Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8, 2010 - Sweet Dreams Are Made of This


We let the dogs sleep with us Saturday night, or at least most of 'em. Freya prefers her crate, the only pug-free time she has to call her own (moms will understand, I'm sure) and because we're concerned that he'll get knocked off the edge in the night, Archie joins the pack by often snoozing on a blanket on the floor by the bed. Sammie, Spencer, Loki and Sherman, however, were delighted to all be allowed in. Most often, especially during the week, they're all locked out of the human's den - love 'em, but the mamas have to get some rest for work.

So, anyway, when I dozed off Saturday, it was with Sherman by my calf, chin resting on my ankle, Sammie by my knee and lower thigh, Spencer with his butt against my ribs, his head on Cj's pillow, and his front paw draped companionably across her head. Loki was on the outside, curled into the curve of her hip and thigh. It's quite cozy, if a bit crowded, on a cold autumn night.

When I drifted back awake Sunday morning, Cj had already gotten up, across the hall to watch some chick-flick and write her soldier for the week (we're both members of the Soldier's Angels Letter Writing Team). Sammie and Sherman had followed her, Loki and Spencer had opted to stay in bed. Spencer was aligned with my legs, Loki was snoring none too softly with his head comfortably pillowed on my stomach. It was so sweet I just stayed there for a bit, letting them both sleep, until a full bladder and aching hip demanded I move.

Pugs (and apparently beagles, I'm learning) are most excellent sleeping companions. Too much so, sometimes, if you have to get up and be somewhere at a particular time. I still have my job, I suspect, only because my manager is a dog-loving and sympathetic soul who's been a few minutes late herself a time or two because moving her two warm and snoring canine bedmates was more than her willpower was up for.

On the one hand, they DO tend to hog the space, steal the blankets, snore and fart, all of which can be profoundly annoying in a human companion, but for some reason are more cute than aggravating in a dog. At least the dog, having farted under the blanket, has the courtesy to not flap the blanket and share the wealth, and he's companionable enough to not mind if you fart or snore too.

On the other hand, dogs are warm, really warm. It's not at all hard to really comprehend the concept of the phrase "three dog night;" i.e. a night cold enough to require a third dog on the bed to stay comfortably warm.

Mostly, I suspect, humans, whether we want to own up to it or not, are pack animals, just like dogs and wolves. Like them, we're hardwired on some deep, primitive, visceral level to crave the comfort and safety of sleeping in a bunch. We just sleep better when we're part of a "puppy pile," paws and limbs intertwined, touching, nestling like littermates. On some level, we know we're most vulnerable when we're unconscious, and feel then the safety in numbers. Over the centuries, humans have come to rely upon the keener senses of the dogs to be the first to notice a predator or enemy approaching our cave/tent/nest/home. William of Orange made the pug the national dog of The Netherlands after his pug, Pompey, alerted him to approaching attackers, saving his life. Dogs, meanwhile, have come to understand that, if they wake up their humans in time, the humans will put their brains and thumbs into defending the den. Sleeping in happy little piles has proved to be very beneficial to both sides.

Time for me to go, see if I can slide my foot out from under a sleeping Spencer, probably get to sleep with Sherman, who's quick as a snake if he sees a crack in the bedroom door, wish it weren't a work night, try to get some sleep. Y'all have a good night. Toss an extra dog on the bed if you need to. If you don't have an extra dog, look for a rescue in your area - winter's coming. You may need another one.