Blackie Saves the (6.4) Day. Sort Of.

The day started with the sound of a paw scratching at my front gate. At just past 7 am, it was too early for a visit – even though I’m always up at that hour, and had I felt up to it, I’d already be on the road, walking up to the pool. But instead, I was in PJs. I cracked open a front window panel and saw Blackie (our Indonesian neighbor’s dog, aka Lola since neither my Spanish neighbor nor I know the black dog’s real name). She was having a go at the door, furiously, persistently – even after I asked her to stop and come back later (a request she sometimes heeds). Even after I shut the panel, her maniacal pawing continued.

Moments later, the house shook from its foundations up to the roof. Windows rattled, the ceiling fan swayed, and I froze in place taking it all in. The unexpected suddenness with which earthquakes happen (this one was a biggie; 6.4 on the Richter) catches everyone off guard. Some might react immediately, while for others, the reality takes time to seep in and make sense. But it never really does make sense, does it?

When it hit, I was getting dressed – a pair of underwear were the only item of clothing I’d had a chance to put on. My instinct was to run for the door. But I caught myself, twirled around, grabbed a sarong and zippered jacket and belted for the front door. A real fashion statement. (Never mind really, but earthquakes are seriously acceptable grounds for totally mismatching outfits. I’m sure there were a few other freaked out members of humanity standing – or perhaps shaking – on their terraces, decked out in sartorial faux-pas.)

But I digress.

By the time I came to my senses and everything around me stopped moving, I opened the gate. Blackie lunged at me. Went a little ballistic all over my front garden. I had to crouch on the front step to calm her – and myself – down. Then I did the only thing that made any sense: I thanked her… with bones I’d kept from the chicken soup I’d cooked the day before.

Then, I lost my voice. (Still hasn’t quite found its way home…)

I walked into town for errands. I spotted some friends. Sotte voce, I inquired where they’d been. This one was dressing, had time only to grab a pillow to cover her frontage before dashing out the front door –and seeing the pool water lapping up as if it were the sea. Another didn’t feel anything, as she’d been driving her car (I still don’t get that). Another pool story, with water flowing over the sides. Coconut palms swaying. One was in yoga. Another was preparing a smoothie – the fruit went flying. A farmer nearby said he saw the rice stalks and water move.

Back home, Blackie was waiting for me. For the rest of the day, she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was my sentry, guarding the front of my house – as she still is doing today.

Not one to take her responsibility lightly, she has apparently decided that, after saving my life, she is on lifetime tremor patrol: fully entitled to come and go as she pleases; enter and sniff about (I’ve put the kibosh on that one); loll about the terrace and lounge where anyone coming or going is required to pass her muster. Me included. She now expects the front gate to be perpetually unhinged so she can enter at her own discretion; and she pops out onto the footpath and barks, when alerted to the arrival of a (ummm) foreigner.

Plain and simple. It would seem as if I’ve been adopted by a dog. Thanks to 6.4, she now rules the roost. And I don’t have a damn thing to say about it. Except, of course, thank you.


  1. Animals are so clever. They absolutely know when something is about to happen. I think it’s wonderful that Blackie came to alert you, I think you have a friend for life there, dear Amit. Hope you find your voice soon xox

  2. Amit, this is beautiful! Blackie has found you, another child of the Universe, to stand watch over. You are one lucky lady and Blackie is another lucky lady as well.

  3. I love this story, Amit! When 6.4 hit I was up and dressed ready for the day (I thought!) I’d just opened the computer to begin a morning writing session. In the past the tremors have seemed to come with a little more warning. This one was in full on shake/rattle/roll mode right out of the gate! I dove, literally, under the bed, didn’t even take time to close the laptop. The glass in my big windows roared hideously and the floor trembled while I probably shook the most violently of all. It was definitely the strongest I’ve experienced in my 5 plus years here, and I’m in no hurry for another one!

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