Sleeping with dogs and bed hogs
When you finally give up on sleeping alone
Dogs should stay on the floor — not on my couch or on my bed. That is how I was raised. My parents had no idea that I’d scooped my Labrador Retriever mutt up and rolled him into my comforter to take photographs. Obviously by the time they got home, I’d unrolled him and we sat on the floor. And I hadn’t let a dog on my bed again for 22 years of dog ownership — until I decided to house sit for the first time. That is when I came to the conclusion that dogs are quite comfortable to sleep with, including the bed hogs.
First there was the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog who would leap off the couch and run in front of me every single time I went into the guestroom. She was ready at all times to sleep sideways. No matter how you climbed into that bed, she was going to make sure you were next to her in some form or fashion. I tried outsmarting her by laying parallel. She leaned her entire body over, belly up, so she was still leaning on me.
Then came the Ridgeback Pit mix, who’d attacked a skunk two days before I got to her home. She stank to high heaven when you got close to her, and my first thought was, “There is no way in hell I’m going to let that dog sleep next to me.” She had better ideas. She squeezed her 50–60 pound body underneath my bed each night and stayed planted there. So if I snuck out of the bed, she could see my feet. And if I climbed on the bed, she knew where I was. When the maid came while I was sleep, she knew it. When the gardeners were outside, she knew it. And eventually, I got so used to the smell underneath me for eight days that I stopped thinking skunks have a smell. Should I be concerned?
I lucked out with the French Bulldog and Great Pyrenees/Poodle Mix, who slept behind baby gates and crates. But that certainly didn’t stop the French Bulldog from making sure to only poop as close to the baby gate as possible. Some people wake up to the smell of bacon and coffee. Not me. I woke up on a couch next to the smell of puppy poop.
I was beyond relieved when the incontinent Shetland Sheepdog enjoyed sleeping in her dog bed, the same one her owner said she didn’t like. It wasn’t that the Shetland Sheepdog didn’t like her dog bed. It was only that the bed was on the other side of the room. I’d already learned from the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog that if a dog cannot lean her body weight against you, she’s not happy.
But then came the two Cairn Terriers. One of them always wanted to sleep on the bathroom rug as soon as I finished showering. And he stayed there the whole night. The other ran in circles, barking all over the house until I scooped him up to sleep beside me. I learned their sleeping habits quickly. The Chihuahua Pomeranian mix was another bedside fellow, although I always ended up waking up with hair close to my mouth. That is one heavy-shedding, lovable dog.
Then came the Brittany Spaniel, who I wasn’t quite sure about. Her owner, who’d had her for a year, would let her sleep with him. But then he got married and decided he wanted the bed to be for his spouse only. And the Brittany Spaniel did something quite bitchy. She leaped onto his bed and peed on it. I tried so hard not to burst out laughing when he told me, but hey, you can’t just let a dog sleep with you for that long and then expect her to react well to the floor. I wasn’t quite sure what she’d do in my own home. She stared at me for a second, paced the bed, huffed off and I found her on one of my couches each night. It turns out her owner had trained her so well that she wouldn’t attempt to sleep in other people’s beds either. I would not have minded — as long as she didn’t pee on my bed, too.
I thought that I would have to pick up the itty bitty Shih Tzu should he want a sleeping companion. That is, until I found out Shih Tzus may as well be kangaroos. I squatted down to pick up the Shih Tzu the first night I boarded him, only for him to leap over my back and onto the bed, turn in one circle and close his eyes. Those little bitty legs are undefeated.
I’m not saying everyone should sleep with dogs. Do whatever makes you comfortable. What I am saying is it’s all kinds of entertaining to watch what your dog will do when you call it a night.