Regular Followers will know that typically I am up at 5:00am and, after a productive 2-1/2 hours, I go outside with Ray so that he can take care of his “needs”, after which I give him his breakfast. Ray has created his own morning “needs” schedule around mine and so I know his schedule just as well as he knows mine. This means that when something changes, I know there has to be a reason!
This morning I was up a little earlier (4:45am) and heard a sound of movement in the kitchen. Ray is usually asleep at this time! I picked up on my normal routine and got dressed, and then went into the kitchen to get my breakfast before getting some work done. However, whereas Ray is usually curled up somewhere at this time, I saw him standing and facing the back door… and staring at it!
There could be a number of reasons for this, not the least of which could be he heard something outside and wanted to go and investigate. This is a very precarious situation because we don’t know what, if anything, is out there! Ray has a strong prey drive, and uses aggression as his first response, which could be a problem with a large raccoon or a skunk. We know we have a family of skunks living close by, and we also have foxes and coyotes living discreetly among us.
We are however prepared for such events! We have a couple of plastic containers partially filled with stones. Throw one of those into the night and when it lands it makes quite a noise! We also recently bought a very powerful “police style” flashlight! I am sure that this thing would spotlight a squirrel a mile away! Our strategy therefore is to first try and scare anything away (or at least put it on alert), and then visually check the back garden thoroughly. Then we let Ray out!
Given that his standing and staring at the door could also mean he needs to go outside for personal reasons, I threw on a few layers of clothes and told Ray to “Wait” while I went outside and tossed one of our containers of stones into the darkness. Then I turned on the flashlight and did a thorough check around the shrubs, behind the sheds, and down by the side of the house. Nothing!
As soon as I opened the back door, Ray came out; trotted down the steps, and then headed over to one of his usual pee spots and relieved himself. He then trotted back to the house, and we were back to normal.
At around 7:45am, my routine dictates I let him out… but was there going to be an issue now? Clearly not, as he went outside and peed again; pooped as per normal schedule, and then went back inside and waited for his breakfast.
Going outside at that time of the morning, at this time of year, is not the most comfortable experience. I know of owners who open the back door and push the dog out, and then wait for it to come back, but I couldn’t do that with Ray. If, after my checks, he is still confronted by another animal somewhere, then I will be there with him to resolve the issue. Of course it is also handy to know where he poops so that it can be picked up at a more convenient time!
He knows that I am accommodating a change in routine at his request, so I just put it down to bonding, and who would not want to bond with Ray!