Remember when Lassie would let out one little woof and Paul Martin would say, "What's the matter girl?"
And then Lassie would let out another woof and Paul would say, "Ruth, Timmy is in danger."
And then Ruth would say, "Lassie, what is wrong with Timmy?"
And then Lassie would bark twice.
And then Paul would say, "Timmy's in the well?"
And then Lassie would bark again and wag her tail and Paul, Ruth and all the farmhands would follow her.
And sure enough, there would be Timmy, in the well.
And once again Lassie had saved the day.
Well, I don't mean to brag, but Hunter, my dog is a lot like Lassie.
He always lets Sven and I know when someone is in distress. When somebody is going through a horrifying experience. And in rare cases, when it is the last day of some pour soul's life.
Good Friday morning was no exception.
I opened my eyes, smiled and rolled over in the dark, pulling the Sherpa comforter that will never leave the bed unless Spring decides to show up, around my neck.
I could hear my sweet Sven downstairs.
His cup was filling up under the chugging of the coffee maker.
There is nothing that I, me, Millie Noe likes more than a day off work.
You know that feeling of euphoria that comes over you when you realize that the alarm is not going to ruin everything.
When the whole day is waiting just for you.
And then I heard a bark.
Actually, it was a string of barks.
It was Hunter's ritualistic morning debut at dawn as the door opens and he runs out with zest. And his mouth, wide open.
"Woo, woo, woo, woooo, wooooooooo."
He always screams to the world.
I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.
And then I opened my eyes.
To a different bark.
This bark was coming from the back side of the house. The side of the house that our bedroom faces. The side of the house by the pond.
The pond that thawed a week ago.
I knew that bark.
It meant danger.
"It meant that Timmy was in the well."
"Damn it!" I said, realizing that the same bark had been weaving in and out of my dreams for a while.
"I'm heading out," Sven hollered up the stairs.
"Where's Hunter?" I called down.
"He's in the back. Can't you hear him? He's been barking for about forty-five minutes now."
I cherish that first sip of fresh brewed coffee.
Coffee is the reason that I get up.
But there was no time for such luxuries on Good Friday morning.
Because Hunter was on to something.
Somebody was in danger.
Somebody needed saving.
"I'll be right there Cujo," I muttered.
I pulled on my boots, wrapped my scarf around my neck and stuffed my bedhead into my hat.
I zipped up my coffee-stained, white, winter jacket and grabbed the leash.
And I stepped outside just in time to see Sven's chicken shit taillights go over the bridge.
"Hunter!" I yelled.
"Where are you?"
And then I followed the thunder that was echoing throughout the valley.
I went down the stairs to the flower garden of frozen brown turf and up the stairs on the other side.
I made my way toward the water, ducking, tripping and machete-ing my way toward all the chaos, as the sun was emerging above the trees.
My first glimpse of Hunter was his ass.
It was black.
By nature it is shades of rust with blonde fringe.
"What are you doing?" I said.
He paid no heed.
His pin of a head that sits on top of a thick chow neck was pointing straight in the air.
I followed his glazed over gaze to the very top of a skinny, dead, tree, without a branch on it.
A raccoon was up there.
She was clinging on to that twig for her dear life.
"Oh, Hunter!" I said.
I hooked the leash to his collar and said, "Let's go."
Apparently he was satisfied with his work.
Sometimes he needs a little more coaxing to leave such a scene.
But he was probably tired and hungry.
And he'd done all that he could.
So, without hesitation, he darted toward the house.
There is not a path from where we were to the kitchen.
I closed my eyes and hung on tight.
When we got to the yard I turned around and saw the silhouette of a woman holding a leash, carved right into the knarley woods we'd come out of.
Which explained all the snap, crackles and pops.
And why my hood was filled with pine needles, twigs and bark.
Hunter jumped up onto the porch and shook his entire black back end, splattering mud on me and my coffee-stained, white jacket.
I had to think fast.
The hose wasn't hooked up yet.
The water wasn't turned on yet.
"Wanna go for a walk?" I said.
He looked like he wanted to go for a walk.
"Do not go back by that raccoon."
So, I unhooked the leash.
And that was the first time I have ever taken a walk at that time of morning, without a cup of coffee in hand.
I stared at the black hole in front of me as he made his way around, sniffing this and scratching that.
We walked through the field.
The sun was beginning to melt the frost.
We turned into the woods and followed the path up the hill to the fence where we took a left.
Then we took another left and we passed the sand dunes.
And then we took a right at the corner of the field.
Then we took another right and passed the woodshed on our left.
And then there we were.
And Hunter looked the same.
He stood at the door and wagged his filthy tail, all set to come in and enjoy a hearty bowl of breakfast before a morning nap.
"You wait right here," I said.
And then I stuck his bowl out the door and set it on the deck.
"You can come in this house when hell freezes over," I said.
And shut the door.
That cup of coffee on Good Friday morning was the best tasting cup of coffee I have ever had.