We've been in our little house for about four months now, and I've just realized that I am still acclimating.

Sure, I don't feel the numbness in my fingers anymore as I sit in the cold dining area, shivering just a little bit as I wait for the heat to kick on (or so I tell myself, when you and I both know it rarely gets above 65 in here during the winter).

The creaky spots on the floor are familiar enough now. So's the raspy struggling fan in the guest bathroom. Even our neighbor's (giant, totally BA) truck that sits outside our window only sometimes wakes me as he makes his pre-dawn morning commute. And the barks of neighbor dogs are fairly familiar now, too.

That's the thing, though. The dogs. I would venture that at least half the houses in our neck of the neighborhood are home to at least one dog. There are lots of dogs. And they make noise. Like, a lot of noise. I'm not complaining - Lord and sundry know that my dogs probably make the most noise. But I just had a moment, and I realized that I have these moments almost every day.

With all the dogs around, and all their attitudes and urgent communications, it can sometimes be hard to tell a shrill bark from a panic, or to tell a lonely, bored wail from agony. And when I hear what sounds like panic or pain from the canine cacophony, something happens to me.

I get a rush of adrenaline. I drop what I'm doing immediately, and make a visual sweep for my pups. Eli is usually passed out on the couch, easy to find. Rory, though, could be anywhere. I'll call for her if I don't see her within half a second, and the clank of her collar tags is instant relief.

When I hear what might be, but probably is not, a distressed animal, and I have to make sure my own are safe.

It's not exactly my favorite way to pass the time. Really though, this might be the only complaint I have about our little house. That, and the chilly corners.

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