Maudie’s got the ‘Yip Yips’. She’s fast asleep and dreaming . . .
I love to watch my dogs sleep. Especially in the evenings, when they’re all fat and fed and warm and content.
They’ve had their mad half hour when I first get home from work when they fling themselves crazily around the house, running from room to room, jumping on the bed, off the bed, over the couch, under the couch, barking and giggling and jostling each other up and down the hallway, until they finally stop, panting and wriggling and waiting for me to catch up and give them a pat.
They’ve had their walk around the park, sniffed every blade of grass, woofed at every other dog, had pats from all their fishermen friends and, if very lucky (me less so), found something really juicy and stinky to roll in.
They’ve lined themselves up in the kitchen and waited patiently (ha!) for me to get their dinner ready, wolfed it down as if they are never going to get another, and then lined up again and beseeched me for more (I’m such a bad mother—you can tell just by looking at them that I don’t feed them enough).
Mabel and Maude have had their obligatory wrestling contest holding a leg each of their favourite bear (poor bear), dragging each other back and forth across the room and growling fiercely at each other the whole time. (Molly doesn’t join in. Molly is above all that sort of nonsense.)
And then, and only then will they start to slow down, to get a bit yawny and a bit sleepy-eyed and grumbly and will retire to their favourite sleeping spots around the living room. Mabel likes the doggie bed in front of the telly (or lately under the couch—although I suspect that has more to do with trying to avoid the eardrops she is being subjected to twice daily at the moment). Molly likes to sleep on the other end of the couch from me, and woebetide any one who tries to take her spot (a bit like Sheldon really). And Maudie usually comes to rest tucked up half under my left arm and half across my lap.
Although they look so settled sometimes they won’t sleep for long. Perhaps after only ten minutes or so Mabel will yawn and stretch and sleepwalk out into the kitchen and help herself to a goodo . . . and then another . . . and maybe just one more . . . or some sound will permeate Molly’s sleepy depths and she will suddenly explode off the couch and hurtle, huffing and chuffing, out through the back door to kill whatever has disturbed her. (She’s usually back in within a minute or so quite pleased with herself so she obviously makes short work of any intruder, although I have yet to find the bodies).
But sometimes they drop into that deep, deep hear-nothing sleep, and that is where Maudie is now. She is sleeping with intensity. She is frowning. Her nose is twitching and her feet are running . . . and then gently gently her frown relaxes and her feet start to slow and she becomes very still . . . and then another excited little ‘yip yip’ and a tail flick and her feet are off and running again. I wonder what she is dreaming about? ‘Chasing rabbits’ my Dad would have said. Maybe, although I don’t know that Maudie has ever actually seen a rabbit . . .
In a little while she’ll wake up, stretch, go get a drink of water, stretch again, and then return to her favourite spot, turn around three times one way, turn around three times the other way, curl up again and go back to sleep. Just like that. And when I eventually go to bed myself and turn out the lights she will sleep all night too, having done not much else all day. Sigh. Do I sound jealous? Just a little bit. Apparently adult dogs sleep for around 12-14 hours a day. Puppies can sleep for up to 18 hours a day. I don’t think I need to sleep quite that long, but longer than a two hours at a stretch would be nice. I remember (in the dim, dark, distant past) I used to to sleep really, really well. Eight or nine hours a night. Blissful, unbroken sleep. Alas, no longer.
It was a couple of years ago now that I really noticed my sleep patterns changing. I tried everything (short of medication) to improve the situation, even (a very drastic measure) joining a gym to try and wear myself out (see earlier post ‘The only exercise I take. . .’) and, as much as I hate to admit it, the exercising does help. I can now go to bed dead tired and fall asleep almost immediately. It is the staying asleep that is the issue. Sometimes I overheat (other ladies of a certain age may know what that is like) and I have to get up and go for a walk around the house to cool down. Sometimes I hear something—or think I do—but the dogs haven’t heard anything as they are all still fast asleep (and how aggravating is that when you are wide awake and everyone else in your household is snoring their heads off? I know I said I love to watch them sleep, but there are limits you know . . .) At other times I have absolutely no idea why I have woken up. I’m fast asleep and then I’m not. I’m awake. Wide awake. With, it seems, not even slightest chance of nodding back off. So annoying.
So I get up and wash those few dishes I’d left in the sink, or tidy the living room, or decide what I am going to wear to work tomorrow, or read for a while (and also make sure all the dogs are awake ‘cos if I have to be awake in the middle of the night so do they), and then I’ll go back to bed and lie there for a while longer and at some stage eventually drop off again, sleep fitfully and wake up groggy and cranky and half an hour later than my usual getting-up time and have to rush around to catch up and probably be foggy in the head and irritable all that next day and—work colleagues you have been warned. The next evening I will be really, really tired and go to bed early and fall asleep quickly . . . and the whole process will start all over again. Sigh.
I know I shouldn’t complain. There are people out there who suffer much more than I. We have all read the research about what happens to people’s cognitive functions when they are even mildly sleep deprived—confusion, depression, headaches, irritability, etc (preaching to the choir here) but real insomnia is no laughing matter. People have actually died from not being able to sleep. I had not heard of it but there is a disease called Fatal familial insomnia (FFI) which is a rare, and ultimately terminal, genetically inherited disease. Once a person starts to show the symptoms, starting with insomnia, the illness progresses quickly and the symptoms include hallucinations, weight loss and finally dementia before the person actually dies within a relatively short period of times—so, like I said, I shouldn’t complain. That doesn’t mean I won’t of course . . . especially after my next sleepless night.
Of course, there are plenty of websites out there full of advice on how to best deal with this issue, some of the advice sounds good (no electronics in the bedroom), some less so (avoid alcohol in the evening—say what?) but, as I said, I’ve tried most of these ‘remedies’ already to small avail.
I wish I could just ask Maudie what her secret is. I know she’d tell me if she could because she loves me (and also because she is getting a bit fed up of me waking her up all the time just because I can’t sleep). But for now I guess I will just have to keep watching her and the others sleep and hope some of their sleepy dust rubs off on me.
Although, just quietly and while no-one is looking, I have been thinking I might just give that ‘turning around three times’ before I lie down thing a try. Maybe that’s some kind of secret doggie-Jedi-mind trick they pull on themselves. I’ll let you know how it works out . . .