Some background: both Belgians sleep loose in the house at night. They each have a bed in our bedroom. Phoenix’s bed is not to be messed with, as demonstrated in “That’s My Spot” (Jan. 18, 2013).
Last fall when Jamie had the first of two vestibular episodes, I started crating him at night. It was for his own safety as well as the Farmer’s and my sanity. Left to his own devices, Jamie would lurch around the house in the dark, crashing into various pieces of furniture and making annoyed noises that they had gotten in his way.
I started him out in a metal crate in our bedroom but his nocturnal perambulations, although restricted, continued, and he happily crashed around in the crate until exhausted, he finally tipped over and went to sleep. Do you have any idea how much noise a 55-pound dog can make crashing around in a metal crate? Then I tried putting him in an x-pen, thinking that would give him more room in which to be comfortable and hopefully result in less crashing.
Wrong. It gave him more room to work up momentum to crash off the sides of the pen.
Finally we reached a communal state of peace involving a soft-side crate. And there he slept for the next seven months.
Which brought us to May.
Do you know what happens in May? The nights start getting markedly shorter. The sun starts coming up markedly earlier. The only one interested in this phenomenon is Jamie. Earlier sunrise means one can eat one’s breakfast earlier. Jamie was happy to remind me of this. He started reminding me at about 4:30, just on the off-chance I would like to do something about it. Since he was crated, he squeaked and snorted and grumbled. Loudly. And continually.
Jamie has always been incorrigible when it comes to the concept of “Shut. Up. We. Are. Not. Getting. Up.” Now that he can’t hear anything, he’s even incorrigibler. (Yes. That’s a word. I printed it, didn’t I?)
So I decided rather than fighting a losing battle, Jamie could go sleep in the living room at night. Then he could get up when he damn well pleased. He was well past the bouncing-off-the-furniture stage of the vestibular issue by now and had recovered almost 100 percent.
I baby-gated him in the living room. The next morning, as the dawn started to lighten the eastern horizon, Jamie began squeaking. Happily. Loudly. Extra loudly since his intended audience was sleeping two rooms away. Phoenix joined the act as a go-between, racing from the living room through the dining room, into the bedroom and back like some kind of deranged messenger with a one-word message: BREAKFAST!
Jamie takes his meals seriously. Age 13 years and 10 months, I guess he’s entitled.
So I went back to letting Jamie sleep loose anywhere in the house he wanted to sleep - no crates, no x-pens, no baby gates.
The first night, I woke up in the middle of the night with Phoenix wedged firmly between me and the Farmer. (For those of you with smaller dogs, this is like sleeping with a big, warm, immobile sandbag.)
I looked over the edge of the bed.
Apparently where Jamie wanted to sleep was in Phoenix’s bed.
So with another gigantic leap of Malin-logic, Phoenix had shifted himself into our bed. I mean really. If the Big Red Dog took his bed, where else was the poor Skinny Li’l Dog going to sleep?
I rooted Phoenix off our bed, rousted Jamie out of Phoenix’s bed, told Phoenix to go lie down on his bed (he did), told Jamie to go lie down on his bed (he did) and crawled back into my dog-free bed. And we all lived happily ever after.
Until the Farmer got into the field for the spring planting season.
If you live in the Midwest, you’ll know corn and soybean planting season enjoyed a window of about 72 hours this spring. I’m not kidding. Drenching rain and cold temps kept the Farmer out of the field and when he finally planted the first kernels of corn in mid-May, it was about three weeks past the date he would have normally finished putting this year’s crop in the ground.
He and his brother planted over 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans in six days. To say they were running day and night was not an exaggeration. Most nights when I went to bed, Phoenix curled up next to me in the Farmer’s spot and went to sleep, allegedly to voluntarily exit the spot when its rightful owner came in hours later.
Only it didn’t always work that way. Most of the time I woke up when the Farmer was struggling to evict Phoenix, who was squinting his eyes and thumping his tail and growling happily and absolutely refusing to move. The Farmer has never mastered the act of chucking Phoenix off the bed when it becomes apparent he has no intention of relinquishing his spot without encouragement.
Sometimes, I woke up hours later to find the Farmer sleeping precariously on the edge of the bed with Phoenix wedged happily in between us, looking like the cat who ate the canary.
One morning, I woke to find Phoenix sprawled contentedly next to me and no Farmer in sight. He was in the living room, sleeping on the couch.
“I came in late didn’t want to wake you,” he explained.
Um. Yeah. More like you couldn’t wake me and you couldn’t get Phoenix off the bed. But I didn’t say it. After being married for 22 years, I have learned when to keep my mouth shut.