Friars Hill Traffic Report By Sarah Mansheim Managing Editor • Mountain Messenger


I’m tired. I look it, too. This morning I had to do the three-layer spackle method to cover up the dark circles under my eyes and I still look a bit undead. I didn’t sleep very well last night thanks to my two dogs, Max and Ruby, who relentlessly carried on all night long.
We crate them in the kitchen at night, which we have done all their lives. Last night, I awoke to Ruby, my hound-Pomeranian-who knows what, scooting her crate across the tile floor. Scraaaaaaaaape. Scraaaaaaaaape. Scraaaaaaaaape. She’s never done this before. Why start now? Who knows?
I woke up my husband. “Tom. Ruby keeps scraping her crate across the floor. Go see what’s the matter.”
So, he peeled the CPAP mask off of his face, got up and stumbled downstairs to make sure she wasn’t in any kind of physical distress.
“What’s wrong?” I asked when he got back.
“I dunno.”
Scraaaaaaaaape. Scraaaaaaaaape. Whatever. I’d drift off to sleep only to wake a short time later to the sound of metal against tile again. Scraaaaaaaaape.
Finally, she got herself lodged between the kitchen cabinets and the table and quieted down.
That’s when Max started barking. Max is a Cairn Terrier, a tiny, fierce hunter, his ancestors bred for centuries by the Scots to rid the planet of rats, squirrels and invisible goblins. Max has two great weapons: endless enthusiasm and a loud, high bark designed by nature to annoy any and all predators into submission.
Whatever he was defending the kitchen against last night must have had a high tolerance for noise. Max barked. And he barked. And he barked.
I woke up to him barking. I fell back asleep to him barking. I woke back up. And so on, and so on.
“Tom. What’s he barking at?”
“I dunno,” Tom mumbled through his machine.
I pulled a pillow over my head to muffle the noise. When I fell back asleep, I dreamed he was barking. On and on, ad infinum, into the witching hour, his terrier cry filled the kitchen, rising up to our bedroom, until, finally, 20 minutes before my alarm went off, he lay down and went to sleep.
When I got up this morning and went to the kitchen to let them outside, I didn’t speak to either one of them. I told myself to not scratch them behind their ears as I let them out of their crates, but I couldn’t help it, I gave them a bit of a rub, but, I didn’t tell them good morning. They were heartbroken, let me tell you. Just kidding. They didn’t care. They dashed out the kitchen door, knocking each other over, tails wagging.
Usually I let them back in right away, but this morning I just left them outside the kitchen door as they peered into the windows with their little puppy faces, ears cocked, eyes bright. I side-eyed them with contempt and went take a shower.
When you live in the country, you’re gonna have animals. You just get to pick what kind you’re going to have. In our house, we have dogs and cats. We don’t necessarily like them, but they are better than the alternative: without our pets, we would have mice, snakes, skunks, bears and deer. Now, I don’t know about you, but most days I’d rather have a dog or two in my yard, and a cat or three on the porch, than a snake in the attic and mice in the kitchen.
At least wild animals are quiet. Sure, they may eat your hostas and rhododendrons (deer-proof, lol) and chew through your cereal boxes and beeswax candles, but they do it noiselessly while you are at work or fast asleep in your nice, dark, silent house. I mean, have you ever heard a black snake slither into your bedroom? Of course not! Sure they’re intruders, and will scare the hell out of you when you find them, but at least they let you sleep.
So, if you happen to see two well-fed, big eyed dogs, one big and brown with inquisitive eyebrows, and one small and wheaten, in desperate need of a haircut, at the animal shelter this weekend, you know a choice was made.
To hell with the sleepless nights; I choose the wildlife.