Murray, KY – Every so often I'll get a panicky email from a new dog owner:
"I think my dog is having seizures. When he is sound asleep he will twitch his legs and his eyes roll around and he yelps in pain. What do I do?"
Ah, dog dreams. This morning - technically it was, I suppose, the middle of the night, three or four AM - Very Old Dog had repositioned himself from our determination of "his spot" on the bottom of our bed, to his determination of "his spot" on my pillow between Bill and me. He had kindly but firmly reminded me of the clause in his contract where in
3 (c) Human Servant shall at all hours, immediately awaken and raise bed sheets to allow access to Canine for snuggling under covers.
OK, so I was a little sketchy on the "awaken" part, but I had managed to lift up our covers and enjoy the warmth and closeness of Very Old Dog. Unfortunately, Bill was fulfilling another clause in the contract
3 (f). Human shall move to the very edge of the bed, taking up no more that six (6) inches of mattress space, and shall uncomplainingly endure doggy toenails digging into all parts of Human's body, including but not limited to chest, back, face, rump, and private parts.
You get the picture: Bill clinging for dear life to remain on his own bed, me feeling warm and snugly with Very Old Dog, and said Very Old Dog entering his deepest REM phase of sleep. This dog was so full of fun in his youth and middle age. He was a dog who would run butt tuck zoomies in figure eights just for the sheer enjoyment of the running. He would play ball until he dropped. He would chase squirrels up a tree and then jump ten feet up the trunk for fun. He still tries - hard - to join when the youngsters now do zoomies and leapies, scaring the living bejesus out of his Servant. He's got some bad discs in his neck, and his legs go all wobbly, and zoomies and leapies are life threatening events. So his Servant, sadly, must do everything in her power to curtail such activities.
But not when he's dreaming. I watch with delight as my darling Very Old Dog paddles madly in his sleep. I imagine him running through autumn crisp gold fields of oat straw, zigging and zagging and leaping to get a better view, just because he can, and just to afford me the thrill. I see my torpid dog's tail thumping on my bed, and I picture him racing by me in his dream, sporting a devilishly delighted grin as he skims past my vulnerable shins, accelerating as he goes by, gaily wagging his pleasure. His eyes, blinking and unseeing in his sleep, sparkle with life and joy and boundless energy in his dream. He purely winks at me as he runs by. And when I hear the quiet, "Yip, yip, rahr, ruhr," of his sleeping voice I translate that into battle cries of the hunt. Oh is there no more beautiful music than that of a hound in full tongue? Or the barks of a joyful reunion? The woof of anticipation at the soon-to-be-thrown toy or ball?
I know my Very Old Dog's dreams are full of pleasure. They allow him the pure canine thrills which now elude him. Perhaps that's why he sleeps so much more these days. I hope I am a part, even a small one, of his dreams. I hope I was a good enough Servant to be included in remembered good times. I hold him close and I feel the dream melt away. He sighs, snuggles into the pillow, and waits for the next dream to take him back to his glory days.
Every day is a gift. Every day is a treasure. Dream on.