I hear rustling in the other room. I hear four pairs of paws. They are scratching on their plastic kennel liners.

6:23 A.M.—I wake up. I hobble out of bed. It takes longer to wake up than it used to. In these morning moments, many thoughts go through my head.

Thoughts like: Why does my back hurt? Did I sleep on a billiard ball last night? What is my name? What is this new pain in my ankle? I don’t remember hurting my ankle. My ankle really hurts. Why does my ankle hurt? Is this even my ankle? I need coffee.

I shuffle to the kitchen. There it is. The coffee pot. I see it. On the stove. Glory be.

But the imaginary voice of my wife speaks to me, even though my actual wife is still asleep.

Imaginary Wife says, “Take your vitamins BEFORE you make coffee, or else you’ll forget.”

But I hate vitamins. My wife buys liquid vitamins that need to be mixed with water. They taste like industrial strength Lysol.

I fill a water glass and mix in liquid vitamins. I toss it back. I gag. I lean over the sink and start to moan. What in God’s name is that pain in my ankle?

I hear rustling in the other room. I hear four pairs of paws. They are scratching on the plastic kennel liners.

The heathens are awake. I hear tails wagging. It sounds like:


The closer I get to the kennels, the faster the thwats become.


I operate with extreme care. These dogs have been cooped up all night and are ready to to reenact the final scene from the “Great Escape.”

The other morning, I opened the kennel doors and the dogs nearly knocked me over and broke my neck.

“Calm down,” I tell them.

The kennel doors open. Two large-breed dogs leap from their crates like Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson bound for freedom. I fall to the ground and nearly snap my neck.

I shout words which I won’t print here.

The dogs scratch the back door. Which is basically all they ever do. Door-scratching.

My dogs scratch to go out. They scratch to come in. They scratch to show disapproval. They scratch if I forget to recycle. They scratch to express various political views.

In fact, while I write this column, they are scratching my thighs and I can’t even finish typing this senten

I open the back door because they are communicating that they have to tee-tee. Badly.

When the door opens, they run into the backyard and race in circles. Before doing their business, they must sniff every inch of the yard. Then, once they have found the quintessential tee-tee spot beneath the oak tree, they ignore it and urinate on the porch steps instead.

I have not made coffee yet.

I place our percolator on the stove. Corningware. Cornflower Blue. Foldgers. There is a big spoon in the coffee jar. My wife told me to use three scoops this morning. No more, no less.

I made coffee yesterday morning and used six scoops by accident. My wife drank one cup and got so jacked up on caffeine that she cleaned the house, did our taxes, dusted ceiling fans, cut the grass, tarred the roof, replaced our alternator, and collapsed in a coma.

The dogs scratch at the door.

“Let us in,” they are saying.

So I let them inside. Next, I try to start writing more of this column, but the dogs scratch the door and won’t let me finish one single, god-forsaken paragr

“Let us out,” they are saying.

More scratching.

“Let us in.”





This is my life.

The coffee is ready. The pot makes a popping sound on the stove. My favorite sound in the world.

I still can’t get the taste of the vitamins out of my mouth. I wipe my tongue with a dishrag. I accidentally gag myself doing this.

I have a very sensitive gag reflex. My childhood dentist knew this about me. Whenever he saw me coming he would call me the “Puke of Earl” or “Marma-Puke,” or “Matthew, Mark, Puke, and John.”

I wish I were making this up.

I am seated on the sofa now. Hot coffee in hand. But my dogs own this sofa, they are not allowing me a space to sit.

So I shove them off the sofa because I am a man. And all the dog training books I’ve read stress the importance of asserting dominance within the pack, thereby demonstrating oneself as the “alpha male.”

I explain this to my dogs. They listen politely, then vomit up the half-digested remains of a pinecone onto the sofa.

So I get up and leave.

When I do, they follow me. They jump on me. I fall backward and spill my coffee. And I catch myself.

In the process, I tweak something in my foot and it makes me scream. All of a sudden, I remember exactly what happened to my ankle yesterday morning.

