My dachshund, like most people, has trouble sleeping through the night – now that she’s gotten old.
This morning, after taking her outside at 4:00 a.m. to fulfill an obvious need, I had three goals: (1) Help her settle into bed and fall back asleep, (2) Keep her quiet so everyone else in the family could sleep, and (3) Delay feeding her until 6 a.m. to end this behavior for good.
After ten minutes and 3 more trips outside, I gave up on my first goal.
But I had this. I could still keep her quiet and delay her food. I could. I would not be bested by a dachshund.
I lay down again, resolved.
She sauntered to the edge of the bed, and I could see her gearing up for a loud, sharp bark. I lifted her and set her right back in the middle of the bed to start over. She shook her head and sauntered to the edge of the bed. Again. And again.
She is a very persistent dog.
Finally, I set her on the floor to wander. The down side of her wandering was that I had no way of noticing and pre-empting the bark. The upside was that it allowed me one brief but delicious cat-nap.
Soon, of course, she was barking her head right off. I just lay there in our basement guestroom – where I had taken the dog to give my Honey a small break – feeling sleepy and a little defeated.
Did I mention this was Morning #6 of such behavior?
She had at least three full barking fits before I took pity on my family again, got out of bed, and threw in a load of laundry. She seemed relatively content wandering the basement and sniffing things, licking things, weaving between my feet, looking up at me now and again as I sorted and folded.
I remembered her in her spry youth, stealing food right off my daughter’s high chair tray – my daughter who wears braces now and carries a 20-lb. backpack to and from school.
I looked at my little Lucy with her milky, near-blind eyes and her waggy tail, and something about my posture must have suggested compassion. Or weakness. Or something. Because she started barking again, like, “You fool! Don’t you know what I want?!?”
I took her outside. It wasn’t what she wanted, but what else could I do? She barked for the neighbors.
The sky showed faint layers of red and near-gold against the deep blue of night. I went back to bed while Lucy wandered, but I couldn’t fall asleep.
She wanted up. She wanted down. She wiggled. She licked. She grew agitated when I tried to hold her in place, and at 5:45 a.m., I abandoned my third goal.
I brought her food downstairs and poured it into a bowl. I dampened it for her ancient teeth and placed it on the floor – done.
She sniffed once and walked away.
Frantic, I ran upstairs, grabbed two treats, came back downstairs to a cacophony of barking, and sprinkled the treats over her food.
Dog: 3. Human: 0.
By 6 a.m., she was lying, silent and content, next to my Honey in the bed. … where she slept soundly for the next hour and a half.
I made coffee.
I started my shower.
A few minutes later, my daughter came into the bathroom and asked from behind the curtain, “Mom?”
“Did you do any laundry?”
Why … yes. Yes, I did.