I write this today having spent last night getting up — no exaggeration — at least 20 times with two neurotic dogs.
I’m. Stinkin’. Tired.
I’m physically tired, and I’m just plain old tired of these creatures who we’ve somehow let run our lives. Don’t get me wrong. They’re cute and all. But they’re also shits. And right now being a shit trumps being cute.
In thinking about nights like last night, which are not nearly few and far between enough, I’ve come to realize that I experience all five stages of grief within one 6- or 7-hour night. Allow me to elaborate. (As if you have a choice…)
Stage 1: Denial
This is where Little Dog jumps down from the bed, where he’s been burrowing under the covers, and begins his whine. It starts ever so quietly and begins to build the longer I ignore it. And even though it NEVER works to ignore it, somehow every night I think, “Maybe tonight’s the night!” as I lie with my eyes closed, not moving, so as to not alert him that I am, indeed, awake.
Tonight is NEVER the night.
He keeps crying, and I keep denying, until finally I fling off my covers, get out of bed, and try to determine what it is that he wants, whether it’s water, food, or to go outside. And when the beast has had its needs satisfied, I climb back into bed and think, “Maybe that’s the only time I’ll have to get up tonight…”
Stage 2: Anger
It’s usually a good half hour at least after I’ve gotten back to sleep–you know, when you finally start getting into that deeper sleep that you need to get through the next day–that Big Dog makes his move.
He jumps off the foot of the bed, where he’s been slumbering like a 70-pound weight on my feet, and creeps over to my side of the bed. And yes it’s always MY side of the bed, never the husband’s.
I can feel him there, partly because he is literally breathing on me. He stares at me, his snout mere centimeters from my face, and waits to see if I get up.
This is when his cry begins. I can barely hear it at first, and then it rises, until it’s a high-pitched whine that I’m pretty sure only dogs SHOULD be able to hear.
When I can no longer take it, and every ounce of hope that he will settle back down is gone, I fling my covers off, much harder this time.
And then I begin to cuss.
Words begin to flow out of me, words that don’t normally flow out of me during daylight hours. Strong words. Juicy words.
Words I didn’t know I knew.
As the words are flowing out of me, it’s like I’m hearing them, but it’s not completely registering that they’re coming from me.
“Wow, someone is really bitchy,” I think.
“She needs to get more sleep.”
Stage 3: Bargaining
This time, it’s right after I’ve lain back down from Big Dog’s 10-minute pee party that Little Dog decides I have not satisfied all of his needs.
Again, he starts to cry.
Right now, you may be asking yourself, “Why in the name of all that’s holy doesn’t she put the dogs in a kennel at night?” And to that I answer, “If only it were that easy.”
You see, we have been blessed with not one but two dogs with separation anxiety, dogs who aren’t like normal dogs who see their crates as their safe haven. Nope. My dogs see their crates as their prisons. We’ve tried every make and model, every trick and technique. Every one of them ends with Little Dog foaming at the mouth and moving his crate all the way across the kitchen while he is INSIDE IT, and Big Dog somehow breaking out of both the plastic and wire crates.
This time, when I hear Little Dog crying, I try pleading with him. “Pleeeeeease go to sleep! I promise if you just go back to sleep I will let you eat hot dogs for supper all week! Heck, I’ll let you just eat out of the garbage! If I just don’t have to get out of bed again, I will give you a million trillion dollars. Pleeeeeeease?”
As you might imagine, the bargaining does not work.
And I’m up. Again.
Stage 4: Depression
After maybe an hour of real, actual sleep, I once again detect a weight lifted from the foot of the bed. A weight with wiry hair and bad breath.
This time, however, Big Dog does not wake me up by touching his cold, wet nose to mine. This time, he has heard something outside. It could be another dog barking. It could be a car door slamming. It could be, really, anything at all. It doesn’t matter. He is ON IT.
BARKING AND BARKING AND BARKING AND BARKING AND BARKING AND BARKING AND BARKING!
Replacing our living room carpet with laminate flooring this summer made a world of difference when it comes to cleaning up dog messes, but it also created an incredible echo that sounds about 10,000 decibels louder in the middle of a still night.
MORE BARKING AND MORE BARKING AND MORE BARKING AND MORE BARKING AND MORE BARKING!
This is where I start to despair. What is wrong with us? Why do we have the most out-of-control dogs ever? How do we let our dogs rule the roost? What is WRONG with them? What is WRONG with us?
I will NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. I am going to be tired for the rest. of. my. LIFE.
And just when I have concluded that there is no hope for a long and happy life and that everything that is wrong in the world is somehow connected to this moment in time and the fact that my dog is being a jerk, Big Dog quits barking and jumps back up on the bed.
Stage 5: Acceptance
When Big Dog jumps back up onto the bed, this wakes up Little Dog. Why he didn’t wake up when Big Dog was barking his lungs out, I don’t know. Regardless of the reason, he is now fully awake.
And he decides he’s thirsty.
This is the point where I accept the fact that no matter how much I ignore him, he will not stop crying until I get up and get him water. I know he’s not going to die of thirst and I’m just reinforcing the behavior by giving him what he wants, but I have only 30 minutes left until my alarm goes off, and I realize the sooner I give him what he wants, the sooner I can crawl back in bed.
When I get back to the bed, Big Dog has taken my covers and is now lying on my side of the bed instead of where my feet go. I just push him as hard as I can, which moves him over exactly .3 inches, and I lie on the edge of my mattress and cover one-eighth of my body with the little bit of sheet that I manage to wrestle away.
And I sigh, close my eyes, and awaken to my alarm in what seems to be 27 seconds later.
I’m still not sure why I’m the only one who hears the dogs in the night. I think it’s like when the boys were babies and I seemed to wake up to their fussiness and cries way more than my husband. And with the dogs, I figure I wake up anyway, so I might as well just be the one to stay up and take care of them instead of making two of us be awake. But this morning I told the husband that we’re going to have to revert back to our baby-raising years and take turns getting up in the night. It’s getting to be too much, and I’m getting to be too old.
As I write this, both dogs are sleeping on the bed beside me. Weird, it’s like they’re tired or something. Almost as if they didn’t get enough sleep last night…
And I’m sure the cycle begins again tonight.