And I would tell you all about it, but right now my dogs are scratc


  1. Meredith Smith - August 1, 2019 10:07 am

    Good Morning Sean,
    I love this column. It is so refreshing to see that other people in this world have the exact same morning routine that I live through. Except the dogs, mine are now up in heaven. Probably causing trouble for some poor Angel every morning. But when they were here I had the exact routine – In, Out, In, Out, In, Out… Until my elixer was ready and then they decided it was time to bother me. As for Rxs, well I have a chronic medical condition that requires me to take 11 pills every morning and 8 every evening. Yech. Our pharmaceutical industry is getting rich off me. And right now my back is aching for no good reason.
    Yeah Sean, thank you for today’s column …. Now I know that I am not alone!! ?

  2. Elizabeth - August 1, 2019 10:49 am

    Omg, that’s hysterical and so true! And wiping you tongue with the dish rag to get rid of the taste, priceless!!! We have in, out, in, out, people here too! Drives me nuts! I swear they know exactly when I’ve sat down to work on something or have collapsed from exhaustion, then scratch, scratch, scratch!!!! Thanks for this!

  3. Ron Smith - August 1, 2019 10:54 am

    Love your usual thought provoking morning columns (generally funny too); however, this is THE most hilarious one I have ever read! Thx for a laugh out loud start to my day.

  4. Mississippi Girl - August 1, 2019 12:14 pm

    That was laugh-out-loud funny. I don’t have a dog, my cats have a pet door, and I don’t drink coffee, but I can visualize your morning. You are the best! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jill - August 1, 2019 12:39 pm

    I can so relate! Morning routine much like your own. Five o’clock the scratching begins from this little being that is called a dog. Dobbie, who due to personal reasons I now have as my own. Chain reaction to the pitter patters and excited anticipation of my awakening. One eye open, I dress slowly to take all four out to the same exact need they seem to share as in smelling every blade of grass. Groggy I do note that the sun is rising in her majestic color thus the other eye opens, and sighing I finally am able to make my coffee too after filling their bowls. Hurriedly they gulp down as if they have never been fed a meal within their lives. But Sean, I’d bet you a nickel our mornings would be awfully quiet without them.

  6. Audrie. From Virginia - August 1, 2019 12:40 pm

    I just love your stories. Years ago I put a dog door in an that’s the best invention ever. Saves on ankles for sure. Enjoy your day.

  7. Joe Patterson - August 1, 2019 12:43 pm

    My dogs are little but they get me up every morning at 6 and after they and the two cats finish outside I must feed them all before coffee .Have a great day

  8. Shelton A. - August 1, 2019 12:54 pm

    Ahhh, yes. The joy of life with dogs. It’s why I only have one this time. She still does the same stuff but there’s only one. Can’t gang up on me with one. Truly funny…LOL! Hope your ankle is ok.

  9. Mara Russell - August 1, 2019 1:49 pm

    Shawn, thanks for the gift of laughter and love you give us every day.

  10. Jess - August 1, 2019 1:53 pm

    Sean, I’m there with you on the dog routine. For some weird reason my wife and I “adopted” two puppies to go along with my three-year old dog. You may wonder why we did that…..well we’re wondering that too. I take them outside frequently so they can do their business outdoors, then when I bring them back inside the do more of their business inside. I don’t recall having this much trouble with my three-year old dog….but then again maybe I did and have thankfully forgotten. Hang in there Sean, the first seventy years of life are the toughest…..things go smoothly after that. If you believe that I’ve got some land in Athens, GA, to sell ya……real cheap too.

  11. Steve Winfield - August 1, 2019 2:09 pm

    You’re the only other person I’ve known about that wipes their tongue with a rag. Whatever works, huh?

  12. Tina Harman - August 1, 2019 2:09 pm

    One of the best, and funniest, columns I’ve read in a long time! Loved it.

