My dog is no chicken. Um. I mean, not simply because he’s a dog, not a chicken. I’m trying to say that he’s bombproof when it comes to loud noises. He doesn’t react to thunder, fireworks, or cannon blasts. Raised alongside a series of increasingly neurotic rescue dogs at home who would promptly freak right out at the first bang of a 4th of July firework, I found Barnaby’s stoicism to be a nice change. A cannonade sounds on the Gettysburg battlefield? Barnaby doesn’t even stir from his snooze. (The same, unfortunately, does not hold true for any sound emanating from the TV that sounds even remotely like a knock or a doorbell.)
But last night, sometime after midnight, we had a classic Florida thunderstorm. Lightning struck so close that the light woke me up, and the force of the thunder shook the house Even the most stalwart canine might be slightly unnerved by such meteorological goings-on, and as the thunder rolled I heard Barnaby’s collar jingle as he raised his head, presumably to look out the window.
There was a pause of about thirty seconds, and then a second roll of thunder rattled the windows, and Barnaby stood up from his post beside my bed, and put his chin on my quilt. This adorable bit of begging translates to, “Can I come up on the bed with you?”
And of course I’m not going to tell my dog “no.” It’s like that scene from Sound of Music when all the Von Trapp children flee to Maria’s room during a storm. You don’t send the Von Trapp children back to bed without singing them “A Few of My Favorite Things” first. It’s just not done.
Similarly, you do not reject a dog’s plea to be allowed to come up on the bed just this once. Even if you sleep in a twin-size bed, and your dog is an 85-lb Bernese Mountain Dog mix that sheds and is a little bit on the whiffy side at the moment.
So I patted the bed, and Barnaby gave an almighty leap and crashed down beside me. I expected him to stretch out parallel to me, since that really was the only position in which he was reasonably going to fit onto the bed.
But my dog is not a creature governed by reason. He didn’t want a logical cuddle. He wanted comfort. And the position that he decided was most conducive to soothing his little puppy mind was to curl into as tiny a ball as possible, wedging himself between the wall and my body, enormous paws spilling out of his little Circle of Comfort and resting on my hip, effectively pinning me into place.
He stayed like that for a good ten minutes, trying to take up the space the size of a beach ball.
I wasn’t surprised when he stood up and starting moving; I assumed he was getting ready to jump down. He wasn’t trembling or panting or showing any other signs of freaking out, so I figured he was about to resume his regularly scheduled snooze on the floor.
I was wrong.
Apparently there was not adequate comfort to be had in being curled into a very tiny ball and wedged between two spaces. Barnaby began experimenting with different positions, trying to find one that would insulate him against the sound and the fury of the ongoing storm.
Which is how I ended up with a dog in my pillows at 1 o’clock in the morning. Barnaby ultimately decided that the best position was one in which he was lying on top of all my pillows, making contact with my head, wedged between the headboard and the wall, with his face buried in the gap between the wall and the corner of my bed.
I lay there, torn between the cuteness and the discomfort, until the thunderstorm finally trundled off into the distance, and Barnaby at last felt that it was safe to descend was more to the carpet.
I only hope that no lasting damage has been done to his previous imperturbability with regard to thunderstorms. But so far, he seems fine: