by Barry KuKes
My rescued Golden Retriever, Bentley, loves to sleep in our bed, and he prefers the middle, which pushes us out to each edge. We have a Queen-sized bed, and Bentley is a whopping 80 lbs.
Lately, he will jump onto the bed when we retire for the night. He will stay there until around 3 a.m. and then jump down and lay on the floor until about 5 a.m. when he will return to the middle of the bed and begin his “pet me or else ritual.” If you have a pet, you should be well-acquainted with this practice. It’s when your pet nudges your hand with its nose or paw until you pet them. If you stop, they nudge again. In Bentley’s case, this can go on for over an hour. Remember, he does this at 5 a.m. when we try to sleep. It’s no small wonder why when my physician asks, “how are your sleeping habits?” I reply, “non-existent.” He then recommends a couple of medications to help, but I don’t need a prescription; I need a vacation from Bentley.
Don’t misunderstand; I love Bentley very much. Many pet owners will sacrifice their comfort for the comfort of their pets. I see many cartoons depicting 3-5 dogs hogging a bed while people hang off each edge; thus, I know I am not unique. It’s no wonder back and hip pain are prevalent with pet owners.
We do not invite our other dogs up on the bed. Mini-Cooper is too tiny (hence his name), and we are afraid we might roll over him if we turn or flip at night. He cannot jump on the bed due to his small size, which is fine with us and Bentley. Our bed is the only place Bentley can get a little time out from Cooper, who is constantly begging Bentley to play. Our other dog, Spencer, is too old to jump up on anything, much less an extra tall bed, so he is very content to sleep at the foot of the bed.
I do recall a cold winter night years ago in South Dakota when the three dogs we had at the time were all in bed with my wife and me. We called it a three-dog night and were thankful for their warmth since the home we rented at the time was poorly built and difficult to heat. That was the last time more than one dog was in our bed.
We have many friends who have pet cats, and they tell stories about their nightly ex-periences. How their cats will jump on the bed and then lay on their chests or heads. At times, their cats will knead biscuits on their stomachs. Do you see a pattern here? People are always tired because their pets always need attention when they should be sleeping. God forbid cats and dogs sleep when their owners do. No, they sleep all day long when their owners are at work. How would they like it if we came home and slept on their dog bed with them?
Well, actually, they would probably love that. This appears to be a no-win situation for pet owners.
Pets sleeping in your bed can impacts your health. If you have allergies to pet dander, you can become stuffed up if you get too close to your pet. If your pet is restless while in bed, they will keep you awake, and your sleep quality will suffer. So, if pets seem to negatively affect our health due to impacting our sleep habits, why do we let them sleep with us? We love them. Even though their presence in our bed will cause us to sleep less and not nearly as soundly, they also bring us a great deal of comfort, knowing they love us. It is proven that touching your pet will reduce your blood pressure, and thus spooning with Fido will also make you feel content and safe. Your decision to share your slumber time with your pet is based on what is most important to you. I have decided to let Bentley continue to sleep in our bed, but I must admit, I am looking forward to the week vacation we are taking in a few months when he goes to stay with a friend. Ah, eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. I will miss him so.
Please remember to adopt, don’t shop when looking for your next bed hog.
Barry KuKes is the former Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society.