Glasses on. Timer set. I’m ready.
Then the thunderstorm starts. Living in a house made up of numerous large, picturesque windows is awesome on these kinds of stormy afternoons. For me, at least. For my mom’s dog, Leo, however, it is an apocalyptic nightmare. Why has the sky gone black? Why are the lights off? What’s that noise? Why is there water everywhere? For Leo, thunderstorms are the scariest thing ever (next to bonfires, of course).
First off, let me tell you a little bit about Leo: he’s a schnauzer, he’s 13 years old, he has no teeth, and he is the single grumpiest dog I have ever met in my life. He has no love in his heart for anyone except my mother, he barks incessantly at the sounds of a door opening and closing, and his first response to being petted is to growl. Whenever I find myself alone at home with him, he looks at me with disdain and grumbles as he makes his way to sit by the window, waiting for my mother to return home.
Not today, though. Instead of the usual grouchy pup I’ve become accustomed to, I am presented with a tiny, gray-haired pooch whose body is trembling with fear and whose chocolate brown eyes are wide with terror. He is panting, his tongue long and limp, dangling from between his toothless chops, his hot rancid breath perfuming the air around us. He leaps on to my lap as I try to begin writing this article, and fails. He tries again and again until finally I get up and move towards his favourite cuddling spot: the chaise.
Here, is where he spend hours with my mom, curled up at her feet while she reads or plays Angry Birds; where he guards the queen of the house and protects her from her family by growling and breathing heavily in the attacker’s face with his putrid smelling breath.
This time, however, he is not laying politely at my mother’s feet. Instead he claws at my shirt, climbing up me like a tree until he feels he is in the safest position (which is apparently with his small head tucked away in the curve of my neck). He shakes and pants and cries, despite the soothing reassurances I offer him and comforting pats. I hug him and he calms down until the next rumble of thunder rolls through the sky and he is once again in hiding.
My family had guessed that Leo may be going deaf, but this afternoon he hears every sound that the sky makes.
They say that animals have a sixth sense. As a kid, I watched countless shows on dogs or cats or birds trying to warn their owners of a fast-approaching tornado or tsunami. Everyone knows it’s tornado-season in my small city, and I begin to wonder if Leo knows it too; if maybe he’s trying to warn me of something.
But soon the rain turns from a waterfall to a trickle, the lightning becomes the occasional flicker of light, and the thunder is nothing more than a quiet drumroll in the far-off distance…
And Leo is sitting at my feet, bored, with a look of disdain that tells me he would rather be sulking off, grumbling, as he makes his way to his spot by the window to wait for my mother to come home.