Dave and Jack are camping with the Scouts this weekend. But it's been anything but dull for Kate and me. And I had not one, but three bed buddies with me last night.
Some dog owners keep their pets in the yard. Some dog owners let their pooches sleep in crates or little soft beds in their room. And then there is our family, whose canine family members take turns cuddling like spoons next to us on cold nights.
Actually, two of our trio of dogs seem to know their place. Sean Connery only occasionally dares to jump up on our bed. And little cold-natured Charlie's nightly ritual is to adhere himself to my shins, providing me my own soothing, soft furry hot water bottle of sorts.
But alpha bitch Allie, the queen of border collies, The Entitled One, does not believe for one second that she is merely a dog. She is obsessed with luxuriating in our beds. If I don't close our bedroom doors during the day, she will pull back the comforters with her teeth and unmake each bed, climbing underneath the covers and dozing, her silky black and whi†e head on the pillow.
People who love dogs don't think like rational people. It's hard to resist Allie's abundant charm. Last night was cold and lonely, so even Sean joined the party. My bed looked like a canine version of the Sound of Music where all the various sizes of von Trapp children run to Maria's room during a storm. I could have easily forgotten that snuggling Allie was even a dog were it not for being steamed awake by the heated puffing of what we call her "rotting corpse breath."
There is never any true sleeping in for me, as the matriarchal unit of this den and morning feeder. The dog gang is solar activated, so at precisely 6am, when the tiniest sliver of light starts to peek through the windows, the begging for breakfast begins.
Sean is the whining child of the bunch. He positions himself beside the alarm clock and starts whimpering softly, then progressively louder, like a snooze alarm. Allie is much less subtle, standing over my head and poking her front paw first on my shoulder and finally in my eye socket until I'm fully awake. She starts with a stage whisper woof, emitting just a little latrine breath from her puffy cheeks, and works toward a full fledged bark if I don't get moving.
But first, a trip outside. I am not a morning person, so this involves me trying not to be seen in the growing light, because I'm usually wearing either pajama top or bottom with one of David's army jackets, and whatever footwear happens to be lying nearest the back door, most often the heeled mules I wore to work the day before. Since I'm not fully awake, I don't care terribly much.
Then the feeding. This part kind of pisses me off. I can't even go back to bed while they all eat. I have to maintain a lifeguard's perch near little Charlie or the other two bullies will take his kibble and his lunch money. Then morning recreation, involving some more semi-supervised outside time.
If I'm dressed enough to go to the front yard to get the newspaper, my little pack of wolves will sometimes accompany me. I know, I know — something as smart as a Border Collie should be bright and hardworking enough to go fetch my paper. But a few years ago they mistook the phrase "paper" for "Squirrel in the tree!" and I don't know how to fix this. And it's so funny to watch them run hopefully to the tree when I say "paper."
Who's the boss here? I know it's not me. But the dogs and I have an arrangement.
"You need to watch "The Dog Worshipper," my mom tells me. "Then you could get them to do anything you wanted." Mom is the biggest malapropism user and television watcher I've ever known.
"Mom, I am
the dog worshipper. I think you mean "whisperer."
I have to go now. Someone is telling me they need to go outside.