C.W. Gusewell

THE KANSAS CITY STAR

An eight-legged wake-up call that must be heeded

My wife and I are not utter primitives.

Our home contains the usual array of appliances. We have an electric can opener, a microwave, a toaster, a coffee maker, a refrigerator, a stove and an oven.

For our amusement, we have a television and CD and DVD players; for comfort, central heating and air conditioning; for cleanliness, a washer and dryer.

What we do not have is a functioning alarm clock – a serious handicap for someone whose life is ruled by deadlines.

Our daughters once gave us one of the digital kind, but we have been unable either to set it to the correct time or to stop it from emitting piercing little squeaks at random hours of the day.

So we are without any mechanical means of waking.

What we have, instead, are the dogs – Cyrus, the Brittany, and Buddy, the beagle. They are extremely dependable.

Unfortunately, they came to us with their alarms preset for 5:15 a.m. and not subject to adjustment.

The sun is well below the horizon off the Carolina coast, and night still fills my bedside window, when Cyrus’ nails begin clicking like castanets on the hardwood floor.

Soon Buddy joins in, the two of them shaking their collars, evoking a merry jingle from the years of metal licenses attached.

I draw the bedcovers over my head, pretending to be asleep. For even the slightest movement will encourage and further activate them.

Sometimes this buys a bit of time. Not much. Five minutes at most.

Then, as the commotion escalates anew, I rise – muttering comments best not rendered here in print – fling on a robe and stumble down the dark stairs to give them their run in the fenced yard and fill their food bowls.

They are dear friends, those two. Reasonably tidy in their habits, considerate with cats and reliable in announcing any unexpected caller at the door.

My only complaint is this issue of their morning schedule.

In my earlier years, I, too, was a crack-of-dawn riser, never wanting to miss the early action on a lake or a trout stream, eager to be in the quail meadow at frosty first light.

But that was a disease of youth, and mercifully it heals with time.

Like me, Cyrus and Buddy both are seniors now. And all I can hope is that somehow, as I have, they learn to act their age.