It's a lovely autumn afternoon on the back deck, warm in the sun but cool in the shade. Cool enough for a ginormous mug of oolong tea that we picked up in San Francisco's Chinatown last November. Thankfully the breeze is keeping any surviving mosquitoes at bay. I hear a hummingbird squeaking over by the scarlet pineapple sage, but I doubt they'll remain in southwestern Virginia much longer. The red and burgundy leaves of the dwarf crape myrtle are almost incandescent in the sunlight, and the purple asters beside it nearly pop with the color contrast. There's a titmouse scolding my miniature dachshund, but Oscar seems more intent on finding the latest trail left by the chipmunk living under the deck. Mr. Chipmunk has taken to boldly running across the deck , cheeks stuffed full of food to cache for the winter, and Oscar does not approve of this. Not at all. Of course Oscar also doesn't approve of the dwindling hours of daylight each day or the sudden drop in temperatures. Can't say I blame her. She doesn't have much of a coat and is practically nekkid on her belly so come winter she embeds herself like a tick in the sofa under the knit throw to stay warm. She's pitiful if we get any snow as her belly is only a few inches above ground and she's a girl dog to boot.
Yep, you read that right. We have a girl dog named Oscar. The original plan was to have a male and female pair named Oscar and Frankie, respectively. Steve surprised me with Oscar the night I defended my PhD almost 6 years ago in October 2003. She was 8 weeks old and barely the size of my foot, but Steve had already gotten an ID tag with the name Oscar on it and so it never occurred to me to change her name to something a little more feminine. She's not much of a girly dog anyways, aside from her dislike of having to pee in the snow. We hadn't had her too long before she woke us up one night, barking her head off and growling. Someone was trying to break into the kitchen window, but he ran off as soon as we shouted about calling the police. The police were never able to catch the guy, but we figure he must not have been too bright to break into a house with multiple cars in the driveway, security lights blazing on the garage and carport, and with a very loud dog inside the house. Oscar only weighed a couple of pounds at the time, but you couldn't tell she wasn't a much larger dog from the volume of her frenzied barking.
So it's times like this, when I spy Oscar digging in the dirt in my flower bed beside the garage, that I try not to get too upset by the crater she's excavating in pursuit of Mr. Chipmunk. Faithful watch dogs should be allowed to express their dogginess every so often, and it's comical to watch her dig so intently. We'll just plop her in the bath after Ally is done, and Oscar can express her feminine side by smelling of lavender tonight.