Tonight was all about dogs, daughters and dads.

I took Sophie the sweetest and a puppy named Gunner to Turners Pond for a ramble under the moon.

Katy and a friend followed behind, i don’t know if they agreed to come along because Katy is kind, and I spend a lot of time alone walking the dog. Or if the simple fact that the wind had stopped and the moonlit fooled her into thinking it was warmer than it was- I don’t know.

Ahead, the dogs and I ran, and slowed and sniffed (they sniffed, I watched them sniff and tried not to think about what they were sniffing) and ran and jogged and trotted and stopped.

I was listening to Neil Diamond.

I grew up listening to Neil Diamond. My dad died when I was 20, yet when I put the headphones in my ears, and put on Cracklin Rosie, and turned it UP, I could hear Dad’s voice, singing along. There was the most subtle hint of the South in his voice, and he stayed right on key.

So I walked around the pond five times. I was watching the dogs, running alongside the dogs, waiting for the dogs.

I was catching little pieces of Katy and her friend’s conversation. They are 12 year old girls and they do not giggle. At least not when I’m within earshot. I think they were discussing a science test, or how Katy never lets the power go below 1% on her phone, or what kind of dog they want when they grow up. Twelve year old girls, smart 12 year old girls, aren’t the most interesting subjects for eavesdropping.

Maybe they were speaking in code.

And right next to me, inside my head, was my dad. He was singing alongside Neil Diamond, and actually sounded better than the pop star. I was listening to one of more recent albums, way after Love on the Rocks.

I thought about switching to one of the records Dad and I used to listen to- Tap Root Manuscript, or Stones, so I could remember what Mr. Diamond sounded like in his prime.

But I wasn’t listening to “Solitary Man” or “Sweet Caroline”. I was remembering my dad’s voice, how he used to always sing “Something” by the Beatles in the shower leave records all over the dining room table, how proud he looked while he watched me play my flute and the night he spent four hours listening to the “Wild and Innocent and the EStreet Shuffle” in attempt to try to understand what I liked about Bruce Spring. “Julie, he can’t sing. I mean, really, he can’t sing.”

I hadn’t remembered my father’s voice for a long time until tonight.

Dogs, Daughters and Dad.

The last song I listened to was “Thank The Lord for the Night Time.” Dad always liked that song, I think it was pretty much his party anthem.

My wild nights are home with kids, or at the gym, or following Sophia around with a bag in my hand.

But I am my father’s daughter. I may go to bed early by his standards, but I never wake up until after dark.

That’s when I’m wide awake. That’s when I make time to listen.

     Tonight called for a long, leisurely stroll around Turner’s Pond with Sophie, Katy, my eight year old, and her two friends, Thanh and Tue. We took off around 6:30.
     The sun glowed orange and red, the girls raced on ahead playing tag, i think. I was listening to Michael Frante on headphones. From time to time I’d pause for the awkward conversation between fellow dog walkers that happens while our respective dogs sniffed each other’s respective butts.

      At the end of the walk, I left the girls to collect the Wonder Pup so I could catch up on Words with Friends and beat my mother, (another story.)
      Suddenly I heard “Sophie’s looking for something…” Next “Sophie’s chasing chickens. Mom, she’s chasing the chickens and I don’t think they like it.” Immediately followed by “Sophie’s in the CHICKEN COOP!”
     Let me make this clear, I don’t take my family and my dog walking on a farm or anywhere near a farm. This was Turner’s Pond, where at best I thought she’d chase some ducks. Ducks who have wings and know how to use them. Maybe some geese, who might teach her a lesson and bite her on the nose.
     So when I sprinted thru the woods, I had no idea what I was looking for, I was just following the sounds of little girl screams, an occasional bark, and some panting.
     Set back from the path, there it was. A chicken coop, and just outside the coop a yard, the whole thing all neatly penned in with chicken wire. “Katy, where’s Sophie?” “She’s inside.” I lifted the roof of the chicken coop, and there she was, in a space about the size of the inside of a very small oven, accompanied by three very scared chickens.
     Katy ran away crying. Sophie looked at me and tried to wag her tail, though it was difficult, given that chicken coops, by definition, are on the small side. The chickens cowered, Sophie wagged and smiled. She was ready to settle down for a sleepover with poultry.
     “Tue, Thanh, help me!” The girls lifted up the roof the chicken coop so I was able to reach in and pry Sophie, all 52 very reluctant pounds of puppy, out of our feathered friends home.
     The sun was down by the time we left the Pond, Katy’s tears were dry by the time we left the pond, and on our way home from the pond, I promised Tue and Thanh a trip to the yogurt bar.
     But not tonight. I’m still looking for long and leisurely, so right now, I’m heading upstairs for a bath. Tomorrow, I’ll go apologize to the chickens.