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At 12:01 this morning I was outside, on the back porch, in the 48 degree weather, sitting on a cold plastic chair and petting the stray dog that had been barking.  Inside, on the window sill, sat the three cats: Junior, Whitey and Jingles.  All of them were looking at me.  I drank some Dr. Pepper, took a puff on my cigarette, and stared at the stars.

The dog, Red (aka Red Dog, Red Girl, Dog, Sweetness) is a neighborhood stray.  She showed up one day (actually, she was enticed by the youngest child) looking starved and nervous.  I’ll be honest, I’m a complete sucker for animals.  I don’t want to be.  I don’t really want any pets because, eventually, they die.  And I become very attached to them and hate having to deal with that.

So I start my birthday by sitting out in the cold and letting this dog know that she’s not alone.  And I sit there with her until she lays back down on her blanket and starts to nod off.  The cats, I know, think I’m a fool.  Although I get the sneaky suspicion that Junior approves.

I try and rationalize this by telling myself that I don’t want Red to wake up the neighbors. Once I’m outside I can’t resist the urge to look for Comet Holmes, but it’s a fools errand because I don’t know where to look or even if it’s visible from where I am.   But I look, and I scratch behind Red’s ears as she lays her head down, and I sit in the dark, cold, silence.

I go back inside and give each of the cats a scratch on the head before heading up to bed, where I’ll sit there for another hour before Red starts whining again.  I repeat the above ritual and she appeases me by sleeping until 5:15am, when she wakes me up.  This would be the third time I would sit outside, in the cold, but this time I have coffee with me.  And I’m enjoying it.   I don’t think I’d want to do this every night, but it was nice.  The downside is that I only got three hours of sleep.