Dora has always been a phenomenal sleeper. Whenever the “sleepies” come she channels her inner cat and finds a place where she can fit, sit and settle herself down for a long winter’s nap – even if it’s the middle of summer. Time stops when Dora desires a snooze – and that includes anything of importance that you may be doing.
From the moment I brought her home I knew Dora was going to be a force to be reckoned with when it came to sleeping. Like many new fur-moms, I read numerous “what to expect” books on puppy hood. One message that stood out was: “don’t let your dog sleep in the bed with you.” Great, no problem. Yeah right. I followed the experts’ advice and used a crate. Dora was (arguably) okay with it during the day, but when night fell, she despised it. She would whine and cry until I released her from what, I can only assume, was her interpretation of a medieval torture device. There was one particular night when, after hours of listening to her guttural protests, I finally picked up the crate (with her in it) and put it on the end of my bed. After another hour of talking to her gently to get her to come down, exhaustion got the better of me, so I, literally, released the hound. Dora proceeded to paw her way up to my pillows, plop herself down with an overly dramatic sigh, and instantly began to snore. From then on Dora became a permanent fixture in my bed – or I guess you could now say, HER bed.
As I’m sure many dog people know, when a dog is in a dead sleep trying to move them is the equivalent to trying to lift a concrete barrier with your pinky finger – nobody wins. Dora is no different. Try as I might, I cannot budge my twenty-pound blanket hog once she’s down for the count. If by some miracle I do manage to, the snake-eyed look I get sends a clear message about how she feels about my intrusion. Three years ago I convinced myself that upgrading from a queen bed to a king would be a wonderful luxury and something that I could lavish on my book reading, pillow loving self. After outfitting my new ultra-plush mattress with fresh sheets and fluffy new pillows, I proceeded to get ready for bed. When I returned to my room I found Miss Dora sound asleep in the MIDDLE of the king-size bed. Slightly bewildered, I called her out: “Dora. Wake-up. Dora! Oh, Dora!” With as little energy as she could muster she gingerly lifted her head and simply glared at me. “Dora, this isn’t YOUR bed, it’s MINE.” Her response? A chuff, a yawn, a couple of lip smacks – and then she rolled over, instantly falling back into a dazed slumber. Well, damn.
The thing is, when Dora sleeps, SHE SLEEPS. It is serious business to her. It’s a commitment that involves planning and foresight, an ideal location, and, most importantly, a buddy. Dora will not sleep alone. She is one of those dogs that genuinely prefers a nap partner. But she’s also not your typical spooner or snuggler; she just like to have one part of her body touching someone while she takes a journey to dreamland. This can involve her head or a paw on someone’s foot (as in the case of my mom) or a paw in an ear or tail in the face (as in the case with me). Dora’s favourite sleeping position is with all four legs in the air, belly exposed, under the cool breeze of a ceiling fan. Any time she has a really good siesta I refer to it as a “four paw nap”. If I answer the question, “did Dora sleep” with “yes, she had a four paw snooze”, this means that she slept on her back with all four paws in the air, her chubby pink belly exposed for all the world to see – or tickle.
Dora has taken up residence in my (nay, HER) bed for almost ten years. As much of a bed space hoarder as she is, I have come to realize how much I struggle to sleep if she’s not next to me – weird sleeping positions and all. Whenever I travel sans Dora, I always have to put a pillow behind my back for it’s the best Dora-surrogate I can find while on the road. Her warmth and softness instantly sends me off to my own snoozerland. And despite the occasional face farts or fight for space in a HUGE bed, Dora is the perfect sleep aid for those nights when the ZZZ’s don’t come easy. Even on the days when I wake up clinging to one side of the bed, my neck kinked from being strained at an odd angle, while Dora star-fishes in the dead centre of the comforter, I am grateful for the fact that her face is the first thing that greets me in the morning.
I remember reading a quote that stated: “The first thing you reach for in the morning is the thing you love the most”. The first thing I reach for in the morning is the warm body of pure joy breathing deeply next to me – who starts every one of my days with a hug and a face full of gentle puppy kisses. For that reason alone, I am more than happy to share my sleeping space – however small it may be.