  13. Janet Mary Lee - August 1, 2019 3:37 pm

    Love this column!!! Your dog stories are always appreciated!! My dog used to use a doggie door. I loved it!! Then she got where she would not use it to come in, but use it to go out. She was terrified after 41/2 years. Still not sure why. So we play that game too! I have an old washed out sign by the door- Agenda for the day: Let dog in-let dog out-let dog in-you get the picture! Her saving grace is she loves to sleep, and never wakes me. She loves kisses and napping too! For this old lady, it doesn’t get any better than that!! Still laughing at your column!!!

  14. Linda Moon - August 1, 2019 3:57 pm

    Morning thoughts of coffee are among the best of the waking moments, sometimes mixed in with a little mind-music from Bob Dylan or Levon Helm. Back in the day, my Mom make me take a liquid vitamin – Vidaylin. It would’ve been great even drizzled over bacon. She had to keep it on a high shelf to prevent me from doing that! Dogs, and my two cats, often scrat

  15. Ken Dunn - August 1, 2019 6:27 pm

    TIP OF THE DAY to you and your readers- NEVER take vitamins- liquid, pills, tablets, etc.- on an empty stomach. They will make you sicker than 2 dead roaches. Take vitamins generally after breakfast- it doesn’t have to be a 9 course meal, it can be a piece of toast, 6 soda crackers, etc.- just something to buffer the vitamins. In ’96 I formulated a liquid vitamin, mineral, amino, enzyme product that tastes good, you only tale 2 tablespoons after breakfast, and it gives you your daily needs. Next time try my product !

  16. throughmyeyesusa - August 1, 2019 8:58 pm

    Sean, I know you love your Corningware coffee pot and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you dispose of it. But somewhere in a corner of the kitchen, just for that first cup in the morning, how about trying a programmable pot you can set each evening so your coffee is ready first thing and you can carry it around while you do dog duties? It would make mornings so much more bearable.

  17. Kathy Grey - August 1, 2019 10:50 pm


  18. Kristine Wehrheim - August 1, 2019 11:22 pm

    I agree with the coffee pot/ not necessarily programmed but at least set it up and hit the button before you let wild ones out! I only have one wild one now. She is almost 9 and sick and sometimes I wake up before her. I gave her a bath today and she is upset and pouting. Don’t want to give her a pain pill. They take her spunk away. ❤️??

  19. That's jack - August 2, 2019 1:32 am

    You need to reprogram your wife to get up first or you need to be reprogramed to get up AFTER the coffee is made. A college grad should know this! Just sayin. Even if you graduated at 63!
    Good read,
    Sherry & jack in North Carolina at present

  20. Gail - August 2, 2019 3:02 pm

    Dishrag tongue! Hee hee!

  21. Charlene Caver - August 2, 2019 10:31 pm

    Thank you, Sean. Yet again, you leave me with a smile. This week has been a hard one. My favorite aunt passed away and since she had no children or husband, her arrangements were left to me. Bad enough week but as I write this, I’m sitting in DFW waiting for a connector that I should’ve been on hours ago but missed due to “technical difficulties” at the previous airport. I am sure you have no idea how your articles touch our souls but I’d just like to tell you that they often lift my spirits in one way or another and every article touches me in some way. Thank you for defying the odds, working toward your dream, and never giving up. You’re an amazing example and a true inspiration. By the way, I’ve read your book. Incredible. I’ve already pre-ordered your next. Keep it up.

  22. Nell Thomas - August 3, 2019 10:02 am

    I can sure relate to this. It gets more spastic with 3 cats and a dog something’s than when I had 4 kids at home. Great reveal- love it.

  23. Mary Ellen Hall - August 3, 2019 4:12 pm

    I LOVE this story Sean, & can DEFINITELY IDENTIFY!❤
    My husband & I have & LOVE; a VERY ACTIVE LAB, named Nestle’.? She is our child!!? However, she does exactly what your SWEET PUPS do: in & out ALL DAY!! As u know, it can b VERY EXHAUSTING!!!? However, she ABSOLUTELY is worth the EXHAUSTION, as I KNOW your PUPS r!!????

    Mary Ellen Hall

  24. Estelle - August 5, 2019 9:23 am

    Thanks for the laugh. In-out repeat all day


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