. Likely because the inside dogs took up the cause as soon as they heard the latch on the door and I turned my attention to them in their dressing room kennel.

On that second night, though, I could see clearly what was happening. Wife Danny had already noticed Henry chasing his shadow a few weeks earlier and told me the same. I had not yet seen this action, but had months ago commented that Henrietta was just plain goofy as she loped around the yard, jumping into the air and floping herself down on the ground. Last Tuesday night as I watched from the porch and marched into the yard — unclothed, yes that part’s true but it’s been so very hot — they looked almost surreal.

They were swift in their motions and as the moon cast their shadows in one direction or the other they flipped in the air barking crazily darting out across the lawn and back. They would fly around the exterior of the house, barking wildly, and flop down on the ground only to spring back up and start all over again. They were possessed I am certain.

Back inside, I thought about what I had seen and the first thing that came to mind was some kind of native dance. And, since it had been so hot and dry at that point last week I figured it most certainly had to have been a rain dance, and relayed that theory to my weary wife in the middle of the night. In the end I suppose it was just that, and I reckon it worked too since it came a nice downpour Wednesday morning.

I am afraid, though, that we’re going to have get this little matter fixed by the next full moon — rain or no rain — or there most certainly will be some dash away dog, dash away dog, dash away dog, going on!