Sleeping with dogs

Some years ago I saw a survey posted on the Internet about how many animals people slept with; the results were both surprising and heartening. There are actually people out there with more beasts in their bed than me!

Certainly the plethora of stuffed animals I insisted on sleeping with all throughout my childhood was an indication of things to come, and I’ve wondered about running my own survey on the somnambulistic implications of childhood toys being allowed in bed. But the good news is that in our culture, a significant percentage of the population seems to have a certain amount of fur on their bedclothes.

These days the particular trauma in our household is due to the fact that Derry, the farm’s livestock guardian dog (day job only!) must sleep in a crate downstairs as he recovers from his knee surgery. It’s terrible. I’m well aware that I remove myself immediately from “serious farmer” company by admitting that this working dog normally sleeps in my bedroom; even more so that his absence from my bedroom has caused some not insignificant bit of insomnia. But despite the drool that inevitably gets dropped on my arm and the edge of my sheets as he wishes me a good night, despite his halitosis, despite an occasional loud snore or residual smell from something not quite digested at dinner, the room just feels empty without his big, white, fuzzy presence.

I don’t think I’m quite alone in my delight in nighttime canine company; my neighbors have told me that they had to purchase a larger bed to accomodate their three dogs, and that often they have to carefully and quietly squeeze into a tight spot between two snoring bodies, just barely able to pull the blankets up enough for cover.

Evidently this practice is all too common: according to Pawprints and Purrs, Inc:, ” The deeper the sleep the heavier the dog. Most people who sleep with dogs develop spinal deformities rather than rent the heavy equipment necessary to move their snoring canines to a more appropriate part of the bed.” I can relate. Tossing and turning is just not an option, and forget about stretching out. But there is simply nothing like a dog in your bed to make things all right: one curled up against the back of your knees, another nestled in the crook of your arm, and a cat draped across your neck. The soft pressure against you makes you feel alive, supported, if not just a little bit smelly. And let’s face it, all dogs make smells. Some dogs are gassier than others; it’s just my observation that short-haired dogs seem to emit more frequent and more noxious smells than their long-haired cousins (or perhaps the extra fur just provides a better smoke screen).

Yes, there are definitely downsides to this practice of sleeping with dogs. Bedding has to be shaken out and washed all the time, and then there are the unfortunate days when my elderly dog doesn’t quite make it out the door (or even off the bed) in time. Most unpleasant. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t utter some foul oaths, especially when these deposits are made before 6 in the morning (as far as I’m concerned anything that happens before the sun is well up in the sky is not only unwelcome but uncivilized). Yet when I travel out of town and find myself alone in a dogless, snoreless bed, I wonder about the life of austerity “the other half” is living. How do they bear it?

Once, many years ago a fussy boyfriend insisted on my purchasing a dog bed for my dog and enforcing her sleeping in it. I can’t imagine now, in my current enlightened state, ever putting up with such a demand. Can you?

Till next time,

Farmer Anne

Star Gazing Farm 501(c)3

A haven for retired farm animals and wayward goats