Want To Go Outside

We have a deal with Franco. When he wants to go outside to his place on the porch, he puts his nose by the door handle. He is very polite about it. He never barks if we don’t happen to notice us. He just looks our direction with his sad eyes, hoping someone will notice that he needs a helping hand. From my point of view, this request should be for going to the bathroom, but occasionally he also wants to go out just to smell the air and bark when barking is required. I have no problems with this and encourage it in fact.

Last night I had to chuckle at Franco, because he asked to go out for yet another reason.

As I often do just before retiring for the night this time of year, I stoked up the kitchen woodstove. As an avid former player of the computer game “Tetris,” I do enjoy the challenge of matching the geometric shape of potential pieces of firewood with the space available in the firebox. The burning material in the firebox also has to be taken into consideration and subtracted from the space available. As will be seen shortly, I do this without thinking, and after thousands of repetitions, I’m pretty good at choosing the right piece of wood to last the night.

Last night I got sloppy. I failed to look at the entire firebox when determining the available space. This coupled with the fact that the piece of firewood I chose had a knob on it caused us some grief. Franco appears pretty disinterested in the whole process, because he’s seen it so often. When I put the slightly too big piece of firewood into the stove last night, he never lifted his head.

Once it became clear that this piece wasn’t going to fit, and that I was past the point of no return (the fire in the stove has already started to burn the new block of firewood) I may have said something like, “oh shucks.” Franco’s ears pricked.

As I struggled with the firewood, smoke began escaping into the kitchen. Franco’s nose twitched. Most of the time, I can wrestle the piece of wood around and get it to fit, but this allows more volumes of smoke into the house. Franco sat up.

As it became clearer and clearer that my efforts to make this piece fit were not going to be successful, something about my demeanor must have betrayed me, because Franco was now sitting up and watching my every move. I started moving to open a couple of windows to let the smoke out, and Franco positioned himself by the door. Then the smoke alarm went off. Franco’s nose was on the door handle, in-between anxious glances towards me. I assured him things would be ok, and he looked at me as if to say, “ya right, now let me outside.” So I let him outside, got the stove to stop smoking, cleared the air as best as I could, and chuckled to myself about how smart this dog is.

After about half an hour, I was ready to head up to bed. I found Franco laying down outside in a drizzle. I called him to come in, and he lifted his head, looked me in the eye, and seemed to be saying he’d rather lay in the rain all night than put up with my woodsmoke. I insisted, he came in and went to his corner, curled up, and gave one of his little snorts as he was falling asleep.

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