the smell of my desperation has become a stench

“A madman sees what he sees”

Friday morning after letting the dogs out of their crates and going through their morning routines, we all settled down into my office so that I could get an early start on some lingering projects. A mommyblogger has projects, you ask? Listen. These pajamas are not going to wear themselves. And those pictures of baby kangaroos on Pinterest WILL NOT HAVE BEEN PINNED IN VAIN.

This office resides in what’s called a walk-out basement. This means that the house is built on a slope, so part of the basement is above ground. My office has doors that open to a fenced-in backyard, one with no broken boards or spaces through which Chuck could wiggle his way out and give me a heart attack. That was a fun game he used to play. Escape the backyard and see how quickly the ambulance would respond. Return home and pee on the walls. I called this game Who’s The Biggest Dick, Who?


I was sitting at my desk when suddenly Coco leapt from her dog bed and pounded her head on the glass door. The thud coincided with a string of raucous barks and wheezing so violent, so shrill that the vibrations cracked a portion of my spine. My first thought was: DAMN SQUIRRELS. My second thought was: they are going to taste so good in my slow cooker.

I hopped up from my desk and walked over to quiet Coco when… I… I… I saw it. It. IT. The very good reason Coco was losing her mind. You know, I thought I was leaving behind the birds who would show up and die on my doorstep, the mythical bobcats, the rattlesnakes. Sure, squirrels are going to show up wherever I go, but the rest of it? I SOLD IT. I paid a real estate agent a very healthy commission to help me get rid of it. A very happy couple bought it. And when that first bird shows up an keels over they can ponder the reasons why while soaking in that giant copper tub.

What is it about me? What is going on that I am attracting strange animals into my yard? Because when I got up from my desk I stared straight into the face of a 150-pound white Australian Shepherd. IN MY FENCED-IN BACKYARD. I did not know Australian Shepherds could be that large, so initially I thought it was a wolf. A wolf with a collar and tags. Just standing there delivering the message: “WINTER IS COMING.”

I could not calm Coco down, so I took her and Chuck by the collar and guided them back to the storage room to their crates. When I came back to the office that dog… can you call an animal that large a dog? At some point don’t they cross over into HORSE territory? That dire wolf was still standing there looking at me through the glass door. I made a “shoo!” gesture with my hands, but it just blinked. Shoo? SHOO? You don’t SHOO a dire wolf, HEATHER. You swing a flaming torch at its head while shouting, “Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm!”

What to do, what to do. Okay. Australian Shepherds. Mine is miniature and crazy, yes, but the breed is known for being friendly, right? So I stepped outside, barefoot, in my pajamas, baby kangaroos on my brain, and tried to figure out how the damn thing got into my backyard. It backed away several feet when I opened the door, but then turned to face me. And then it crouched down. For those of you who are unfamiliar with canine behavior, this particular stance does not mean “come give me cuddles.”

That’s when I froze. I didn’t want to make any sort of movement that it might perceive as threatening. Death by Ferocious Mauling is not on my life list.

Since I had its undivided attention I wildly darted my eyes to the left to suggest that since it probably came from that direction, maybe it should head back that way. Go ahead. Think I’m nuts. Think, why is she standing outside in her pajamas sending signals to a menacing animal WITH HER EYEBALLS. Worse things have been said and thought and written about me. Let’s start with: “Whenever I see her pointy chin I want to smash my monitor with an axe.” See. Darting Eyeball Lady isn’t so bad.

Plus? It worked! The dog crouched a bit lower and then jumped into a full-on sprint right past me, growling and baring its teeth the entire time. I watched it run the length of the backyard and around the side of the house. By the time I got close enough to peer along the narrow passage at the side of the house it had disappeared, either magically or by jumping a six-foot tall brick wall. My vote? Aliens got it.

I’m taking bets on what shows up next.

  • Luisa

    2013/03/25 at 3:01 pm

    Better not be a freaking White Walker.

  • Nicole

    2013/03/25 at 3:03 pm

    I love the Game of Thrones reference.

  • GirlWithTheKittenTattoo

    2013/03/25 at 3:04 pm

    In other words, Mommyblogging also involves dropping acid mid-morning. Where do I sign up?

  • Malisams

    2013/03/25 at 3:44 pm

    Dude, better a dire wolf than that crazy bitch who birthed the shadow monster from LOST.

  • =^..^=

    2013/03/25 at 3:49 pm

    it was a WILDLING.

  • Katybeth

    2013/03/25 at 4:09 pm

    I bet it ran straight home and barked the story about the crazy blogger in the Kangaroo jammies…you weren’t wearing roo jammies but we all exaggerate a little bit… I know, you
    are not fond of unasked for dog tips (can’t help myself) but meeting a strange dog with a leash in your hands can be an offering of friendship and dominance. Those Aussies can jump…really jump. Never a dull moment.

  • Shaste

    2013/03/25 at 5:03 pm

    DUDE! I totally had this happen to me once when I lived back east in PA. Ginormous unholy fluffy white dog showed up at my door in the middle of the night staring death rays at me thru the door. My golden retriever, aka friendliest dog in the world both to people and other dogs, was losing her mind. It finally left (disappeared out of our fenced yard). Seriously terrified me and I am a total dog lover. This was 20 years ago and I still remember it as one of those creepy moments….

  • Sandy

    2013/03/25 at 5:04 pm

    Are we supposed to see this “dog” peering in that door…cause if we are, you might want to think about getting some “help”! =o)

  • Kerri Mac

    2013/03/25 at 5:56 pm

    In a documentary about dogs, they proved that dogs can take directions just by looking at peoples eyeballs.

  • onewithbooks

    2013/03/25 at 6:02 pm

    Heather, you are giving animal magnetism a whole new meaning!

  • Dorothy Logan

    2013/03/25 at 6:06 pm

    WTF. How…why…I can’t even…just, wow. You sure can pick ’em.

  • TokyoSpark

    2013/03/25 at 7:08 pm

    I think it’s time to have cameras installed in the back yard. The kind with lazers.

  • Arnebya

    2013/03/25 at 8:12 pm

    Shit. What if you’re the Childlike Empress and you’ve missed your chance to ride on Falkor?

  • Olya

    2013/03/26 at 2:42 am

    The only solution is to build a giant wall of snow and ice to protect yourself.

  • Ashley

    2013/03/26 at 8:39 am

    I bet the dog used to live there. He got out of his new place, got kinda confused, and tried to go home. Home being not the new place in his foggy doggy brain.

  • Marian Rose Bunao

    2013/03/26 at 6:50 pm

    You watch Game of Thrones! Cool!

  • M

    2013/03/26 at 10:29 pm

    Winter is coming. I friggin love you!

  • Ginger

    2013/03/27 at 12:02 pm

    I wonder if the dog could actually see and/or hear you? Aren’t many white Australian Sheherds deaf or blind, or am I thinking the wrong breed?

  • Bibbel

    2013/03/27 at 1:18 pm

    Sure it wasn’t a Great Pyrenees? They are often mistaken for all white border collies and are the love child of Falcor and a dire wolf. Well, our girl is, anyway.

  • lizneust

    2013/03/27 at 6:48 pm

    Not an Australian Shepherd. A Great Pyrenees. And they are VERY territorial. You need to figure out who it belongs to in your neighborhood and let them know it is visiting you. Because it will go on the offensive if your dogs are outside in what it thinks (incorrectly) is it’s territory. Sorry.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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