Last summer I banished the dog from our bedroom at night. We’d been letting him sleep on a chair by our bed, but he started stirring around and making noise at 2 a.m. each night. So I took Charlie and his doggie bed downstairs to the sunroom and explained that, at my age, I need all the beauty sleep I can get.
But the weather has turned bitterly cold the past few nights, and my icy determination to exile the dog has thawed. The sunroom isn’t heated, and Charlie isn’t well-insulated. No matter how much he eats, he stays perpetually skinny. (Some dogs have all the luck.) And he doesn’t have long hair, unlike the cat who has so much hair that I could make four other cats using only the fluff piles that come off when I brush her.
One night, instead of putting Charlie in the sunroom, we let him follow us upstairs to bed. He seemed to sense that his luck had changed, and he wasn’t about to blow the opportunity. So he curled up on a blanket at the foot of the bed and stayed perfectly quiet and still the entire night.
But as is often the case, dogs (and humans) adjust to their new good fortune all too quickly. The past few chilly nights, Charlie hasn’t been content with his place on a blanket at the foot of the bed. As soon as we’re unconscious, he burrows under the covers. One night, Tom came to bed late and thought I was playing footsie with him when he got into bed, only to be disappointed when he realized the warm nudge against his ankles was actually a dog.
I’ve heard from other people who say they, too, have a dog who insists on going under cover at night. I’m not even sure how they breathe under there. Doesn’t it get too hot? Don’t they feel like they’re suffocating?
Apparently, it’s just right for Charlie. When he does get a bit too warm, he eases up the bed until only his head sticks out of the covers. One morning, I woke up because I felt something sticking me between the shoulder blades. I thought maybe it was the TV remote or a book I’d left in bed. But when I glanced over my shoulder, I realized it was Charlie’s paw, and he was stretching out to claim more bed real estate.
When our three kids were little, we were used to waking up with a pointy elbow or knee in the middle of our backs at least once a week. It seemed like there was always either a bad dream to soothe or a “monster under the bed” situation or a middle-of-the-night fever to tend to. Parenting is often a round-the-clock job.
But now that the kids are 15, 12 and 10 years old, we thought we’d finally graduated from that phase of life. We weren’t counting on a four-legged kid picking up where the others left off.
When we woke up this morning, we told Charlie it was time to get up. Then we watched as a slow-moving lump under the covers moved up the bed and emerged from his comforter cave. He did a full-body shake to wake up and then trotted downstairs for breakfast.
If you ask me, I think this dog is getting too big for his Beagle britches. Maybe I should get Charlie some doggie fleece pajamas so he can move back to the sunroom at night. It’s like the old saying goes, “If you give a dog an inch, he’ll take your whole bed.”
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.