Commentary: Yes, I Sleep With My Dog

By Linda Nusbaum

I guess I planned it. I knew the first moment I placed puppy Simon in the bed with me, it would become a lifelong habit. I was weak. I couldn’t say no to his darling face. His little dachshund body was so tiny, I could hold all of him in one palm, so small and cute, cute, cute.
It happened on our first night together in my apartment 13 years ago. I hadn’t even planned on getting a dog. I always knew when the time was right I would get one and it would be the same kind, color and gender. But at this time in my life a dog was the last thing I needed.
So what does the ex-boyfriend do in a gesture to win me back? Yep, he buys me the dog and hands him to me with a bow on his head. I fall in love with the dog. The ex-boyfriend, that’s another story.
So back to that first night. I’m alone in my apartment and it’s just this tiny animal and me. I haven’t trained a dog since being a child and I can’t remember what to do anyway. I put paper down and prepare to turn in for the night. I hear him scamper around under the bed. I feel unsettled with all that scurrying going on down there. I reach under the bed and pull him out. I am not sure what to do next. I’m lying on my back and holding him in front of my face with both arms outstretched. I examine his quizzical look and wonder about this strange creature becoming part of my life.
I knew letting a dog sleep in the bed would mean a lifetime of the dog sleeping in the bed. My childhood dog, another red dachshund that looked just like Simon, always slept with us. My brother and I would argue nightly over who got to sleep with him. I’d have hold of half of his body; Ed would be pulling on the other half. We’d be arguing and Mom would have to solve it. Every night of his life, Dashy, (the dog’s name), always slept peaceful and warm right next to a human.
So as I look at the sweet face of my new best friend and memories of the dog in the bed start flooding my mind, these next words flow out of my mouth, and they didn’t come from my brain, maybe they came from my heart, and I say to him, “Well it’s just you and me now, so get in the bed.”
And with those words I lift up the cover and place his little body next to mine. And that’s the way it was for a long time, until I met my husband. Bennett didn’t grow up sleeping with dogs. It felt dirty to him. He especially didn’t want Simon’s rear end near his pillow.
And even though Simon is a borougher, preferring to go under the covers, Bennett still felt uncomfortable. That made me uncomfortable.
So I bought a dog bed– a cute, fluffy one. I got a fuzzy blanket and introduced Simon to his new sleeping quarters. I placed his bed a few feet from our bed. I’d tuck in the dog and say good night. We’d turn off the lights and after about five minutes I would feel him against our bed, propping himself up on my side. I’d look over and see his little paws and cute head sticking up. He is my little, baby dog. I’d feel so bad. I would say, “Go back to bed.” Bennett would chide me because I couldn’t say it like I meant it. Simon would walk away and come back. This would repeat itself until I relented and would lift up the covers, pat the bed and Simon would jump up and borough down to my feet.
Soon the dog bed got moved to the closet area and became a shoe holder. Anyone need an almost new dog bed? The dog now sleeps with me every night. I put my body in between Simon and Bennett. This seems to work out for everyone. It’s our routine. I look forward to it, all three of us, together in bed.
Sometimes when I take a nap, I will pick up Simon from where he is sleeping and carry him to bed with me. I always sleep better when he’s under the covers too.
One recent evening Bennett was snoring too loud. I decided to move to the downstairs couch. Leaving Bennett and Simon I grabbed my pillow and curled up on the couch under heavy blankets. I slept pretty soundly until I felt a lump jump on top of me. Simon was standing on my chest with this wild look on his face as if to say, “Hey, where have you been?” and “”Look at me, I found you!”
I lifted up the blankets; he crawled in and snuggled next to my legs. We slept until morning. It was a better sleep, the best sleep. He is my true sleep mate. He is my friend. Yeah.

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