The window is smudged, especially near the bottom where the noses meet the glass. Behind it sits the old leather sofa. Not the stark, Danish kind with a stiff upper back, but the comfy, overstuffed, pillowy kind that invites you to sink into it with a cup of hot tea and a blanket. It would be the perfect place to look out over the farm on a rainy afternoon if the couch were orientated that way. But it’s not. Instead, the comfy sofa faces inward, with its back up against the glass, to engage conversation from across the room.
It is there that they sit, waiting for me, whenever I am not at home. On one end is Brutus, the aging Shepherd mix, slouched into the arm of the couch with his head craned around and resting on the pillow topped back, his gaze fixed outside. Slumped at the other end in a mirror image pose is Dodger, the ethereal, red-coated, blue-eyed Husky. Between them is Murphy, the painfully cute, caramel and white Beagle mix, draped long ways across the back of the couch on a billowy platform he somehow scrunches out of the overstuffed leather. From there he can see beyond the front porch and well past the donkey barn, almost to the start of the driveway.
And so it is usually Murphy who spies my car first. By the time I am past the donkey barn I can see him through the window, now seated on the couch back with his head tilted back and his nose pointed skyward, letting loose with a full Beagle howl. Dodger quickly pops up and adds his high pitched yelps. Old Brutus is slow to un-slouch, but his head is at full attention with one ear up Shepherd style, and the other forever flopped down. He joins the chorus with his low, staccato paced woofs.
As I pull up in front of the house, the two younger dogs leap off of the couch. Brutus gingerly plants his front feet onto the floor before pushing off with his back to follow them to the front door. My other three dogs come running. There is Uma, the imposing, hundred pound Akita mix, Blue, the snow-white Pit Bull with the one blue eye, and little Jenny, a black dog of unknown breed that could pass as an undersized Lab. It is all I can do to nudge the door open past the swirling wall of dog that has gathered to greet me. Somehow I manage, and the dogs rush out past me, turn in tight circles and escort me inside, barking and spinning around my feet every step of the way.
I shut the door and Murphy jumps up to tag me.
I am home.