Tale of a Dog in the Nighttime

Conan the Un-barbarian

The husband and I went to the Oregon Coast for a few days just before Christmas. Our celebration of the day is my celebration of the day, because the husband eschews the day and anything associated with it. Something to do with getting only underwear and ill-fitting jeans for Christmas. Also his birthday is on the 26th and that generally meant that gifts were combos—birthday plus Christmas. He’s never recovered.

I always plan a trip to the coast in winter. Just two nights in an AirBnB, always a different place because of The List. My List is not written down but owes its criteria to certain comforts necessary for coastal excursions: beach access, view, dogs allowed, roomy, full kitchen with simple appliances. Your basic range, microwave, toaster and coffee maker. (Although we bring our own coffee supplies, which this time, because of who-know-why, we had forgotten to pack.)

The house I had chosen this year was very affordable (a criteria I cannot adjust). From the photos and description it had an ocean view. A split level where the viewing deck, opening onto a balcony, had a lot of windows facing the sea. Dogs welcome. With two bedrooms, an upper spacious living room, kitchen and dining area, it seemed ideal. Walking distance from shops and restaurants, and across the street was the beach access trail.

Cute, too, tricked out with mid-twentieth century décor, like one of those built-in metal sink consoles like you’d see in a Sears modular home. It was bright red. In fact, kitchen towels, coffee mugs, plates. All brilliant red. (A favorite color of mine). Lots of blankets. Forced-air heat kept both the lower and upper levels toasty warm.

The “ocean view” was a slice of clearness between two homes across the street. Just beyond them the Pacific boiled under sequential squalls. Tortured pines screened any other hope for a view, but it was private.

Connecting the upper and lower floors was a set of steep, narrow stairs. By narrow I mean the treads—doubtless constructed this way in order to fit between the floors. This feature played a major role in the quality of our stay.

Parking practically at the door. Signage about managing the digital lock easy to understand. We unloaded our bags, then brought the dogs inside.

Our mastiffs shut down on road trips; Conan, the older and larger male, occupies his place granting him access to the arm box between our seats, where his head rests the entire time. Toby, female and slightly smaller, shoves up next to him and assumes the same level of hibernation.

There was a lovely bedroom upstairs with a king size bed and fancy sheets. Downstairs a smaller bedroom, double bed. Except for meals downstairs, the upstairs living area with two large sofas, two tables for laptop stuff, and a dog-proof carpet was the place to spend our lazy days.

I chose a sofa at the window overlooking the ocean view slot. The husband set up his laptop at a sweet walnut card table in the window nearby. Toby trotted up those gangway stairs and plopped on one of the dog beds we had brought. Comfy, warm and a great place to watch the wind and rain.

Then the whimpering started.

Conan came to us with superstitions. We acquired him at one-and-a-half years old. He balked at narrow hallways. It took him years be comfortable walking down the narrow hallway of our old house. When we moved to the new house with a second story, it took him nine months to be comfortable with the stairs. Something about those gangway steps of our vacation rental distressed him.

Twice, the first afternoon and evening he braved them, but inevitably there were trips downstairs for wine and bathroom breaks. Once he got safely to the lower level, there he stayed.

The whining wasn’t critical until we tried to go to bed in the beautiful king bed. I had forgotten my earplugs. Sleep was impossible. I took the other dog bed downstairs and situated Conan in the downstairs bedroom, went back upstairs, crawled under the covers.

Whimper. Whine.

Finally I left the master suite and slept—once I got to sleep—on the double.

The next day was quieter, as Conan seemed to accept the downstairs bedroom as his own lair. However after dinner, when we retired to our sweet living area, the complaints began again. Bed early, downstairs, because of the sleep-deficit of the night before. Nice, warm—not the beautiful master suite above with the husband, but the double in the downstairs was good. Off to deep sleep.

Boom! Ba-Boom!

Was that the surf banging against the rocks? Then the flash of light under my eyelids. And the next Ba-Boom and the pummeling on the roof. The thunderstorm lasted a half hour before it trailed away to the northeast. Back to sleep. Wake up for whimpering. Conan needed to go out.

He did not go up those stairs the rest of the visit. He also developed a phobia about the narrow hallway from “his” bedroom to the kitchen table.

When we arrived home in Albany we took a nap. Conan forgot all his troubles, and after a treat of Greenies came upstairs to nap with us. Sweetness and light. Loved that little house on the coast, but, the criteria were not met. I’ll try another next time.

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