The first thing I noticed on waking this morning was that the six inches of the king size bed that are mine were occupied. By myself (obviously) and my bad tempered ginger-cat Morris who sleeps curled up in my arms. As he falls asleep he likes to be rubbed until he's had enough. How do I know when enough is enough? Easy. He bites my arm, gently, the way a lion snaps the neck of a f*cking Zebra.
There's more. My territory had been encroached upon during the night.
A Beagle (Orla) has somehow managed to burrow beneath my pillow. Now snoring loudly; she twitches as she dreams of chasing the cat that's asleep inches away from her. Not the smartest tool in the shed our Beagle. Hey, what's that?
The pit-bull (Bella) has muscled between my leg and the edge of the bed and is sound asleep, her breathing that much quieter than the disturbingly frequent puffs of gas emanating from her bepuckered tush. My wife's toes touch mine as they always do; as I track my foot up her silken thigh I meet a barrier; that's Charlie, the red-boned coon hound, sleeping the sleep of the dead until he feels my advance and growls. He growls AT ME! He sleeps 21 hours a day; I can't imagine what he dreams about. It can't be about living since he does so little of it.
I turn sleepily toward my wife and nuzzle her head with my nose looking for a morning smooch. Except that's not her head, it's Maggie's. Our Harlequin Great Dane who, when I open my bleary eyes, is staring blankly at me. Between us is the length of her nine-inch proboscis, the tip is dewy with morning moisture. She loves me. To confirm this she licks me twice with her wash towel of a pink tongue. No shower needed for me today, I'm drenched.
Don't wander; I'm not done. From beneath the bed growls Nessa the miniature Shepard, angry at the world that she now has to wake-up. She's the Alpha, a position in the pack that has its perks; like sitting at the dinner table beside my wife to eat left-overs ("to reinforce her dominion," I'm assured), as I struggle to eat my own dinner. Wiggling like a little pig around my (ample) groin, Izzy the Chihuahua awakes suddenly and struggles to the top of the quilt, bursting forth, full of the joys of life. So full indeed that she licks my bald head like an ice-pop for a full two minutes (my arms are trapped under the covers), her eyes bulging at the joy of a new day.
You're probably wondering what is on the rest of the bed beside my wife. Mainly Maggie's body; how big do you think a shagging' King Size is?
I have a choice. I can lay there and enjoy the warmth that only sleeping with a pack can bring or I can slip quietly out of bed without waking the sea of bodies. Either way there is a price to pay. Staying ensures a stampede when my wife decides to get up. When that happens oddly enough both Maggie and Charlie have an uncanny knack of using my (well endowed) crotch as a spring board.
Or I can get up. I do. That I instantly know is a mistake. The Alpha (Nessa) starts the warm-up bark and is immediately joined in a chorus as the other howlers join in; the hound, the Beagle; the Chihuahua sings a sweet accompaniment; Maggie hums; Bella, the pit-bull, looks terribly confused by it all.
"Cup of tea, darling?" my bride's soft voice asks. "Why yes, please," I respond, knowing it wasn't a question, rather a request.
Minutes later I stumble back to the bed where my beloved awaits resting against fluffed up pillows tucked in tightly with a comfy array of neat bed linens. As I enter six heads swivel to greet me (the seventh, my wife, is watching TV) and quickly assess what's for breakfast. Despite my protestations, they all receive an equal share of whatever's on the menu; cereal, toast and even a muzzle full of cold coffee for the pit-bull who's an out-and-out addict.
As I prepare for my day I hear the bathroom door open and a firm order of "Out!" followed by the patter of multiple dogs exiting. My wife has been followed as she heads for the shower and despite the predictable response it never gets old for the dogs. My wife is easily tracked in the house; just listen for the posse. And the running conversation which goes something like this.
"Get down off the sofa, Charlie, you know you're not allowed up there." (He's been there an hour) "Maggie, leave Victor and Jack alone" (two large brother cats who were rescued during a Hurricane who think the pooches are stark raving mad).
"Izzy, don't eat Morris's ears." (Izzy sacks Morris at every opportunity and yet, remarkably, the cat hasn't yet killed her. Amazing)
"Orla, you've had ENOUGH already, that's quite enough you little piglet…alright here…" (Orla eats. She's a Beagle, apparently it's what they do.)
"Charlie, if you're going to sit on the sofa at least lie on the blanket." (Jesus H. C.)
"Morris, don't bite the mommy,"(While Morris - my friggin' cat - rips me to shreds, 'the mommy' is treated with tenderness usually reserved for the very sick or old),
"Nessa, get away from the window and leave the ducks alone…" (The wild ducks are another story; they come to the front door to be fed at breakfast time otherwise they share the shade under the Hibiscus with the Iguanas. Yes, they get fed too).
This goes on all day.
Only two words can end the near constant conversation, but they bring with them a terrible, frightening response; "DOG PARK!"
I don't know if you've ever seen that picture from the 1970's of the college kids in California attempting to set a record at filling a Volkswagen Beatle with bodies. A similar scene occurs here after the mention of the "DP" words as the dogs attempt to open and enter my wife's X5, leashes dragging from necks and mouths; a frantic frenzy of barking, scrabbling, biting; a symphony of howls and screeching fighting over who's going to sit where.
The journey is worth seeing as Maggie sits with her front paws on the seat divider and her head, giant lips flapping, poking comfortably (like a tank commander) through the sun roof. All of the other windows are lowered but for some reason the other dogs all want their heads out of the same one. Izzy has decided never to go again. She was unsettled the first time she went to the dog park and realized - along with much snarling and growling - that there are more dogs in the world other than her pack. That was not a good thing. She's not gone since and regards the whole effort as a complete waste of time. Except for the smells that are brought home later.
Let's fast forward to bed time as this is nearly as much fun for me as morning. I finish up late, too late to be the first person to hit the sack; which one must be to get pre-allocated room for the night. The room is, for the most part silent, as the dogs c--- sleepy ears listening to my approach. It is an indignant silence as they are convinced that I really should sleep on the sofa or at least on the floor; there's barely enough room for them as it is.
I agree. My wife however insists that I rest in the nuptial love nest (don't go there). Looking at the bed in the near darkness is to know despair. They and I know that there's no room. The fact is that there is no room. Somehow, slowly, with gentleness not for the pack but so as not to disturb my sweet love's rest, I slide in and lay claim to my six inches and pull what covers are left over one of my feet.
I gradually rest and relax listening to the sound of the sleeping canines. Maggie lets out a long sigh signaling her descent to the land of nod. I won't see her again until the early morning (3:30am) when she wakes me to go for a pee. I congratulate myself (too soon) that I have squeezed enough space out of the deal to lie on my back and I drift off to sleep.
I awake abruptly as Morris jumps up claws extended onto my by now badly bruised and familiar crotch. He lies on top of me stretching out his front claws, brushing my neck. He purrs gently; it's back-scratch time.
And, believe me; I'll know when he's done.