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The challenges of sleeping with an older dog

When you sleep with an old dog...

...Now listen, if you’re going to think like that, I’m going to turn this column around and drive straight home, do you hear me?

Let’s try that once again: when you sleep with an old dog, a dog with continence issues, concessions must be made. Thus, our ‘family bed’ of critters has become, like every other area in our home, ‘Pee Pad Central.’

Bonnie is closing in on birthday number 15, an absolute miracle given the fact that she was diagnosed with enlarged heart at age 10, and Rosie, still looking to the world like a 5 year old, is right behind her, nearing 14. And because Bonnie, like many humans, is on Lasix, her need to empty her bladder is pretty constant. It would break her heart to no longer be allowed to sleep with us, little head directly between our pillows, and frankly, what’s the point of having a dog, I once argued to Paul who’d grown up with a strict, ‘no dogs on the furniture!’ household, if one can’t fully embrace the whole ‘happiness is a warm puppy’ every night?

So now there is quite the nightly ritual in our household. Beneath our flannel sheets lies the plastic mattress cover to protect against any, er, leakage, and before we go to bed we place on top of the fitted sheet two pee pads, giving Bonnie’s bum approximately 12 square miles of coverage should she change positions during the night. Covering the pee pads is a folded fleecy throw so we will all be comfy cozy instead of rolling over on crackly absorbent paper. Determined to keep her dignity, Bonnie will often wake me with an urgent paw, around 2am, telling me she’s got to go NOW, and instead of carrying her downstairs in a sleep deprived blur and subjecting both us to to 20 degree temperatures, I now simply lift her down to the floor beside the bed- lined with pee pads- she complies with an obedient squat, and hoist her back up between us.

It should be noted that bed linens are changed with the frequency of Gwen Stefani’s hair extensions and soiled pads placed in air-tight ‘diaper bin’ first thing in the morning as I have a mortal fear of a guest coming into our home with a suspicious twitch of the nose, picking up an odor I might have gotten used to.

Area rugs are vacuumed often, necessitating clean pee pads to be removed then replaced to protect the groovy, mid-century modern design I adore and haven’t seen since I bought them. Likewise more pee pads (just in case) are placed beneath the waterproof cover that lies over the length of our pale blue sofa with the muted swirls of gold. Frankly, it’s become such a hassle to cover everything up that we have secretly deemed only a few individuals, ‘Pee Pad worthy,’ meaning, do these VIPs warrant the half hour task of taking up all pads and covers in order to display an immaculate, well-appointed home for the evening, only to have to replace it all as soon as they leave and before Bonnie begins to cross her legs and a cat blows a hairball, somewhere?

The answer is precious few and this past year, only included the afternoon of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and having a couple from church over for dinner. Everyone else is used to our rather bizarre decor and being dog lovers, themselves, wave an airy hand of, “Who cares? You should see the state of our carpet!”

My kinda folks.

“I wonder if Rosie’s going to need this in the future, too?” Paul said, clearing away with distaste, the damp fleecy throw one morning, as well as the T-shirt he had worn as he had rolled over in the middle of the night, in deep sleep, right in the middle of a small puddle.

“I should think so,” I replied. “And then after them, after awhile, it’ll be us.”

“I doubt that,” Paul said, grimly. “Not everyone needs pee pads.”


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