4 Dog Night

Pattaya, Thailand

It is the beginning of calendar winter as the tropical morning sun peeks into my window, warming the room. Having declined to find a companion the evening before, I permit myself the luxury of sleeping in, stretching out over the double bed.

I am awakened, as I have been the past three mornings, by the frenzied warbling of some exotic bird. It sounds like he is right outside my window, sharing with me his joy over the new day.

If he stays there any longer, I’m going to peg the noisy little bastard with a beer bottle.

But no, I had promised myself that I am stockpiling that ammunition for the local dog chorus whose performance begins around 10:30 each night in the vacant lot next to the apartment building. Usually it begins with an impassioned solo by a mixed-breed Rottweiler, reaching out to all other canines within hearing and inviting them to add their yelps of yearning.

For the second movement, two bedraggled Fox Terrier tenors from across the street add their mournful laments. Harmonizing with the Rottweiler like water in Gravy Train, the trio builds towards an irresistible, ragged crescendo that can briefly restore hearing loss.

It is the French Poodle’s staccato-like outbursts which define the third and final movement. Rising above the drawn-out howls, its endless yapping radiates a shrill warning for postmen everywhere. As the ferocity gathers, the maelstrom begins to crowd out all other night sounds. The universe has become an all-encompassing cacophony of barks and yelps from which there is no auditory escape.

The silence that follows the climax is stunning in its emptiness. Slowly, hesitantly, other animals begin filling the late evening with their gentler serenading. The simple chirping of the cricket, the lonely meow of a distant cat…..and the warbling of that damn bird!

The evening’s guest soloist.

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