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The pawlitics of bedtime

On my first night in Missoula, I fell asleep with one dog and woke up with a different one.

On the next night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with one.

On the third night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with none. 

For the first time in our five months of traveling, in the latest of the long line of friends and family off whom we have freeloaded, Ace opted to sleep with someone other than me.

My feelings are hurt, but not too badly.

Back in Missoula, Ace has found a lively playmate, and I’ve been in full freeloading mode, enjoying all the comforts of somebody else’s home.

Gwen Florio, a reporter for the Missoulian, who I used to work with at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was kind enough to invite Ace and I to stay with her, her husband Scott, and their dog Nell – a four-month-old Brittany spaniel.

I’ve eaten most of their leftovers, drank most of their milk, eaten most of their eggs, watched their TV and had my own room in the basement, featuring one of the top two beds I’ve slept on (the other being in Santa Fe) during our journey.

Two more weeks on it, and I think my back would stop hurting.

But, as  much as I’ve enjoyed nesting at Gwen’s, it’s time to press on to Seattle.

On the first night, I retired early and Ace came to bed with me. When Nell jumped in – well to be honest, she jumped up, putting her front paws on the bed, and I pulled her up the rest of the way – Ace jumped off. I fell asleep snuggling with Nell, but when I woke up she was gone, and Ace was laying at my side.

On the second night, Gwen was working late on election night, and after watching a little bit of the “shellacking” on TV, I retired early. This time, Ace didn’t mind Nell joining us (if only Republicans and Democrats could learn to co-exist so quickly), and I fell asleep with the two of them – once Nell completed her process of nibbling my hands, squirming, walking over me, turning in circles, pawing at the bedspread, nibbling my hands some more, turning a few more circles and finally flopping down with a sigh. By morning, though (like many a Democrat), she was gone.

On the third night, I retired even earlier, and they both followed me to bed, and  both got in. But when I woke up they had both abandoned me. While I slept, Gwen had returned home and the dogs joined her for the night. Fortunately, her husband was out of town so there was room in her bed for them both.

Ace and Nell have gotten along great, and it has been interesting to watch their play progress — from timid and restrained to no-holds-barred wrestling. She’s Muhammad Ali to Ace’s Joe Frazier. In her back yard, a stone’s throw from the base of Mt. Jumbo, she runs circles around him, eggs him on, gives him a jab or a nip, then darts away. He keeps plodding forward, swinging with his paws, then watching as she bounces across the yard like a pinball.

Ace — despite my initial fears — hasn’t tried to use Nell’s dog door. It’s the perfect size for her, and she speeds in and out of the house at her will. It’s the perfect size for Ace to get stuck in. I had visions of having to take the door off its hinges and taking them both to a vet, or a hardware store, to have dog and door surgically separated.

Luckily, Ace hasn’t tried to use it, or even poke his nose through, probably because it — also like politicians — flaps and makes noise .

Nell, at four months, still engages in the kind of mischief pups perpetrate. At home during the day, while I wasn’t paying attention, she snagged a full roll of toilet paper, took it through her dog door and proceeded to decorate the lawn with confetti. She managed to get into my toothpaste, but apparently decided not to make a meal of it.

Ace, though he seemed unsure how to react to her puppiness at first, now wrestles with her in the way he does with his favorite dogs, nipping at her legs, trying to put her entire head in his mouth, going after her little nub of a tail — all with his trademark gentleness.

When he tires of it all he flops down in the yard, as he did yesterday morning. The grass was white with frost, and Ace relaxed with one of Nell’s toys that he’s grown especially fond of, probably because it has, or once had, peanut butter in it.

For 15 minutes, as Nell alternately looked on, ran circles around him, darted inside and out again, Ace laid there with the purple toy, and when he got up, there was a big green circle where the frost had melted away under his body heat.

To me, it seemed symbolic (then again, I hadn’t had my coffee yet) of what dogs do for us.

They melt away our frosty exteriors, they bring out the unjaded us that can be buried pretty deeply beneath the shells we hide behind, the image we project, all our bullshit and bluster.

They knock down the walls we put up.

Maybe our politicians could learn a thing or two from them, to the point of even becoming bedfellows — not in the dirty sense of the word, but in terms of working together to achieve a goal.

How cool would that be, if they could all settle down, bark less, share the toys, and — as dogs do — make the world a better place?


Comment from Pamela
Time November 5, 2010 at 6:36 am

Maybe we need to have therapy dogs hanging around in Congress. It might be just what we need!

Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time November 5, 2010 at 8:47 am

The Beagle has adopted a new approach to the whole “bed” thing. The usual drill would be, humans get up in the morning, the bed is “made.” That is, the covers are pulled smooth, the spread is put on and tucked up over the pillows, all ready to be un-made at night. Spencer now goes in at some point during the day and carefully digs until the spread is pulled off the pillows. I’ve observed before that people make their beds in the morning while dogs wait to make theirs at night. Spencer is apparently trying to indoctrinate us into the dogs’ more sensible approach to the whole exercise.

Comment from smitty
Time November 5, 2010 at 9:43 am

First, I greatly enjoy reading of Ace’s and his guardian’s adventures.

But I am compelled to comment upon the notion presented, that the Democrat and Republican political critters might try “working together to achieve a goal”.

The present sorry conditions ARE the result of those two parties working together, and the results are intrusive and increasingly brutal governmental behavior against often peaceful citizens-and their dogs. Our ‘drug warriors’ have become quite fond of kicking down doors and blasting away at our dogs…and us. They shoot first, then avoid questions and accountability later…

The results of so-called “working together” can be seen in government spending levels that are creating a
debt-monster that threatens to make slaves of us all.

The above two paragraphs offer only a hint of the disappointing results of ‘modern’ governance…

We suffer under a largely one-party political class that masquerades as two, in order to perpetuate the charade that we rule ourselves.

Sorry to get political, but I didn’t raise the subject.


“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

– Pericles

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time November 5, 2010 at 10:44 am

Totally adorable and engaging tale! I too have dogs who rotate positions in my bed throughout the night. Being an ultra-light sleeper, I guess I have become accustomed to their jostling and vying for position and rarely if ever awake to it all. Loved your image of dogs melting away our frosty exteriors. I always say that my dogs teach me every day how to be a better person. THANKS.

Comment from jwoestendiek
Time November 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

Thanks for the thoughts, Smitty … and Pericles, too.

Comment from Lynn (in Louisiana)
Time November 6, 2010 at 10:57 am

Wonderful post! And great photos too. I especially like the last one. Judging by the claw grip, Ace is serious about that toy!!

Comment from kelly
Time November 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Love this.

Comment from susanb
Time November 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

Love this.