I think I may have made a terrible mistake. I did it out of love, though, so it can’t be that bad, right? But my actions are beginning to backfire on me now. Though I may have some regrets about what I did, I still am unable to stop because, even though it may be wrong, it still makes me feel warm and safe and loved.
Over the last several months that I have been living with my brother and sister-in-law, I have bonded with their three small dogs. I love animals and couldn’t resist letting their pets become part of my life. I haven’t had a pet of my own for several years and so the bonding is now a wonderful blessing for me. I love the dogs and I think, or I like to believe, that they love me too. I love the way all three dogs excitedly bark and dance around me whenever I walk in the front door. I enjoy the way the dogs cuddle up to me when I’m just sitting on the couch. I love the way they suddenly flop over onto their backs exposing their bellies for a quick rub every time I walk by them. So, you get the idea, the dogs and I usually love hanging out together. I would hang out with the cat, too, if she liked me. I’m never quite sure how the cat feels about me. She sits on my lap and plays with me one day and then hisses and snarls at me the next. Of course, because of the cat’s ever-changing attitude, I have grown closer to the dogs.
Lately, when the dogs get lonely, they knock on my bedroom door and ask if I want to build a snowman or ride bikes or something. No, not really, usually they just want to come into my room and hang out with me. They hide under my bed; they sleep under my desk; they dance around the room as they sniff and explore the area. The dogs especially love sitting on my lap when I’m on the computer. Of course, even though the dogs are small, I can hold only one at a time on my lap, which usually causes the dogs to fight with each other. They growl, snarl, and nip at one another which causes me to immediately send them out of the room for a time out. They are allowed to come back in to my bedroom again only when they promise to behave and get along. But, for the most part, when I am writing my blogs, novels, or emails, one of the dogs is usually cuddled up on my lap. I really enjoy these moments. It makes me feel really good to be holding an animal, especially a beloved pet, while I’m working. Whichever dog I’m holding usually likes to lean against the desktop and look at the information that is on the monitor. The dogs like most of my blogs. Their little tails start wagging back and forth and their tongues slid out to one side of their mouths. They will turn around to look at me with serene expressions on their furry faces. I usually have to be careful with the dogs if I’m sending emails. Several times, the dogs have leaned against the keyboard and sent out an email before I have completed writing it. None of the dogs seem to like my poetry, though. I think it puts them to sleep. They will lean against the desktop, look at the monitor, yawn widely, and then curl up on my lap and fall asleep again.
So, it is rather obvious that the dogs and I are best friends. But lately, the friendship may have gone a little too far. One of the dogs has started to take advantage of our relationship. But it is really hard to tell her no sometimes. Friskie is a lively, happy, playful dog who is covered in white and brown fur and has large, brown eyes. She is a small dog, probably weighing no more than 15 or 20 pounds.
So, a few weeks ago, when I was feeling lonely and a little down, I welcomed Friskie into my bedroom as soon as she scratched on my door late one night. I picked the dog up and placed her on the bed. I had never put any of the dogs in my bed before. But tonight, feeling sad, I decided to make an exception. It took a little time for the dog to get comfortably situated. At first, Friskie wasn’t sure what to make of her sudden good fortune and she roamed around the queen size bed for a moment stepping gingerly across the mattress and scratching at the sheets. She began to settle down into the far corner of the mattress until I crawled into the bed, picked her up, and placed her down in front of me. We both were settled on our right sides as I cuddled Friskie close to my chest. I began to relax as I felt warm and comforted. I began to scratch along the dog’s back, side, and chest. Soon, we both started to dose off. After about twenty minutes, however, I picked up Friskie and walked her to the door. I sat the dog down in the hallway. She looked up at me in surprise for a moment before I told her good night, threw her a few kisses, and closed the door to my room. A few minutes later, I could hear her little paws padding down the hallway to the living room where she normally sleeps.
The next night, once again feeling sad and lonely, I invited Friskie into my bedroom and placed her once more on my mattress. And again, after we had a few minutes of relaxation, I picked Friskie up and placed her outside my bedroom door. Again, I told her goodnight, gave her kisses, and closed my door. I listened to her slowly making her way back into the living room. This soon became our routine several nights a week.
