No, that's not my photo snapped at the latest "Furry" convention. Actually that photo has been doctored with my face on a sheep dogs body. (I know! It's amaizing how real that looks!) As a rule, I don't dress up as a Sheep Dog. But I am of their ilk. I'm a herder. I know I've mentioned this before in passing, but I wanted to get into more detail to see if any of you are herders too. Or am I just abnormal.
My tendancy is to be in constant contact with my loved ones. I'd prefer that we all be in the same room, if we are all home. If one of us is gone, I need to hear from that person, usually if he or she is going to be late. I'd really like a call when anyone is about to head home so that I know when to expect him or her and I don't have to watch out the window and worry that he/she is dead in a ditch.
I suppose I can dispense with the vaguries of him/her...I'm talking about Doc here. He's more of a cat. His philosophy is "If the phone doesn't ring, it's me." If I don't hear from him, I should assume all is well. Which is kind of a logical leap for this pup, because I also wouldn't hear from him if he were dead. So, really? Not helpful for herding purposes. There's also a matter of our different interpretations of what "I'll be back in about 20 minutes" means (See this post, #3 for more information).
I know he hates the phone and would rather never have to use one. And in general, we're an awesome team; I have no complaints. For example, when we cook in the kitchen, we communicate almost completely implicitly; no words are necessary. I aspire to this level of communication with the people in my life and I'm lucky to have it. But it would be nice, for me, if he would just call on his way out the door from work to let me know he'll be home soon and to check to see if we need anything. Or let me know if he was going to be late or off on walk-about.
But that's an old saw and really off the point.
I was talking about me.
My herding instincts really come out at night. It's very difficult for me to be the first one to go to bed. I really can't settle down until I know that everyone is home, safe and out like a light. This is tricky for me and Doc, him being a night owl and working afternoons and me also being a night owl but on the early shift. I want to stay up with him, but it ruins me for the next day.
Last night, however, I had to go to bed first, even before the girls. I had the world's worst stomach ache, complete with cramps and chills. I hadn't slept well the night before and I was just worn out. I slugged down some Pepto and reluctantly headed off to bed. I should have been comforted. I had the bed to myself, I had the heated mattress pad turned up to ward off the chills, I popped in a Bob Newhart Show DVD, but I had this feeling of fear/emptiness.
Everyone was still up. My herd could drift while I'm in here. What if Lucy sleep-walked again? What if Riley runs away? What if Doc scarpered off to the back yard for a whiz and slipped and fell and cracked his head open?
Stop it, I told myself. Just enjoy sprawling out and drifting off. I did, eventually. Then at about 4 a.m. I woke up, still alone. I experienced a sheep dog frisson of fear. I got up and wandered through the house, eventually discovering the girls on the couch and Doc sleeping on they chair with his legs out on the ottoman. I thought about waking him up and dragging him back to bed. And then I thought better of it. They were fine. They were herded. I could go back to bed.