Today’s #TBT is courtesy of yesterday’s thunderstorms.
In the seventh grade our family got a Border Collie puppy. Cinder.
When she was still fairly young she was outside and lightning struck something very near our house. My dad says the hair on his arms stood on end, and Cinder came barreling through the doorway, almost knocking him over. From that point forward, she had a phobia of loud noises or anything that could be construed as either thunder or lightning.
For years she would hide in bathtubs. Once she got too arthritic for that, she would go huddle in the corner of my parents’ closet. I’ve always thought she was a tremendously smart dog for knowing the best places to be. But then again, she was a Border Collie, and they are known for their intelligence.
They are also known for their overwhelming need to herd all the things. She nipped at heels, and gave the “Border Collie stare” to soccer balls. The swimming pool was the bane of her existence, because kids ran around it, and she was pretty sure they should not be doing that. Sometimes they jumped in, and she was very sure that was not okay. She once grabbed my sister’s jacket when she got too close to the edge of a dock.
She thought she was the only one who could see through glass.
Reflections off of watches or drinking glasses would send her into a frenzied panic of barking. I can’t even fathom what would have happened if someone brought a prism into the house. She chased a flashlight beam with more concentration than any cat. Don’t think that turning off the flashlight would end the game, she’d stare it down until you turned it back on. We had to hide them, and anything that resembled a flashlight, because she would sit and stare at it for hours. That is not an exaggeration. If she knew where where one was hidden, she would stare at that spot. Power outages were… interesting.
During Christmas dinner we would place a flashlight beside the TV; even her love for food couldn’t surpass her need to make sure the flashlight didn’t move. Plus, she looked to be intently watching sportsball.
She was the single most intensely focused animal I have ever known. And the most devoted. She was never as happy as when she was beside my dad, all the better if he happened to be in a car. He owned an old imported Land Rover, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. Cinder would ride in the passenger seat with her head hanging out of the window, looking for all the world like she was driving.
As the years passed her hearing failed, but the vibrations of loud noises still made her nervous. Her eyes got cloudy, but she didn’t need to be able to see well to stare at a flashlight. She lived to be 14 years old. And even though she has been gone for years, her absence feels noticeable.
I still see reflections on the ceiling and instinctively wait to hear her bark. It was both hilarious and annoying.
I wish I could hear it one more time.