Old dogs are peculiar. Especially if they were peculiar to begin with. And our Hunter, his heinous highness, is no exception. It seems that in his later years he prefers an engraved invitation for almost everything. Even to simply go to bed. This attitude of his is not completely his fault. He does have lots of ailments. Those stick legs of his that ail him are what happen to be holding up more than a six pack with a pin of a head tacked on top. He has a bed on the ground floor. But. That bed is for daytime napping only. And since our bedroom is upstairs, that is where he likes to sleep. Hunter claims that he cannot guard us sufficiently from another level. I have tried to convince him otherwise, as there are three doors on the main floor. They are much more likely to be busted into then the door in our bedroom, since any would be perpetrator would have to do a lot of climbing to break in that way. But Hunter has heard the legendary story of the entire racoon family that was out there on the upper deck that one night, a long time ago, way before his time. It was back when Sweet Dakota Jones was on duty. So. The ritual begins. "Are you ready for bed?" I will ask my Sweet Sven, who is on the adjacent couch. "Yes," he will answer. "Me too," I will say. "Hunter, are you ready for bed?" I will ask the wonder dog. Hunter will pick up his head and lay it back down. "Okay, I am heading up," my husband will say. "Yep, I am right behind you," I will reply, stopping in the kitchen first to clean up any last minute snack the man I married thirty-three years ago, may have eaten. This is called life. Hunter never goes up the stairs until Sven and I are both up there. It is some kind of guard dog law. "Puppy," I will call down. "You don't need to say anything to him. He will come up on his own," Sven will say. "And that dog is not a puppy." But I know better. I know that this particular, peculiar old dog, is not only a puppy, I also know that he is waiting for an invitation. An invitation to stand himself up. And to begin barking. The barking is to inform me that he is now upright and at the bottom of the stairs and he would like for us to begin begging him to climb the steps. You see, it ain't that easy. A guy could use a little bit of coaxing at this juncture. Even with the light on, that first step is hard to navigate. It seems that no matter how many times I assure Hunter from up in the loft that he can do it, it doesn't matter. Hunter needs to hear the words from his father. "You can do it, Hunter," Sven will grudgingly yell from under the covers. "For God's sake." And then, down there at the bottom Hunter will back up, circle the dining room table and then come at the stairs head on and at full speed, which is nothing like a bolt of lightening. It is more of a rolling thunder like start. But once he rolls past that first step he is on his way. And that is when I head into the bathroom to brush my teeth. Eventually there is a loud thunk outside our door. "He is in the staging area," Sven will announce. All rock stars have them. The reason for Hunter's staging area is simple. I annoy the shit out of Hunter when I am preparing for bed. This is not my fault. I am a woman. All he has to do is get his pajamas on, which entails removing his collar and having his ears scratched. Not until Hunter hears my underwear drawer located under my bed next to his bed, slam shut, will he even consider wandering in. Because once a guard dog takes his stand for the night, and his shift begins, he does not want to be disturbed. He does not want anyone digging around in a drawer behind him. He does not want a bathroom light shining in his eyes. And no thank you. He does not want a glass of water, the one that you never even offered to get for him. A guard dog just wants to go to sleep. Jeeez.