I have to say though, it was good to come home to a house with lights on, and someone waiting for me. Before I got Barkley I remember too well, the years of coming home to an empty house, something I'd just grown used to. It was as if loneliness were a callous and complete condition of living which seems forever fixed, only to melt before a pair of brown eyes and a wagging tail, that capricious and faithful spirit that forever waits.
I had gotten spoiled before this last assignment though. I've only had to take one overnight trip since we got Abby, Partner watching her at home while I was gone. But I DID bring her a new toy when I returned that time.
No one was up late. Abby collecting her beloved stuffed toys and one by one carrying them to her bed in my office, while she then sleeps on the futon from which she can look down the hallway to where the bedroom is.
Early the next morning, not long after dawn, I wake to an unusual noise. I can sleep through trains all night long, but if there is a sound in the house that isn't normal, I'm awake in a nanosecond. The sound was odd, there in the dim stillness of the house, almost as if Abby was eating something. It wasn't Abby crunching on a piece of kibble left in her bowl. It almost had a plastic sound. Then it stopped. Partner got up to investigate. I heard a laugh and was told to come look.
She'd snagged the puffy bag of beef jerky out of my briefcase. She didn't try and gnaw it open, thinking perhaps it was just a really tasty smelling toy.
I was just keeping your bed warm until you came back.