10 Things My Dog Taught Me That Made It Possible for Me to Get Married

An excerpt from Dog Is My Co-Pilot, from the editors of The Bark

My husband and I sleep with an Irish Wolfhound named Dante in a wrought-iron queen-sized bed. Our combined weight is somewhere in the vicinity of five hundred pounds, and while I don't know enough math to tell you how much square footage of the bed's surface we cover, I can tell you that when we are all in there, it is impossible to determine the color of the bottom sheet.

We start out at bedtime in a fairly organized fashion. I get in bed first, in the very center, and lie on my side, facing the center of the room. Dante gets in next, and spoons his long body in front of mine, facing the same direction. Since he gave up all doglike postures years ago in favor of human ones, and since he and I are approximately the same length, we are toe-to-toe at the foot of the bed. My nose comes down right at the back of his head, so I can fall asleep to the cinnamon smell of his ears. Martin squeezes into bed between me and the wall, and I am in my favorite place, the meat of the sandwich between the two pieces of bread I love most in the world.

Where we end up, by morning, is anybody's guess. Dante has a habit of encroaching, and I, ever fearful of inadvertently pushing him off the bed, have been successfully trained to scoot -- at the slightest provocation -- nearer to the wall without really waking up. That leaves Martin wedged in the crack between the wall and the bed, which he sometimes responds to by reversing direction and wrapping his similarly long torso around Dante's and my feet.

Dante, meanwhile, will have decided that he and I are not quite close enough, and will have rolled over to face me, slinging his front leg over my shoulder and his back leg across my knees, burying his often drippy nose into my neck and blowing damp little snot bubbles for the rest of the night.

I often wake to Dante chasing rabbits in a dream, his back paws kick-kick-kicking at my shin bones, his nose twitching rapidly against my cheek. Martin's big toe will be stuck in my ear, and the comforter will have disappeared entirely. Dante will have somehow managed to get all four pillows under his body, and if I try to extricate one of them he will resort to what we call "gravity dog mode," in which he somehow triples his body weight without ever opening his eyes. Sometimes when I wake up I'm in the crack, Dante is diagonal across the entire bed, and Martin has given up and gone to the couch.

I can almost hear your head shaking, hear you pronouncing my marriage doomed. But neither Martin nor I would ever think of changing the sleeping arrangements, and we figure whatever we lose in sleep we make up for in other ways. Martin says, "What's a few nights on the couch in exchange for what so far is turning out to be a pretty great marriage?" We both know that if it wasn't for all the things that living with Dante has taught me, I would have never figured out how to be the marrying kind.

Discover the 10 lessons learned now!

Reprinted from Dog Is My Co-Pilot, from the editors of The Bark © 2003 Permission granted by Crown Publishers.

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