Sleeping Arrangements


Our friends looked at us in shock when we told them of our sleeping arrangements.

Previously, the only decision regarding sleeping arrangements in our house had to do with who spoons who. That was until we started letting the dogs sleep on the bed with us. After that, there was no spooning. In fact there was no room for any utensils.

Frankly, I do miss the forking.

We’re accustomed to strange looks when people learn we let the dogs sleep on the bed. Heck, we’re accustomed to strange looks anytime the subject of our dogs comes up.

Some people believe strongly in the existence of God, and build their lives around that belief. They call it having a “God-Centered Life”.

For our part, we lead a Dog-Centered life. It’s not a religion or belief. It’s more of a desire to make dogs a part of nearly everything we do. Preferably big dogs, and by “big dogs” we mean dogs so big they can be seen from space; dogs so big they affect the tides; and dogs so big that if they were a bank the government would bail them out.

Big dogs require a lot. A lot of food, and a lot of attention. Honestly, if you’re not prepared to spend a huge amount of time with your pet, the best dog to get would be a cat.

As they get old, big dogs can accrue a lot of problems, like bad hips; poor eyesight; an inability to balance a checkbook; gambling debts, etc.

Our dog, Beorn, a one hundred twenty-five pound Bernese Mountain Dog, is closing in on eleven years old (beating the odds for most Berner lifespans), and well into the inevitable downhill slide on his mortal coil.

He’s slowing down a lot. In particular, his hind legs have lost the strength necessary to climb the stairs to our bedroom. We compensated for a couple years with a sling under his hindquarters and helped him up, but as much as he wants to get up there (and he does!) it’s just too much for his weak legs. Halfway up the stairs, he gives up, and it takes a major effort to lift him the final few steps.

So these days he’s sleeping on the main floor. But we can’t just leave him down there all alone when he so desperately wants to be with us, his pack.

Solving this problem meant a change in our sleeping arrangements, and somehow the topic came up and we told our friends, who now think we’re nuts. Or, more accurately our friends think we’re even more nuts than they previously thought.

It’s very simple. Our new sleeping arrangements consist of us switching off on the couch on the main floor. One night, The Missus has the duty. The next night, me. Beorn sleeps happily on the floor next to whoever has the couch that night.

Our friends were stunned by this.

It was as if we had told them we were on the new Ultra-Vegan Shadow Diet in which we only consumed the shadows of plants held up to the sunlight by indigenous farmers, and then tenderly replanted in organic soil on sacred First Nation lands.

Were it to actually exist – and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it did – I’m sure the Ultra-Vegan Shadow Diet would be a great way to lose weight while at the same time allowing you to feel smugly superior to those who eat real food.

But we weren’t talking about insane vegan diets. We were talking about a rational solution to a problem for a member of our family.

We’re not sure how much time we have left with Beorn. But we don’t want his last days (or nights) to be filled with anxiety. He’s never liked being alone. Berners are like that. They want and need the closeness of their pack, even at night.

I don’t expect my friends to understand this, and I don’t care what they think. This is how we chose to live our lives. The bond we have with our dogs is a mutual bond that goes both ways. They trust us, and we do everything we can to preserve that trust and love.

Eventually, Beorn will be gone and we will revert back to the standard sleeping arrangement. And we’ll do it knowing we filled the last chapter of his life with as much love and care as we did all the previous chapters.

This is what it’s like; this is the obligation we take on when we choose to love big dogs.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Steve in 2021
About the Author

Topdog is Steve Merryman, a retired graphic designer, illustrator, and unrepentant asshole. Steve can usually be found working on a portrait commission or some other artwork. Steve fills his days by painting, writing, shootin' guns, cuttin' trees, hiking with his dogs, and savoring a beer or two, all while searching for the perfect cheeseburger. He studiously avoids social media and is occasionally without pants.