Last Friday, my wife and I arrived home just before midnight after spending the evening at the movie theater. As always, there was Scout to greet us as we opened the door. With only one child still living at home, Scout gets less and less attention and I often feel bad for him and his spending more and more time alone. “Good boy Scout” I tell him as I rub his head and scratch him behind his ears. He closes his eyes and tells me, “oh yeah, that is the spot, that feels great.” He has been alone all evening, so I tell, “come on boy, let’s get you outside”. He protests at first and its obvious he does not want to go outside. I can’t blame him. After hours of boredom, there is finally activity in the house and Mom and Dad are likely to start snacking before they go to bed, food just may hit the floor and be Scout’s to claim. As I open the front door and turn on the porch light, he just looks at me and pleads with his eyes to not make him go out in the sub-freezing night air. “Alright Scout, I’ll stay by the door, make it quick and I’ll let you back in shortly.” He complies and heads out into the cold night. A quick pit stop works for me too. It’s late and I’d like to hit the sack myself. I start thinking about a warm bed and a good book. But I know I’ll only get through about 1 paragraph before my wife pokes me to get me to stop snoring. Sleep will come quickly. Okay Scout, lets hurry up. I guess he decided to explore a bit. He obviously decided to stay out longer, so I go to get ready for bed and give him more time outside. 10 minutes later, my breath is fresh from toothpaste and I’m wearing my flannel PJ pants and a Life-is-Good T-shirt. Strange that Scout has not started barking wanting back in. I’m sure he is waiting patiently by the door. As I peer out the window, I don’t see Scout. I step out into the cool night and call for him, no response. We have 4 acres encapsulated by a buried invisible fence, so it’s very possible he is in the back of the property and I just don’t see him. I call again but get no response. After 40 minutes of calling and peering into the darkness, I realize he has braved the shock of the collar and ventured beyond the electric fence. In all of his 9 years, he has never crossed the barrier of a heart stopping electric bolt. Even though I am frustrated by the adventure seeking pouch, I decide to unplug the electric fence to remove the incentive to stay out longer than necessary. I then crawl in bed and hope to get some sleep before Scout wakes me barking at the door. “Aren’t you going out to find him?” My wife asks. “Nope” is my reply, “I don’t’ want the neighbors calling the police because someone is roaming the streets with a flashlight.” “good night” I tell her and I quickly drift into a deep sleep. Three hours later I wake up for no apparent reason other than a strong feeling that Scout is back and waiting by the door. A quick trip to the front door reveals my intuition to be correct. Scout greets me like nothing has happened, “hey dad, what’s up, I think I’ll go to bed now” was all he had to say for himself. “Okay Scout, go to bed, but we’re going to discuss this in the morning,” I tell him. He seems indifferent to this comment as he curls up on his bed in the laundry room. As I climb back in bed, curiosity steels my sleep. I wonder, where did he go and what did he do for 3 hours? What smell, sound, or primal instinct drew him away from our house late on a Friday night? Will I ever know or will this remain a mystery forever? Will little Scout’s suddenly emerge from a neighbor’s house weeks from now? I think about the emergence of police body cams. Maybe Scout needs a pouch cam for moments like this. But then I wonder if I would I even want to know what adventures he enjoyed? Maybe what happens during late night wanderings should stay late night wanderings. Perhaps once every 9 years a dog needs a venturesome night to blow off some steam and live the wild life of his ancestors. Perhaps he needed to get out and howl at the moon. I decide to give Scout this simple adventure and just let it go. I won’t even bring it up in the morning. With that thought, I fall back to sleep and dream of my own adventures.
“I don’t always bark at night, but when I do, it’s for no reason…”