Monday, June 7, 2010

Bear gets a bed, sort of

About three months after we moved to Thunder Bay, Morgan and I inherited a bunch of furniture from one or our neighbours, a couple who were returning to their native Nova Scotia. Among the bulky furniture they didn’t want to take with them was a double bed. Up until that point Morgan and I had been sleeping on an inflatable air mattress which, though it was fairly comfortable, was a bit like sleeping on a waterbed when one of us rolled over, got out of the bed or into it. The air rumbled around in that thing like a brewing storm. The real bed was a nice change.

Bear appreciated it too. The air mattress sat on a frame that was quite a bit taller than a regular bed frame and made the jump up more challenging for her. When we set up the “new” bed, Bear was ecstatic, leaping onto it and standing in the middle of the mattress, tail swinging wildly from side to side as though claiming it as her own. At the very least she was sure one-third of it belonged to her.

I suppose she would be right in thinking that. Just about every morning we invited Bear onto the bed between us for Bear sandwiches. She would flip onto her back, big floppy feet waving around in the air while we rubbed her belly, hugged her and told her how wonderful she is; mostly fulfilling what I’m sure she felt was her birth right, which made it all the more difficult to turn her away when she stated her belief that we should all be sleeping on the bed together all the time.

Quite often after we tucked her in for the night on the couch and lay reading in bed we would hear the squeak of couch springs followed by the galumph of her feet hitting the floor. A purposeful march of paws on plywood picked out a straight line to our room then stopped abruptly as Bear stood on the threshold staring at us, ears set seriously, squaring her face while her eyes focused almost accusingly on our own.

We told her she was a good girl and should go back to the couch. Usually we’d have to tell her at least twice before she’d drop her head, roll her eyes and turn on her heel with as much attitude as a teenager who’s just been given an earlier curfew. Morgan and I couldn’t help smiling at each other and shaking our heads when the couch creaked again under her weight, followed by a loud floomph as she flopped herself into her spot, then a few grumbles and grunts, as though muttering under her breath the injustice of having to sleep on the couch when clearly she belonged on the bed.

Sometimes during the night, when the house was in darkness, the bedroom door would issue a whispering squeak as it swung slowly open. I knew Bear had nudged it with her nose and I lay listening for the sound of her feet on the wooden floor. After a few seconds’ silence I would hear a tiny clip of the toenails of one foot grazing the floor as Bear took a tentative step into the room. It was different from the regular clip-clopping of her nails when she walked and I imagined her trying to tip her toes up off the ground to walk silently on her pads.

Then the sound of the next foot treading lightly into the room. She continued this slow pace, quietly clipping over the floor and taking forever to tiptoe her way around the bed that filled almost all the space in the tiny room. I lay there beneath the covers, eyes open in the darkness, stifling a laugh.

Then I would feel the weight of her head on the bed beside me, quietly trying to get my attention and coax an invitation to climb under the covers.

If I ignored her, she’d eventually sink to the floor beside me, her front feet rasping forward across the rough, painted surface. The sound was accompanied by a loud exhaling of air which stopped with the clunk of her elbows making contact with the floor, and then was punctuated by a grumble as she settled her head onto her paws.

If it was clear she intended to stay on the cold floor beside me for the night, I would turn to her and tell her to go back to the couch at which point she snapped to her feet, wagging her tail with a thump, whump rhythm as it made contact with first the wall and then the side of the bed. She then thrust her nose towards me in excitement as though she hadn’t heard what I’d said but if I was awake then surely the negotiations could begin. To sweeten the deal she threw in a kiss.

“No Bear,” I would say. “Go sleep on the couch.” Then the heartbreaking silence as her tail stopped wagging and I imagined it hanging limply behind her. But in the next breath her tail would start up again with a renewed enthusiasm and she’d stomp her foot loudly as if to say, ‘oh, you’re kidding right?’

“No Bear, on the couch,” more firmly this time.

The space between my side of the bed and the wall couldn’t have been more than a foot wide, not enough room for Bear to turn around, so with loud clomping steps she backed up the length of the bed, bumping it with a bargey wiggle as she made her best attempt to storm from the room in a huff. She was clearly extra frustrated because she had to walk backwards, which included navigating the corner where she sometimes stopped and just about bent herself in half trying to turn around in the extra fraction of space found there.

I know she was trying to be terribly serious and make a point, but every time this scenario played out I couldn’t help laughing even though I did feel sad for poor, lonely Bear. I would have loved to invite her onto the bed but there just wasn’t enough room for the three of us, considering Bear has no concept of sharing and is the biggest bedhog in the world. Plus, I don’t think Morgan would have taken too kindly to me asking him to sleep on the couch to make room for the dog.


  1. Your sense of humour surfaces here, Heather, as you nicely bring Bear's childlike and persuasive persistence into view. She becomes a complete character, a full-fledged member of the family somehow overlooked when it's time to sleep. You softly pile on the concrete details of her actions and her sounds and so she comes alive for us. I can't help thinking how differently muscular Murdoch would approach this problem of "slipping" into your and Morgan's bed. Now, that would be funny!

  2. The funny part is that Morgan would gladly move toe couch if Murds was moving into the bed...

    Although I suspect it may become a permanent condition, then it would snowball into me having to sleep in a chair, because Bear would not give up the couch...

    Then again I would have to kick a cat out of the chair, and that would wake them up!!

    ..they would think it was time to play even though it would very clearly be time for bed....

    I see where this is going...I would end up sleeping in the tub.