But now, every evening around 9 pm, Friskie knocks on my bedroom door. Or sometimes if the dog sees me walking through the living room, she chases me down the hallway and races into the bedroom ahead of me as soon as I open the door. She tries excitedly to jump up on the bed but it’s too high for her. She never gives up, though. She continually runs and jumps, hits the side of the bed, tumbles backwards, and then runs and jumps again. She tries several times to get up on the bed. Finally, I pick her up and place her on the mattress. It makes me laugh that she is familiar with our routine now, even though, I don’t think I should keep her in the bed. I hadn’t actually meant for this activity to become an every night habit. But now, I’m not sure how to tell the dog no after I have spoiled her. So, I let her into the bedroom and up on the bed.
Well, to be honest I enjoy the comfort, too.
Friskie and I cuddle together under the blanket. We again both sleep on our right sides. I am behind her and wrap my upper body protectively around her. I hold her and scratch her chest and tummy. It makes me laugh when I pull my hand away and Friskie reaches out with her little paws and bats at my hand as she demands a few more pats. We lie quietly together and watch old episodes of Survivor on Amazon Prime on my computer. We giggle girlishly over Jeff Probst and debate who should be voted off the island next. We both soon drift off to sleep. A little while later, I’m awake and I again begin the ritual of moving Friskie off of the bed and out of the room.
But this is where we now have developed a little problem. As I try to move the dog off of the bed, she refuses to leave. She whines and sighs heavily. She presses her tiny, furry body deeper into the mattress. She digs her little paws into the blanket. The dog refuses to budge. She refuses to give up her safe, warm place on the bed. Again, I get out of bed and pick her up; however, when I try to lift her from the bed now, she suddenly goes limp in my hands. Even though this can be a little frustrating, it always makes me laugh out loud. I have seen children refuse to go somewhere with their parents. Their only defense is to suddenly let their bodies go completely limp. They become heavy, dead weight as they force their parents to try to lift and carry them. I always laughed over the way children just seemed to instinctively know how to do this. All children seem to know this trick. It must be an innate defense tactic that is written directly into the DNA. However, now I have discovered that animals are born knowing this very same trick! Friskie always goes limp now to avoid being thrown out of the warm, comfortable bed. Picking up this little, 20-pound mutt now feels like I am trying to lift a 100-pound pit bull. I struggle to pull the dog up and carry her over to the door. She lays wilted over my arms. I hold her by her mid-section as her head and paws dangle stiff and heavy down towards the floor.
I struggle to hold on to Friskie as I open my bedroom door. As I gently try to place her in the hallway, I feel like I am trying to throw a heavy sandbag in the middle of a flood-inducing rainstorm. She is heavy and drooping, and she has completely refused to help me in my dastardly deed of sending her away.
When I finally set her outside my door, she stands for a moment in the hallway looking up at me with large, puppy dog eyes as she continues to whine and beg to come back inside my room. She dances around in circles and barks loud enough to wake up everyone in the entire house. I usually have to pick her up and carry her into the living room where her dog bed is located. I put the dog down on her large, square, brown “puppy pillow” and cover her with her favorite, tattered blanket. I kiss her on the head and go back to bed. Throughout the night, though, she comes to my bedroom. She scratches at the door and cries. I lie in bed and regret that I ever let her in my room in the first place. Then I get up out of bed and open the door. I cuddle with her for a few minutes. I pet her, kiss her, and tell her I love her. I let her cry it out before I finally carry her back to her own bed and she sleeps peacefully.
The next night, though, she is at my door again; all has been forgiven. She scratches and begs to come into my room, and I am so happy she still loves me. I really don’t know who needs whom more. I’m just happy she is there for me once more. And maybe this is what people mean when they say that their pets love them unconditionally. Too bad we don’t always forgive and forget and choose to love again with other human beings.
So maybe I have made a horrible mistake with the dogs. Maybe I should have never let them into my room or let Friskie into my bed. But I guess we are all co-dependent. I know there will be more nights when Friskie and I will lie side by side, watching Survivor, giggling over Jeff Probst, cheering on our favorite contestants, and cuddle each other close; both of us feeling warm and loved….and, honestly, most nights, I don’t feel like I made any mistake as I cuddle the dog close. I have no regrets at all.