After school, the kids enjoy running amok in our backyard. I like it.
I could live without our dachshund/Australian shepherd mix, Junie, barking her vocal chords into oblivion while the kids are playing. Because of her nature, she loves circling the kids as they tear around the grass, shouting orders at them.
Junie belongs on a ranch, not a suburban backyard.
Consequently, neighbors have complained about her barking over the years. Animal control has visited us, twice. She is much better now that she is older, but we remain hyper-vigilant about excessive barking. Certain activities make her barkier than others, including games of tag and light saber battles. I think she equates the whirl of noisy activity with a stampede of sheep heading toward a seaside cliff.
It must be stopped.
After school today, the kids were in the backyard spinning with an umbrella. This infuriated the Junie. I called her inside.
Three seconds later, a kid opened the door to shout to another kid they were missing out on all the fun. Junie escaped.
I called her inside.
Three seconds later, kid-left-out opened the door to join in umbrella twirling. Junie escaped.
I called her inside and told her to lie in her bed. She did, but she looked at me like I was smoking crack.
I heard the back door slide open. A kid came inside for a drink and Junie bolted for the door, barking commands to cease! Cease!
I followed, telling the kids to stop opening the door. I clapped and whistled for Junie to come inside.
“Get in your bed!” I ordered.
She complied, again, looking at me sidelong and panting.
I went to fill her water bowl, which she promptly began to lap.
We both heard it and looked at each other. The door, sliding.
A kid needed a toy. Junie saw her chance.
“Guys! Please! Keep the door closed!” I bellowed, becoming the Mom Who Bellows Out the Back Door. “Junie! COME!” I added as an before, during, and afterthought because I knew I’d be doing it again.
She did, reluctantly.
I locked the door to keep the kids outside. If they truly needed in, they’d bang and scream, “Mommy, you locked us out!” for all the neighbors to hear. I didn’t care.
I forgot about the kid still inside, who had been in his room. He decided to join the game of Capture the Umbrella and he took a furry black maniac with him.
This time, I got her to come in with just the look on my face. To punctuate, I raised my eyebrows and made eye contact with each and every kid in the yard, except the one hiding under the umbrella.
I slid the door shut like I was closing a hatch door on the sinking Titanic. Junie slunk to her bed.
I really thought it was over. I really thought I was done.
I had to take a puff from my inhaler.
I went upstairs. From my bedroom window came the frantic bawlings of our working dog. I think I could understand Dog for a split second. She was saying: “Your noises and colorful stick circle thing intrigue me, as does your frantic motion and convulsive dodging and flailing about in the grasses. I thank you for continually freeing me to join in the spectacle and pageantry of your Mother making an ass of herself in front of the neighbors! Please, mind my excrement there and there and there. Or don’t.”
I practically rolled down the stairs like a serial killer was after me.
I flung open the door and blustered, “WHO LET THE DOG OUT!?”
And they looked at me and laughed.
And I did, too.