a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Bedtime

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Bedtime is a ritualized thing.

First I remove the doggie door from the sliding door (so that I can lock up) and tell the dogs "Time for the last hurry-up," hurry-up being the keyword for pee. And I've been adding the "bedtime!" keyword to distinguish it from just ordinary every-day hurry-up, so that when we're in a strange location, both "time for the last hurry-up" and "bedtime" can give the dogs a strong signal that if they don't do it now, they're going to be holding it for a long time.

This has turned into Tika's signal to get up from whereever she's been snoozing, run out to the far side yard where I can't see her or get to her easily, and start barking furiously. If I had *wanted* to train that behavior, I'd have never figured out how to do it. I'm not quite sure how I did it even so. But there you have it.

Jake often goes out to establish his place on the side of a shrub or, more likely, a piece of agility equipment. Sigh. But more often, he walks to the open sliding door, sticks his nose out, stands there while I hold the door open, and ponders whether it smells like a good time to go out and pee, then waits for me to point out that if he doesn't have to go, he should come back in so I can close the door.

Boost is pretty good (now) about going out, doing what she needs to do, and coming back in. At least I have *one* normal dog. (Now.)

Then I yell at Tika for bothering the neighbors by making all that noise and she comes back around into the house and trots inside.

Diredogs waiting for their mommy to come upstairs to bed. Mommy cursing the cruddy cheap digital camera.
Then they all gather at the stairs while I lock the doors and turn off the lights. When I approach, Tika usually goes up first. Boost usually hangs out near the bottom and watches Jake to see what he's going to do. If she thinks he's not going to notice, she'll follow Tika upstairs, but more often, she waits for him to go first.

Then I follow the lot of them, all draggy, wondering how they have so much energy as to spring up the stairs at this time of night. Sure, they've got 4 legs each instead of two, and the Merle Girls collectively aren't even half my age in dog years, but still. It's late. They might all have been taking a nice nap starting around 9 or 9:30ish, in preparation for a hard night's sleep.

Boost sleeps in a crate in my bedroom. She goes right in there automatically when we all trundle upstairs to bed, and I usually give her a treatie and then I zip up the door. (Well--I zip down, over, and up the door. Why is it that we "zip up" something to close it but don't "zip down" it to open it? A future topic for Word Whirled.)

Tika sleeps at the foot of the left side of the bed. Except that when we first come upstairs, she usually leaps onto my side of the bed, quickly finds a spot right dab smack in the middle of the area that my body is supposed to occupy, and curls up quickly so as to establish her working position. But she watches me with her head slightly up and her ears slightly back, as if to say, "You're not REALLY going to make me move from this lovely spot, I got here first you know, and I'm SUCH an abused dog and I'll probably FREEZE to death if I can't sleep on your down comforter."

If Tika accidentally ends up curling up on her corner of the bed instead, then Jake is right in there on my side of the bed, doing his bed-excavation thing. I've given him a nice large plush cushy glob of fabric in his spot, which is the head of the left side of the bed, but excavating and rearranging that apparently doesn't give as much satisfaction as really shoving his head down into my comforter so as to balance himself so he can dig at it enthusiastically with both front feet. He makes cheerful, industrious noises and snorks as he works at it, then finally stands up to see where I am, wags his tail, pants, waits for me to admire his handiwork, then plunges into it for a nice lie-down.

Occupancy, dog's side of bed: 0. Occupancy, Mom's side of bed: 2.
Sometimes they both manage to end up on my side of the bed. Lately Jake has gotten good at pretending that he is so sound asleep and/or so deaf that he can't even feel me shoving at him and shaking him to get him to move to his side of the bed. But he does, eventually, move, because I insist on it. Tika tries rolling over to expose her soft, white underbelly for a rub because she knows I can't resist. So I give her a rub (yes, I do), and then she moves because I insist on it. It took a while to get there--I remember many many nights the first few months--or even longer--when I had to physically drag her from her chosen spot to her assigned location, before she understood that I always followed through when I told her to "move". Sometimes now I have to escalate to "move your butt!" but it's been a long time since I've had to actually move her.

The other night, dark of the middle of the wee hours, 3:30 in the morning, there was some gentle restlessness on Jake's part of the bed, enough to rouse me from my slumber. It kept up, a little moving around on the bed in a way unlike Jake's normal mid-night motions, which often involve standing up, turning around one, or two, or 18 times, then lying down again with a grunt. And then a little dog nose stuck itself cautiously and curiously into my face and I realized that Boostie was on the bed, wondering what was going on and what she should do about it.

Boostie goes right into her crate like a good sweet little puppy girlie.
I popped on the light to see what was the matter--sure enough, the zipper door was still flipped up on top of the Booster's crate and I had neglected to ever close it. So she had gone about 5 hours before discovering that her door was open and deciding to do something about it. I don't know how she knew that Jake had moved down towards Tika's end of the bed and Tika had moved over towards my side of the bed, so Jake's whole area was free and clear for occupancy. Glad I wasn't woken by Mr. Grumpy Pants spatting and snarling all over a shrieking puppy.

I looked at the time, moaned miserably, turned off the light, and muttered some sort of command at the Puppy like "oh, god, it's 3:30 in the morning, lie down and go to sleep." And she did, and I did, and we all lived happily ever after until the *real* morning when I woke up in daylight, when I remembered one reason why having only 2 dogs on the bed is good: Only 2 hands with which to meet and greet snuggly dogs.

That night Boost went just as happily into her crate as she usually does. I zipped it up. And I chased Tika and Jake off my down comforter and everything was as it should be.

1 comment:

  1. so- I'm sitting here reading the description, and wondering how accurate it would still be for me if I replaced the words "dog" or "dogs names" with the word "husband" or "husbands name".....