Pet Shifting

photo-139For quite some time now, it seems like most weekends have demanded an early rise; not quite as early as a normal workday, but early nevertheless. This weekend promised to be the first in a long time that I had no definite morning plans – no reason I had to get up early and I was psyched. Chances were I wouldn’t sleep all that late but it was nice knowing that I had nowhere I had to be.

Last night, however, I was out until fairly late and as a pet owner, that meant my dogs had been kenneled off and on a good chunk of the day and evening. In addition, one of my sons had asked me to watch his dog for the weekend, too. I arrived home and took the first shift of dogs out (mine) and got them settled before visiting briefly with our ever-growing kitten that would not be welcome upstairs once my son’s dog entered the equation. His dog would like nothing more than to ferociously chase the kitten around, barking like crazy, terrifying the kitten to no end. I have a feeling that the dog would simply stand there looking silly if the cat stood its ground, but I’m not going to take that chance. Next up, it was dog #3 out of his kennel and outside for his walk.

All three of these dogs lived together for about a year and a half and know each other pretty well. Given that my dogs are dachshunds and not particularly interested in being pals with other dogs at all, it was a bit of a one-sided friendship for the most part. Finn, my middle son’s dog, is a blue heeler cross, a herding dog with a lot of energy. He had the mindset early on that these little dogs would not only be his friends but that he could make them move around wherever he felt they should be. He struck out on both counts although they have a relationship that reminds me a bit of toddler play. No real conversation or engagement, but they hang out and do their own thing side by side. Now that Finn doesn’t live here, it can take him a little while to settle back in and for my dogs to acknowledge his existence once again and for all of them to just settle down together and chill the hell out – lovely to experience very late at night. Meanwhile, Mr. Fitz, the kitten was meowing furiously from the lower level clearly annoyed at not being included in the fun.

Given that I arrived home so late (my son had spent time with the dogs feeding and walking them in the late afternoon), it seemed only fair to stay up for a couple of hours and let the dogs stretch their legs, enjoy a rawhide chew or two and in one case, move from one sleeping position in a kennel to a new one on a papasan chair. I didn’t care. I knew I had nowhere to be in the morning and could sleep in. Finally, going to bed around 2 a.m., my pups went into their kennels where they sleep comfortably every night and Finn made his way into my room since he generally sleeps with my son.

I was tired enough not to really care what Finn was up to. He’s a good dog and doesn’t really get into things (other than the trash). I knew he’d roam my room a bit and either fall asleep on the floor or jump on my bed. Every now and then I’d make a little clicking noise, and he’d jump up and either lay next to me or across my feet (and he’s a heavy dog). He made me laugh, although I was half asleep and next thing I knew it was 6 a.m. I took Finn out for a brief walk and he seemed content to go back to his kennel, of course, chasing down the kitten on his way there.

Easing myself back into bed, delighted with the opportunity to bundle on the covers and curl up under them, I was ready for at least a couple of hours more of sleep. Then it started; first a little bark, then a whimper, then finally, the full-fledge barks of a dog who wanted out of its kennel. Part of it was that he knew another dog had been up and at ‘em already this morning and part was just a dog that wanted to go out. Up I got once again, bathrobe and slippers on, leashes in hand and two dogs in tow. We walked the yard for a while and when we got back in the house, I let both dogs get back in bed with me.

Once upon a time, they both slept in my bed, way down deep under the covers usually by my feet – or one at my feet and one curled behind my knees. My younger dog became a bit unreliable over time, feeling as if it was just fine to get up in the middle of the night, peeing on my carpet and slinking back in to her usual berth. After the second time, they started sleeping in a kennel at night. I always felt bad for my older dog that was usually fine through the night. They’ve grown to love their kennels though and my oldest one often goes in his to relax on his own.

So anytime they get to come in my bed feels like a real treat to them. They nestle in quickly and find their favorite spots. This morning, however, the little one didn’t seem to be able to relax. She is very sensitive to any changes in the house, whether it’s another animal in the house or someone staying over. When my mom stays here, my little Sophie sits outside the bedroom door waiting for my mom to wake up and come see her. She can’t seem to settle in and relax when something is amiss in the house. She went down by my feet, back up on my pillow, down next to my neck, up on the other pillow. Meanwhile, the other one, Gus, got a bit restless and started roaming as well. I started seeing that there would be no extra sleep this morning unless they went back to sleep somewhere else. However, with one mini dachshund peeking out from under the covers looking up at me in earnest and the other peering over my shoulder from under the other side of my blanket, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“C’mon,” I said. “Let’s just get up.” It took less than 5 seconds for two enthusiastic dogs to be on their way to the living room. A meow from somewhere else in the house urged me toward the lower level where one happy kitten greeted me and promptly ran up the stairs to join the dogs. These three are a bit comical together, given their relative proximity in size and casual demeanor with each other. The kitten ran in circles, exploring everywhere that Finn most likely had been before settling down on the couch on his favorite pillow. Gus joined me for toast and coffee, although his real interest was in the toast crust and left the coffee to me. Sophie? Curled up in the papasan chair within minutes and went to sleep.

A couple of hours later? Two dogs out cold in the papasan chair, and the older one has a bit of snoring going on. Mr. Fitz is sound asleep in deep, deep slumber on the couch still, content as can be. Finn is also asleep, not a noise coming from his direction at all. And me, in spite of the coffee, I’m still sleepy as can be but cozy on the couch for a little longer. I may not have slept in, but at least there’s nowhere I have to be for a while.

Categories: Family, Pets

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