We have Doggie Drama. This is not new drama, but old drama, repackaged and recycled and replayed. Because it is cold and Sam is so old, I put him on the bed, and I do have to lift him to get him on the bed, and Sam is a Happy Hound because he’s on the bed and he was the first one on the bed. But I have to put Sam on the bed first because if I put him on the bed after Lucas then Sam will snarl at Lucas and Lilith won’t get on the bed, until everyone is asleep, and if Lilith gets on the bed after everyone is asleep then Sam gets really upset and Lucas wants to go over and play peacekeeper, which makes things worse, by far.
I could and have called Lilith up on the bed first but when I do that Lucas really gets bent out of shape. She likes to sleep near me, which is Lucas’ spot and rather just find an area to sleep on both of them try to sleep on top of my head. You see why this won’t work don’t you?
So, I get Sam on the bed but he decides to plop down where my legs are supposed to go so I have to shift over. Now, Lilith would fit very well to where I just shift from, but Lucas has to land first and he gets as close to me as possible. Lilith steadfastly refuses to join us. I know she’ll wait until the lights are out and we’re asleep so I pick her up. Whoa! Lilith! That’s some solid mass of a girl dog! But she allows the lifting and when I put her on the bed, Sam snarls at her.
So, there’s Sam, on the lower left side of the bed, forcing me towards the center. Lucas is on the upper right, near my chest and he takes up as much room as I do. So Lilith Warrior Girl decides that frail and elderly Sam is too much to deal with; she plants between Lucas and the head of the bed, near my head, which makes Lucas squirm and twist trying to get closer to me than she is at the moment.
But this is doable. Everyone, well, everyone except me, is very comfortable. I have this odd thought, that it’s possible just to chase them all off the bed and try to rearrange them all, but they look so innocent and peaceful in their sleep, don’t they? Lucas, whose head is inches from my face, but consider the alternatives, there are worse part of the canine anatomy to have aimed at my nose, is snoring already. Lilith Girl Dog is sound asleep as well, contorted to fit the Gerrymandered spot she has claimed, but also strategically placed to share body heat with Lucas. Sam is alone but warm. His body rests against my legs and for a few moments Sam puts his chin on my shin. He won’t sleep with is head there but his is his way of connecting with me, to let me know he likes being on the bed when it’s cold, even if being above the floor freaks him out a little these days. Sam’s world is a dimly lit thing, full of fast moving and confusing images and sounds half heard. But at this moment, on the bed on a cold night, right before Sam drifts off to sleep, he is warm and Sam is a happy being. I can sleep with that thought.
At some point in the night Lucas stands up, licks my face, snuffles me in the ear, turns around three times, and drops as if he was just turned to stone by the angry sleep gods. Lilith gets up, paws at the covers, making a nest, and she too comes over to check my pulse, and then she touches down lightly. Sam wakes up and snarls at them both.
My sleep comes and goes. The dreams are short lived creatures who are forgotten as soon as they are born. Sam’s dreams are haunted and his legs kick and move during the night. Lilith’s sleep is punctuated by short high barks at times and her legs jerk in rhythm of some unknown beat that only she hears in her sleep. I reach out and my hand finds her side. Lilith breathes deeply and sighs. Almost immediately she returns to a deep sleep but at peace it now. Lucas raises his head for a second, maybe two, and then he snores again within the minute. Sam sleeps without dreams. My pack is at peace.
I drift off and slumber too. Then I hear the sound of a puppy in distress, a lost puppy, a little dog right outside of my window and I awake with a start. I can still hear the sound of the puppy’s cries and I almost get up. But The Three rest easy and as I lie in bed and listen I realize that there is no puppy outside, or at least, not outside my window. Somewhere out there this cold morning, there is a puppy locked out into the cold, bereft of his family and any understanding of why he is alone and isolated. This will be his life until they grow tired of him and discard him or he learns to be silent about his lot in life. There will be a few, a very few moments of attention each day but so many dogs are sentenced to life without parole, in solitary confinement.
Lucas knows I am awake and I sometimes think he can read the clock. It’s close enough to time to get up that he thinks he can provoke the awakening of the pack. He stands up, shakes hard, flapping his ears, and Sam moves off the bed and comes to poke me in the face with his nose. Lilith crawls towards me from a few inches away and Lucas, having jumped down off them bed to push Sam away, now puts his front paws on the edge to nose Lilith away from my attention.
I have managed to save but three of many of thousands. But each of these three were discarded, abandoned, and cast adrift in a world that holds very little hope for happy endings. These are my three, these are my pack, my family, and as long as I live there will be dogs whose lives are lived like this, and my life will be lived like this as well.