Feed me, feed me

“Feed me, feed me … feed me now!

That’s the cry that wakes this nest household every morning. It’s not the cry of an owlet or even a human baby, but a dog. And a full grown dog at that! ( she’s just shy of 3 ) – but one that wakes up hungry (or ready to play!) every morning, whatever the weather, whatever the season, and whatever the day before has been like. And she cannot wait for company.

She never barks and doesn’t make any noise other than gentle scraping on the divider between our room and their night time space. It’s a quiet sound, relatively non-intrusive – at least at first – but it is relentless, and follows a pattern. It goes something like this:

-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—- no sound from us. A pause.
-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—- no sound from us. A pause.
-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—-

Again, and again, and again.
She will continue this until we respond in someway.

-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—- no sound from us. A pause.
-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—- no sound from us. A pause.
-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—-

If I wake first I find I hold my breath when the scraping stops, trying to fool her into thinking that I haven’t heard her – to buy myself a few more minutes in bed. But she isn’t easily fooled and that’s when the sound changes

Thump, thump, thump.
Thump, thump, thumpity thump!

It’s her tail wagging furiously – whacking against the divider on every to and fro (and making quite a racket)! She’s happy – so happy. We are awake. Her first task of the day is accomplished. We are less happy, because it’s early -too early – and so often hubby’s first response is to shout out

Go back to sleep!

And she does. Or at least she tries to obey him. She goes away – and lies on her mat (I suppose) and will stay there 3, 5, 8 even 10 minutes. But she will be back before long and the cycle will begin again.

-Scrape, scrape, scrape. Stop.— Listen—-
[some sound from us – JOY!]
-Thump, thump, thump.
-Thump, thump, thumpity thump!

When eventually one of us (usually my husband) responds and gets out of bed and enters their space – well that’s when the noise really begins. She’s so overjoyed to see him she cannot contain it, and very quickly the other dogs join her – making unique ‘good morning growls’ and whines – sounds we hardly ever hear at any other time of the day (or night!) Sometimes my husband joins in. That’s fun to listen to – but it is noisy!

The older dogs then go back to sleep. (They lay there with their paws over their ears/eyes, as unkeen about this unrequested early morning wake up call as we are!) They know that the food isn’t forthcoming yet, and won’t be for some time, but they trust us and know that it will come. The young one knows this too, and food is not really the issue anymore, because her basic need has been satisfied. Someone is up and she has company and the day can begin. At last!

(I’m usually still in bed at this point, covers almost completely covering my ears)

I’m convinced sleep deprivation is one of the worst things there is, and quite possibly the hardest thing about having a new-born child. Those first few weeks or months are so tough because of it. The baby can and must get the sleep he/she needs, but the parents – especially the mother in most cases – sacrifices her own needs for that of her offspring.

As I lay in bed listening to the young dog’s ‘get up, get up’ scraping this morning, I started to think of the parent owls and the owlets.

How long does the owlets’ squawking go on before the parents respond?
It’s the father who goes out to look for food for the owlets, and I can see him as he waits for the right conditions to go out.
-It is dark enough yet for the prey they need for food to be outside?
-Is it safe?
-Have those animals who would stalk him ended their day yet?
– Is it time?

If he’s reluctant to leave the warm nest is it the mother who encourages him to leave – or does the owlets’ hungry squawking drive him out?
Or is he glad to embrace a new dusk and get out of the confined space of the nest (at last!) and stretch his wings, gladly leaving the mother time home alone with their owlets?

Or is the scenario quite different?
Does the father creep out of the nest at dusk before the young  owlets are awake and long before they begin to be aware of their hunger?
Is the mother taking care of their other needs while they sleep? I don’t know.

What I am sure of is that both the mother and her owlets are very glad to see him return and are eager to join him in the feast!

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