Doughty’s First Fire

Yesterday I took Doughty out back for her morning constitutional, as usual. It was dark and foggy and chilly. There was a tinge of smoke in the air and I assumed one of the neighbors had stoked the fireplace the evening before to celebrate the arrival of the Fall chill. Doughty did her thing, then she did her other thing, which is nosing around the yard’s nooks and crannies, looking for trouble. She’s becoming an expert at nosing out trouble.

After a minute she joined me on the deck and took up one of her chew toys. Then she stopped chewing. She dropped her toy and sat up and looked off to the south through the fence toward the alleyway that runs down the middle of the block. She tilted her head and listened. In a moment I heard it too, pops and spits, as water drops sometimes sound when they drip off the eaves. The dew and drizzle in the gutters I thought. Louder than usual because of the fog and the forty percent chance of rain.

But Doughty wasn’t convinced. She continued to listen intently. The sound grew louder, became pops and cracks and sizzles. More like a campfire than the dew. I stepped down into the yard and peered over the fence.

Two houses down the alley, flames engulfed a trash can. I hustled back onto the deck and grabbed up Doughty and rushed inside and deposited her in LMA’s sleepy arms {“There’s a fire in the Alley! Call 911!”) and raced out to the garage and grabbed the shovel and blitzed down to the fire.

The shovel wasn’t much good, of course, and the fire had begun to lick and gnaw at an old wooden fence. I whacked at the flames and trash and spread as much as I could across the pavement. It hissed and burbled. Soon one of our neighbors appeared, dragging a garden hose from out of the shadows, and soon after that the fire was a black hissing pile of tin cans, melted plastic, charred fence.

Firemen appeared ten minutes later to confirm that the blaze was extinguished. Doughty had long since returned to her spot on the deck to confirm that her Nylabone was delicious.

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