Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tightening up with our dogs during the pandemic

I recall vaguely that some people in the far north, perhaps Eskimos, described the coldness of the night in terms of dogs.  If it was a three or four dog night; that meant it was really cold.  Getting by with one or two dogs was more tolerable.  It has been cold outside here, below freezing most mornings, but up in my study it is warm enough, sleeping in my lounge chair, covered by whatever blankets I feel comfortable with.  But Jessica, my Irish Terrier, has her own opinion about that.  Perhaps it has some relationship to the coldness outside, but she has been determined to sleep on top of me at night.  She was getting me trained in that respect in the recent past, but when I hurt my shoulder, it was not tolerable for me, and she had to leave me alone.

But my shoulder is a lot better.  Last night was typical.  My term for telling her I intended to get to sleep is “nap.”  “I’m going to take a nap, now Jessica; so, don’t get in my lounge chair.”  She warned me she had a plan by ignoring my words and getting in my lounge chair anyway.  When I was ready to go to sleep, I tipped the lounge chair up gently and slid her out onto the floor.  She watched me settle in and then pawed my arm indicating she wanted to get into my lap.  I said, “okay,” and reached for her, but she wanted to play hard to get, moving away when I reached for her.  At last, I said in annoyance, “Go away, I’m going to sleep”, but just as I began to doze off, she raked my right arm with her nails.  “Go away,” I said again, and tried to get back to sleep.  After a few iterations of this, I was no longer sleepy; so, I turned the light on and read on my Kindle for a while, Ignoring Jessica’s unhappiness with me.  

As soon as I was sleepy again, I put my Kindle away and the next time she messed with me, I jackknifed forward, grabbed her forward legs up close to her chest and pulled her up on top of my stomach; which was her goal all along; so, at last she was ready to go to sleep for the night.  This isn’t to say there wasn’t a lot of shifting about on both our parts.  My ribcage in the area most associated with my left shoulder, while not as sore as it has been, will complain if Jessica is lying on it for too long.  Also, Jessica prefers spending a lot of time parallel to my left leg with her head toward my feet, which is okay because it is my right leg that has the damaged knee cap.  And so, we sleep.

Waking up this morning, some of my joints and other structure felt a bit uncomfortable, but after loosening up with some dumbbells I felt okay.  I don’t have the usual morning headache and in retrospect I enjoyed Jessica sleeping on top of me.  When she was young and squirmy, she didn’t like being a lapdog, but now, when she’s in the mood (or perhaps shortly after she’s been trimmed and its cold outside) she does.  So perhaps it is a coincidence, but when the temperature drops down near freezing outside, I am having one-dog nights.

But as our sleeping arrangements are getting sorted, I wondered about the introduction of a Ben-like Ridgeback.  What would he be wanting to do while Jessica was annoying me by playing hard to get when all I want to do is sleep, with or without her sleeping on me?   And, if he got to close would Jessica wake me up with a growl or a bark?  Of course, he would get used to that eventually, and steer-clear if he could, but he would have to walk by the lounge chair to get to the water dishes.  

In the past this was less of a problem inasmuch as I spent most nights sleeping on the floor, but I’m creakier than I used to be and wouldn’t be able to sleep on my left shoulder at all.  The lounge chair is fine.  My shoulder and I have gotten used to it.

Now, with this hiding out because of the pandemic, not being able to get back into hiking quite yet because of medication changes and weather, Jessica, Duffy, my Schnoodle, and I have been living in a closer relationship than in the past.  I thought they might feel a bit of cabin fever being restricted to the house and yard most days, but not so.  They like it fine.  I have been more attentive to what they want and need, and they like that more than fine.   

So, what would happen if we added a Ridgeback to our mix?  I looked over at Jessica just now and she is lying on a blanket in morning sunlight watching me.  I wouldn’t be the only person to look at (Duffy does a lot of sleeping, and Jessica ignores him most of the time) if we had a Ridgeback.  

And no matter how fixed our situation is now, it would be just as fixed, albeit arranged differently if Ben, our last Ridgeback, were still alive.  Ben was easier to live with than Jessica has been.  Then too, if the weather stays cool at night, and my shoulder heals a bit more, perhaps I can sleep on the floor again, from time to time, and if there were a Ridgeback to keep us company, I could have a three-dog night if I needed one.


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