It took a long time for my husband and I to get a dog. When we first married, we had cats.
After that, we had kids.
Really, really allergic kids.
So a bunch of years went by with no furry little pals.
But then the kids got older, were able to manage their own inhalers and nose sprays, and we finally broke down and got a big old dog. We loved him with our whole hearts……but we never let him on the bed.
After a while, we got another dog. Still no bed snuggles.
And all was well.
Until both of our beloved old pups moved across that famous rainbow bridge and all three kids had the audacity to grow up.
At that point, the only one who begged to hug us at bedtime was our puppy, Lennie. Paul tried to be strong, and to hold onto his “no dogs on the bed” rule, but I was weak.
I mean, picture this. It’s a cold winter night, and you’re in your jammies, snuggled under your warm, soft blankies. You pick up your book, but you are suddenly distracted by a soft whine. You look to your left, and you are met with the big brown begging eyes of your puppy. He holds your gaze for a second, then he shivers dramatically, from the tip of his wet black nose to the end of his whippy golden tail.
You have no choice.
You pull back the blanket and make the international “come-here-doggy” kissy noise. Your sweet pup jumps up on the bed, licks your cheek and gives a deep, heart felt sigh. He falls asleep against your ribs, reminding you of your babies in ways that make you melt.
And there you are.
Suddenly you find yourself a co-sleeper with a mutt. Even though you are a happily married woman.
Cognitively, you know that this is ridiculous. There could be dirt. Fur. Ticks and deadly diseases.
But he’s so soft.
Time goes by, and that pup stays put every damn night. In fact, he starts to feel like he’s in control of who gets to use the pillow.
But it’s OK.
And then, for reasons that escape you now, reasons that seem to be tied to “save the poor little abandoned baby” and “wouldn’t your little Lennie love to have a playmate?”, you find yourself the happy Mommy of a whole new puppy.
A floppy, squishy, slinky black oil slick of a basset hound/lab mix. A happy bundle of love who instinctively understands that he is supposed to sleep right under your arm, with his long nose resting on your face.
Months go by. Months in which you question your sanity. Months in which sleep eludes you because there’s a dog butt on your left ankle and a dog head on your throat.
At last, though, the universe shows you that your current sleep situation has an important use after all.
You go to Florida with your sister and in spite of your best efforts, you burn to a crisp. You come home peeling like a banana. Molting like a snake. You leave shreds of crispy epidermis behind you wherever you go.
And. You. Itch.
No matter how much Aveeno, Cocoa Butter, Gold Bond, Vaseline you smooth onto your skin, you itch all night long.
And that’s when you finally discover the gift that you’ve been given by sleeping with two big dogs.
It happened to me last night. We’d been out for most of the day and well into the night. We finally got home after midnight, and the dogs were filled with the need to cuddle right up against us.
So I fell asleep with my big soft basset boy curled into my back. And I woke up thirty minutes later with every millimeter of my back itching. I started to reach back to scratch what I could reach, but then I realized that Bentley’s long sharp claws were resting against my back.
“Thank you, God,” I whispered. Then I proceeded to wiggle, wriggle and slither along those claws, finding the relief that has escaped me for the past week.
An hour later, I woke up again, itching all over my back. And again, Bentley’s perfect scratching post claws were right there. I wiggled and wriggled some more, while Bentley simply snored.
This went on all night.
I itched, I wriggled, he scratched. It was the most heavenly relief.
So you see?
She who lies down with dogs might wake up with fleas, but at least she’ll get some relief from the desire to peel off all of her own skin.
I knew I was doing the right thing when I invited Lennie under the covers!