Rodney’s Hunkering Down


Rodney’s getting ready for Winter. He’s okay with its imminence. Some Summer days in South Leinster, where he lives, its bloody boiling hot and even lying the shade isn’t enough.

Not a lot of people know this, but dogs have a higher temperature than humans. And the heat these days in people’s houses is the cause of a significant amount of respiratory illnesses and asthma in dogs. Rodney knows this.

He has a lovely cosy bed in the house where he lives, of course, but if he wants to cool down on sultry July nights, he just strolls over to the tiles in the dark and pans out. He makes sure to get back into bed before his master comes down in the morning – he doesn’t want to concern him.

Yes, Rodney’s hunkering down for the cold and the dark, but that’s fine. He’s okay with that, he’s a master of acceptance – all dogs are really. They live in the moment. Zen masters, dogs are, mindfulness comes natural to them.

And yes, he was sad when he saw the swallows and house martins gathering on the high wires recently, to head off south. He listens in on their conversations, he’s picked up a lot of their lingo by now. It’s full of body-fat ratios, wind channels, raptors over Northern Africa, being led astray by mesmeric songs in the Spanish night – the usual stuff that elders tell younglings to frighten them and enlighten them. Rodney’s seen it all before.

Yes, Rodney’s chilled. Everything’s cool, man.

But he does worry sometimes about his pack, the humans who feed and shelter him. And he’s assiduous about protecting them – he does his rounds every morning first thing and last thing at night too, and he listens out for strange sounds. Woe betide any fox or rat or cat who tries to get within sniffing distance of the house – Jack Russells don’t mess about, I can tell you that for nothing. They take their jobs seriously.

This time of the year he sees less of the younglings in his pack. They head off everyday with the master or mistress and don’t come back until after dark. He doesn’t like them being out after dark, if he’s honest. And now the young female is away for 5 days at a time and he frets about that, when the weather gets bad and he’s worried that she could be out in it. Those poor humans don’t have fur and their clothes seem woefully inadequate.

But his real worry is those huge barking machines that are all around the place. With their massive roaring mouth, and the foul gas that comes out their asses, and those funny round rubber legs they have. He hates it when his pack gets into one of them. And they allow the machines to carry them around at wicked speeds on roads full of the bloody things!

Rodney doesn’t trust them. How could you? They smell of metal and oil. They have no language to speak of. They must be strong to be able to carry the humans and to go so quickly. He tries to keep up with them but it’s impossible.

They just sit there, immobile, when they’re not roaring and rolling around. And they crush dogs too. Deliberately, Rodney thinks. They did for Theo, his lovely black friend. Theo was a Jack Russell too, more or less. Black Jack, Rodney used to call him for fun.

He’s gone now , and one of those machines did for him. And he knows they roll over humans too. That’s why they are so dangerous. Rodney’s fearful for his pack. He can hear the machines roaring past all day and night, out on that road with the humans walking along the sides of it. Madness.

He tries to warn his pack whenever they get into one of them. He shouts and shouts and tells them to get out, to get away but they just shush him and go out the gate and speed away. Then he has to sit there and wait until they come back. He’s not happy about that, he can’t do anything about it. He tried biting the rubber legs but it doesn’t do any good. The metal is hard. And their asses are hot as well as smelly. When he barks, sometimes the humans shout at him – unfortunately they are naïve and they don’t understand the danger they are in.

Rodney does. He waits for them to return in the machine, to make sure it didn’t roll over them or eat them.

If those machines hurt any of his pack, they’ll be sorry. They better not mess with Rodney, that’s for sure.