A single bark rings out, exploding like a gunshot, echoing off the laundry room walls. Walter wants out. Now. A short while later he will demand to come back in with a similar bark.

The stars look like paint splattered across a deep blue drop cloth. They provide just enough light to see the lawn and distinguish a few shrubs, beyond which blackness bounds my view. What are those dogs barking at now?

Walter plants himself in front of Clementine, his rump in the air and his tail curled over his back, waving like a flag. His front paws are splayed out in front of him, his chin inches off the deck. He stares intently at Clem and barks once more.

Suddenly, Walter spins about and runs off. Clementine barks and takes off after him, growling and whining and gnawing on his flank as they run. Clem’s sleek, black fur is a stark contrast to Walter’s shaggy white coat. They take two laps around the yard, as fast as they can go. Eight paws pound the turf and the occasional loud bark marks their progress.

They return to the back yard and wrestle in the grass for a few minutes before Clementine is distracted by an itch.

Walter barks at Clementine twice more, trying to entice her into another race. Clementine is busy licking herself and ignores him, so Walter trots off into the darkness.

He stands in the far corner of the front yard and barks with authority. It sounds like a sentry’s challenge to an interloper, but it is just a ruse. A ruse Clementine falls for, charging from the back yard to join Walter at his post; they stand guard and bark a chorus of stern warnings to the wind.

After another race around the yard, snapping and growling in mock fury, the dogs stand at the gate and bark some more. Clementine barks because Walter is barking. Walter barks because Clementine is barking. They each strive to out-bark the other. They raise their doggy voices announcing to the world: “I am here! Here I am! I am a dog!”

What a joyful sound. Try to get some sleep. The dogs are watching out for you.

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