It was a warm summer night, a few hours before midnight. My sweet, furry companion, Brooklyn, a now 16 years old petite beagle lab mix, has gone outside for the night, as she has done most nice summer nights all the years of her life. For the last few months, she has been recovering from a bout of vestibular or old dog syndrome. After the incident–which amounts to vertigo and required our extreme love and attention as she re-learned how to walk–she slowly regained her health and persistence and continued on through the days and nights with no apparent judgement of her new normal. When she and her “sister”, Gogi, go out for the night, Brooklyn usually lies near my bedroom window and sleeps, while Goji does perimeter checks and general patrolling–as congruent with her part-Pyrenees nature.

Before I had quite settled in for sleep myself, I heard the barking. Very consistent and coming from the other end of the house. Goji has a special kind of bark she uses when she has located some kind of animal and I heard that now plus barks coming from Brooklyn.

Investigation would be needed.

I headed outside barefoot and in my nightgown (thank goodness for living in the country) and tried to see where they were and what they were up to. I finally made my way around to the concrete pad in front of the garage to find them both, frantically barking and digging on the other side of the small concrete wall by our water spigot. My 35lb geriatric puppy clawing with all her might, one back leg propped up on top of the wall, Goji right by her side–digging and barking! Hey, hey, hey, what’s going on here?, I start with.

No one acknowledges my inquiry.

I make my way around the wall with a flashlight to see a poor armadillo had dug itself into a hole next to the wall where the ground must be soft with water from the hose…and the dogs are non-stop digging right on top of it! Good thing it has armor.

Everyone is still intent with their tasks, plus I’m not sure how much hearing Brooklyn has at this point anyway, so I make my way into the fray. I reach in to scoop Brooklyn up–one arm under her chest and one behind her back legs, letting her knees bend in towards her belly. (I’ve become accustomed to this stance as we used it frequently during her recovery, taking her up and down the two big steps into the front of our house before she regained her ability to walk the ramp my husband had built for her months before. Her 35lb frame is just about what I can squat and lift with proper alignment!) I didn’t know if this strategy would work or if I would end up having to carry her all the way back inside the house, but when I set her down on the gravel driveway, she seemed to let out a sigh of relief, thankful to be pulled out of her frenzy and slowly started to walk back towards the front door with me. Goji also followed suit, tired from the exertion and came to rest inside awhile. They drank their water and laid down until their panting subsided. Their eyes drifted closed for a time as I assessed whether I should return them back into the night or wait a few hours for Goji to surely wake me from my slumber with barks of dire urgency. Sensing that I did not truly have much of a say, I opted for the former, and released them out again, urging them to please go on to sleep.

And we all had a lovely, peaceful and deep rest…

Until, of course, one of us was awakened–again–to the sounds of two barking dogs in the distance, intent on mischief, mayhem and possibly even murder if it weren’t for their tried and true girl, who sleeps with one ear open now and can’t help but come to the rescue (or to break up the party–depending on your perspective!)

Out I went again. Into the darkness, same story – barefoot, nightgown–glad to be in the county–happy that it’s warm–and tracking the sounds of barking to a different location now. Down the hill and off to the side of the front yard…a commotion, beyond the hugelkultur where the asparagus and blueberries grow. Walking briskly there, I shine my flashlight on to two dogs–a 75lb black and white part-Pyrenees and medium sized light brown and white beagle lab mix–digging and clawing right on top of the back of an armadillo. The same one, I presume. It has dug itself into another hole right next to our chain link fence, likely trying to get the hell out of this danger zone and being, so far, unsuccessful. Honestly, there are only about two places that afford access to our property through gaps in the gates, so finding it’s way out is going to be a challenge. Many a small, furry creature has wondered in through these gaps and they often don’t make their way back out. I pray the armadillo works swiftly to find an exit as I coax the dogs (again) to leave this scene and come to bed for good.

Once Brookyln’s digging is interrupted, she follows me again, willingly, wearily back up the hill to the house. I worry that she won’t be able to move the next day after such exertion. We leave Goji to continue “the fight,” and I give Brooklyn water, salmon flavored doggie CBD oil and a little assistance into her comfy bed. Goji makes her way in too and passes out on her side, taking up a large swath of floor with her outstretched limbs. I hear her snoring as I crawl back into bed, where my husband has been sleeping soundly for hours.

In the morning, everyone is eats breakfast. Brooklyn moves around in her same “new normal” fashion and I am thankful that she is still living her best wild dog life. Goji has her nose to ground and is heading towards the fence to begin the perimeter check.

This writing was prompted by teacher Dixie Keyes at Eastern Livity’s Under the Moonlight: Yoga & Writing Series in the Summer of 2022. It is a story about an encounter with a nocturnal animal. It is also an ode to an amazing friend, teacher, soul mate and furry companion, Brooklyn Taylor 7/3/2005– 7/5/2022