We may disagree on a number of things, such as the best way to unroll the toilet paper, from the top or from the bottom, but my darling and I are in complete accord when it comes to dogs. We love them, and can’t live without them.
If you’re not a dog person, or even a cat person, (birds and fish are questionable) you may want to stop reading now. If you decide to continue, please do not judge us.
Proof of our adoration would be the succession of dogs with whom we’ve shared our lives over the past forty years. Different colors, different breeds, but they had one thing in common. They were big. Therefore, they shared our lives and our bedrooms, but not our bed.
Let me explain about our bed. In the absurd, but amusing terminology from the company whose mission it is to keep us awake, I would describe our bed as Grande, larger than a Tall, but definitely smaller than a Venti. We are both more or less average size people, so the Grande, or queen-sized bed, as it is commonly known, has always been perfectly adequate. Besides, who has the arm span to fold a king-sized sheet? If there’s a woman out there who does, I don’t think I want to meet her.
But, back to the point. Enter Sam into our lives. Sam is a 15-pound rough coat Russell Terrier, who, in Starbuck-speak, is a Short. To equal the size of one of our Labrador Retrievers would require five Sams.
Having a small dog for the first time is a very different experience. It’s like having a puppy that never grows larger. And you know how it is with puppies. Well, some of you do, anyway. Therefore, those of you not already excluded by the second paragraph will completely understand the temptation to continue to snuggle with Sam at bedtime – in our medium-sized, but formerly adequate bed.
At first, it was just for a few minutes. When we were actually ready to turn out the lights, I would gently place young Sam in his cozy crate, where he, and we, would be safe for the night.
When Sam got a bit older, and I could trust him not to consume my bedroom rug, I bought him a bed. This was not any old dog bed, but the ultimate in dog beds, purchased from the Neiman-Marcus of dog bed stores. Nothing was too good for our Sam.
For a while, we held to the same routine. Cuddle for a while, then into the supreme dog bed for the night. This was working just fine. Until it wasn’t.
The visits in our bed got gradually longer, so when we tried to place the sleeping Sam into his own over-priced mattress, he would wake up and give us his most forlorn stare, accompanied by a muted, but very pathetic, whine.
We disagree about which of us was the first to give in. I know it was him. Nevertheless, Sam now spends the entire night in our bed, the size of which currently feels diminished to a Tall.
Sleeping has become an entirely new experience. At first, Sam was polite, and would curl up at the foot of the bed. But gradually, he worked his way to cuddle positions, sleeping between us. And, if he’s dreaming he’s an Alpha dog, he crawls to the top of the pillows and sleeps above our heads. And I dream there’s a furry tail tickling my nose.
It’s not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night because a large mass has been tossed against my legs. It’s my husband, repositioning Sam. “Why did you do that?” I ask in a tone of voice appropriate for one disturbed from a lovely sleep. “He’s touching me,” he replies.
“Goodness,” I think. “What if it had been me?”
You recall the old saying, Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum publicibus? Of course you do. But you may remember it as: Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.
Fortunately, this is not the case with Sam. But I do wake up with an occasional stiff neck, cramped leg, or a cold tush because the dog has requisitioned my share of the blanket, or half of my portion of the bed.
I’d be less than truthful if I said that having a dog in our bed has not affected our intimacy. We must reach over Sam to deliver a good-night kiss, and the old “spoons” position is no longer possible. Which is probably just as well, because my honey might reflexively fling me off the bed.
And I never use the old excuse of “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.” That has been replaced with “Please. Not in front of the dog.”
Buying Sam his own bed has not been a complete waste. It’s the perfect spot for his daytime naps and for hoarding the bits of paper he steals from the wastebaskets.
As for us, we shall remain cozy but crowded, because I’m sure even a larger bed would not prevent Sam from sleeping on my head. And there is the matter of those sheets.