One day Nobody appeared on the front door step. He rang the invisible (and soundless) doorbell, but the dogs had already detected him with their enhanced canine sniffing prowess. They barked.

The humans went to the door, and opened it. There was nothing to see. Nothing even out on the footpath or the road. Nothing to see. Nothing.

The humans had a quiet, mirthless chuckle, and made comments which were a bit unkind about the dogs barking as if someone was there. There was no-one there, so why bark? The humans enjoyed asking this question. And one of them, it may have been the female, questioned whether a dog ought to be embarrassed at causing a scene like that when there was no-one there.

Dogs are supposed to be good at detecting people and dogs near their property. Guard dogs – they alert the humans they live with to events and situations that humans couldn’t have detected so quickly. This is where the man’s best friend concept comes from: for many thousands of years humans and dogs lived together, they hunted and realised that their basic personalities were compatible, but there was a mutually advantageous partnership too, where the dogs who lived with a small group of humans appreciated the fire and the small amounts of food they were given, and they appreciated humans’ ability to see such a long way, and the humans appreciated that dogs could smell so well and warn them about unseen dangers in the night when human vision is cancelled out by the dark. Dogs and humans are a team, or they can be.

All of this is true.

And Nobody was on the front verandah, waiting. Sometimes Nobody comes into the house. He enters when humans arrive home from shopping or otherwise open the door. He sneaks in. He usually sits down where the TV is. He likes TV. He doesn’t stay many days at a time, and he is always keen to go for a walk. But Nobody visits quite a few friends. He is a guest most nights. He sits up with the people in the house as they watch their TV and when they turn it off and go to bed he wanders around. He sits on kitchen benches and crouches in bathrooms and stands up against walls, quite straight, keeping a low profile. Around the time it becomes light Nobody starts to find a way to leave the house he’s staying in. He doesn’t stay with friends for long. If he can’t find a door that is ajar he can leave by other means. When a radio or a tap is turned on, Nobody can make himself small and float away on the radio waves or slide out via the water pipes.

Sometimes Nobody slips or stumbles as he moves about the house. If dogs are awake they may bark or whimper, depending upon whether they are aggressive or scared. Sometimes when humans get out of bed at night to get a glass of water or go to the toilet and they get a cold, tingly sensation that feels quite unnerving, Nobody is in the room with them and hasn’t found a way to perch himself that is sufficiently out of the way. Nobody has a habit of sitting on toilets, just to relax. This, in particular, can freak humans right out.

They don’t know they have a guest. But the dogs know.

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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