Letting The Sleeping Dogs Lie

Mark Twain is quoted in a book titled “Mark Twain, a biography” written by Albert Bigelow Paine as having said that:

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Anyone who has ever had a dog would surely agree with Twain’s assertion; there is a place on the other side of the Pearly Gates especially reserved for these fine specimens of God’s creation. Any that might disagree is clearly suffering from one of two maladies; you have never had a dog, or you never had a good dog. If it’s the former, well, more’s the pity.

Speaking for myself, I’ve always had dogs in my life… of every size, shape, manner, and form… and I cannot imagine any life scenario where I am without a dog by my side: it’s just who I am. And, according to the ASPCA “[a]pproximately 37-47% of all households in the United States have a dog” which tells me that there are a whole lot of kindred spirits out there who know exactly what I’m talking about.

Why do I think you should care about these little factoids? Well… I’m glad you asked because it was after reading an article I came across the other day, while absent-mindedly surfing my Flip board account, that painted a hilarious and pathetically true picture of the bloody lot of us who have been given permission by their dogs to share a small bit of the living space they manage and control.

I was reminded of my years living the English mastiff life-having had as many as seven living with me at the at one point-and rushing back came all of the memories my guys gave me to relish for the rest of my days. The last of them is gone now, may she rest in peace, but I will never forget my life with them as, essentially, a ranking member of a frat house community where it was not only normal but expected that there be eye-watering, nose burning gaseous emissions at all hours of the day or night… a chorus of snoring that never seemed to end… and a love of howling at the moon for no other reason than it being the shiniest thing in their visual field. There were fights, to be sure, but watching them each night curl up into 1400 pound ball of intertwined canine laying about my bedroom floor (with the occasional sneak thinking it might be possible to climb up in between my wife and I (as if the word “sneak” would even be possible in the same sentence with the words “English Mastiff”) in hopes of finding some respite, no matter how brief, from the snoring and gaseous stench emanating from the rest of the pack.

The casual observer would think me daft for suggesting that I miss any of that but, then again, there’s nothing casual about a life of chewed heirlooms and drool-drenched clothes.

I’m reminded of the night two of my 200+ pound males were bitten by a copperhead. Grown human adults would be hospitalized, or at the very least kept in the hospital for observation for a good number of hours. Not so for these guys… sicker than I can even put in words? Yes. Flatulence that could peel wallpaper, and diarrhea & vomiting too grotesque to describe here? Absolutely. The whole experience consumed our lives for 72 hours but we never gave it a second thoughtt; our babies were sick and they needed us…just as we needed them… and we were there for them like they were always there for us-guarding our property and keeping our grandchildren out of harms way with never a selfish thought for themselves. We were a family, and we took care of each other and that’s just the way it is supposed to be.

Perhaps my favorite passage from the entire article (although, believe me… it was hard to decide) sums up nicely for me what a canine co-life is all about (and to what lengths we dog owners are willing to go to be with our “canine children”) goes like this:

“Roxy and Scout are small as Labs go, but their lust for a good night’s sleep is outsized, and they don’t mind colonizing a disproportionately large swath of our bed to get it. The fact that it’s a king bed—I believe it to be the largest bed a civilian may legally buy—doesn’t alter the equation in the least. If you were to watch a time-lapse of a night in our bedroom what you would see is Roxy and Scout sprawled peacefully across the vast middle of our enormous bed, the area that would correspond to the Midwest on a map of the United States, while my wife Jennifer clings precariously to the Atlantic seaboard and I try to avoid plummeting into the Pacific.”

As I wipe the tears of laughter from my face – even now, as I’m writing this entry – I am keenly aware of the fact that roughly half of the households in this country are experiencing the same fate tonight… and I can’t help but wonder how is that so many of us came to allow our dogs to domesticate us this way. I don’t get very far in my thoughts however because I’m interrupted by my Newfie cross (who I’ve woken up from a sound sleep because of my laughter) trying to figure out why I’m hogging all the blankets, and wanting to know just exactly when I’m going to turn the light off so she can go back to sleep.


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