deSunlight pierces the window precisely at 6:30 a.m. I feign sleep but sense brown eyes penetrating my deceit.

I know the flutter of an eyelid, a shift of sore hips, one lateral move of a blanketed foot will mean my 60-pound blue heeler leaping onto the bed and draping his torso across mine. For Cowboy, this serves two purposes. He can see out the window better and we both know that I can’t take his weight for long.

But this is OK. A good sidekick can keep you out of trouble.

Not only does the morning rousting mean that the trail will soon be rising up to meet us but it spares me too much morning contemplation. No lying about bed, head swimming with reruns. Better to get up than be just another quack.

Cowboy apparently was born with a bossy side, though he was a very sick guy when he arrived here five years ago. But he had a full bag of tricks even as a pup. This is the move he pulled three days into foster care, watching what was maybe his first rain storm after spending many weeks at an animal hospital with a tick-inflicted disease called erlichiosis. I decided he could stay.

He quickly took charge of the mornings. I have tried to enforce a two-cups-of-coffee rule, but he knew from the get-go how to pull my chain.

I have caught him in moments of self-contemplation but these days he is more likely to prevent me from wallowing in mine.

Now, if I could just find my socks.

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