Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dominance, schnominance

Before I married my husband 23 years ago, I slept with my dog. Molly would start the night in her bed, and I'd be in mine. But invariably, I'd wake up in the middle of the night to find my little 25-pound mixed poodle snuggled up beside me. Just as invariably, I'd smile and go back to sleep.

Flash forward a few years, to when I did marry Stan. He loved Molly, and she returned his affection. Most times we were a happy threesome, but Stan drew the line at bedtime. He did not want Molly in bed with us. I understood--after all, it was his bed, too. Fortunately, teaching Molly to stay in her own bed wasn't a problem, nor was it a problem with either Cory the Sheltie or the Divine Miss Allie, the two dogs we've had since Molly went to the Rainbow Bridge.

But today I read this post by my good friend and colleague Roxanne Hawn, and felt a twinge of envy. And while Allie has always been very good about not attempting to share Stan's and my bed, I know she'd love to be offered an invitation to do so. How do I know? Because years ago, when she and I vacationed at Camp Gone to the Dogs, Allie made it abundantly clear from the get-go that she would not be relegated to a crate or even a bed on the floor. The very first night we were there, she hopped up onto the college-dorm sized bed with me. There she stayed, and we were both blissfully content.

Yes, I love my husband. If he were not here, I would profoundly miss his presence in our bed and everyplace else. But every now and then, like today, I miss having a canine presence in my bed, too.

And to those who say that dogs don't belong in people's beds because it will give them delusions of dominance over those people, I say dominance, schnominance. There are some circumstances in which human-canine co-sleeping might not be a good idea: if the dog isn't housetrained, is a resource guarder (the bed could be a resource), or is a teeny-tiny thing that would be crushed if you rolled over. But for other canines and their people, I say let them sleep together.


Magatha said...

I don't have dogs of my own, but I dog-sit a lot, and I adore it when I get permission from the people for the dog(s) to sleep with me.

And it's funny about "special occasions": there's one Cavalier King Charles dog I walk whose actual preferred sleeping arrangements are to be tucked away in his crate in the garage (it's warm). He will go to the door at bed time to be escorted out, thank you very much. But when the family goes to Tahoe, he assumes that he will sleep in the family bed, and he does, and everyone's happy.

I was talking with another guy who has a beloved pit bull named Maggie. She's not allowed to spend the night in his bed, but house rules are that at dawn, she comes to his side of the bed, sits on the floor staring at him, patiently waiting for him to wake up. When he does, he says good morning, she waits...and then he throws the covers back and she leaps up onto his bead, and snuggles under the covers for 20 minutes or so. I suspect that Maggie enjoys that ritual more than she'd enjoy spending the whole night on the bed.

Susan said...

It's amazing how dogs pick up on the subtlest of human cues, isn't it? Not to mention invent routines and rituals of their own.