Jane: I'm embarrassed to write this post. But I have something to confess: Boomer no longer sleeps on our bed.
I know, I know, I chatted up the virtues of nocturnal canine companionship in a previous post, “Love Wrapped in Fur." After sleeping on it, I still believe there's nothing as comforting as the sweet warmth and rhythmic breathing of a dog on your bed, lying next to you when you're headachy or mopey or totally stressed by life.
But notice I didn't include the word insomnia in that list. And recently The WoofGang has been dealing with some serious sleep deprivation. We've been edgy. We've been grumpy. We've even been nodding off during the daytime. So a few weeks ago I decided to seek a “sleep solution” that involved relocating Boomer, since Daisy hasn't learned to jump up on the bed yet.
Boomer's just like a classic first-born child: He's eager to please and usually compliant. But he's also, uh, quirky. For instance, Boomer loathes getting his ears cleaned; at the slightest glimpse of a cotton ball or the faintest whiff of ear-cleaning solution, he slinks to the farthest corner of the uppermost room in our home, hoping that once he's out of sight, the ear-cleaning procedure is out of mind. His behavior is predictable and therefore can be used against him.
I decided to play this predictability to our advantage. So one evening, as Boomer eyed our bed longingly, I suddenly pulled out a bag of cotton balls I'd hidden behind my pillow and waved it in front of him, taunting, “Watch it, Mister! See what I have? I have cotton balls!”
Boomer must have been shocked (or was it awed?) by this blatant show of fluffy-white force. He stopped in his tracks, turned around, and fled the room. Great! I thought. My experiment is working! As added insurance, I laid the plastic bag across the foot of the bed to keep our 80-pound dog from pouncing on it during the night.
My approach worked like a charm. Ah, the bliss of an entire night of uninterrupted sleep!
But the next morning, where was Boomer? Not only hadn't he jumped onto our bed, but he hadn't even re-entered our bedroom! My conscience began to bother me. I worried, Have I messed with Boomer's mind too much? After about Night Two of Boomer going AWOL, we began sweetly entreating him to cross the threshold--only to watch him turn right around and head downstairs for the night.
Bribing Boomer with treats failed--a serious sign if there ever was one. I suppose Boomer was certain those cotton balls lurked somewhere within ear-cleaning distance and he didn't want to risk it. Finally, around Night Four of this strange stand-off, Rich leashed Boomer and gently yet insistently led him upstairs into our bedroom and closed the door. Boomer went nowhere near our bed. He slept safely out of our reach on the cool comfort of our master bathroom's tiles.
It took Boomer several more nights to get over this dust-up (or should I say "fluff-up"?). Eventually The Quirkster decided that cotton balls no longer menaced him from the bed, and that we really weren't plotting to clean his ears while he slept. He relaxed--enough to sleep on the floor next to Rich's side of the bed every night since.
Call us quirky, but now that we know Boomer's no longer traumatized, we're enjoying this new status quo. And we've decided we'd like to maintain it: Dogs off the bed, people on the bed, both species sleeping peacefully. What a novel idea! I just hope I never have to bring out the big guns--the cotton balls--ever again.