Thursday, February 9, 2012
Leaving sleeping dogs lie
Yes, we let Ben sleep with us -- since he was a puppy. . . once he be could be trusted to not unload anything rated "X" on our 300-count Egyptian cotton. (Full disclosure: We've NEVER had 300-count Egyptian cotton sheets. I buy ours -- on sale -- at Fred Meyers.)
Now, this practice may appall you (dogs? sheets? all of the above?) -- or you may applaude it. But, in my books, it's all a matter of taste -- and ultimately investing in a queen-size bed (which we did, by the way, all for Ben).
Ben sleeping with us is no modest undertaking. While not in the Category Great Dane, Ben weighs in at about 45 pounds and is probably about 30 inches at the shoulder. He has those four legs to our two, and then there's his tail, which when unfurled, could probably power the Mayflower to Plymouth Rock at speeds of MACH 10 and beyond. Needless to say, we've all learned new and creative ways of curling up and/or stretching out.
Then we come to The Ritual. Ben's not the typical, happy-go-lucky dog who bounces right up into the Mother Ship, no questions asked. He has A Ritual.
Of course. Only Ben would have A Ritual.
It starts with him watching us gravely as we bustle about carrying out the last of our bedtime ministrations. Once settled in bed with our latest reads, we pat the comforter and beckon Ben to bed.
He makes it clear there are Things To Be Considered. Ben evaluates the sincerity of our invitation seriously, then turns to ponder his options, which appear to reside in the shadowy corners of our bedroom.
Hmmmm. Their bed? my bed? the carpet? the TV room futon? So many choices. Ben takes a moment to stare, long and thoughtfully toward the TV room.
But then, he stands and stretches, slowly and languorously, and glances toward us. A decision is made: Ben sits and proceeds to do a thorough and scientific examination of His Rocket.
During this servicing, Ben appears to make yet another decision.
Slowly and deliberatively, he looks up and makes his way to our south-facing, always-cracked window. He takes a long, meditative draw of the neighborhood's fresh, clean, cold air and savors it like a skilled sommelier, considering and processing its subtle, shifting nuances. Finally, with a snort, Ben deems the evening good and safe or, at least, acceptable.
He muses on his decision for a second or two. And then silently hops up on our bed, pads to its foot and curls up like a gray doughnut. Ben faces outward, ready to protect us from evil. At the same time, he keeps a bit of his shoulder touching the WPS, a bit of his haunch, touching me. If the WPS and/or I toss, turn and shift during the night, Ben re-orients and re-positions for touch. In the middle of the night, I can always reach out and find him for a quiet pat on the back.
Ben knows, he who descends from The Pack. And so do we -- when we wake up in the middle of the night and we need a moment of orientation or comfort.
It is about The Touch -- and who has your back.