Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mr. Big has a problem

     Mr. Big has a problem. He has become addicted to the old westerns my father watches late at night, and now he won't come to bed. He used to always scamper up the steps whenever Sissey and I headed up for the evening, making sure he could claim his territory before anyone else moved in.  Usually, he slept with me, but sometimes he liked to visit Sissey and sleep on her genuine faux mink blanket. I think it reminded him of Sugar Pie, although the genuine faux mink is blonde, and Sugar is platinum.  Anyway,  wherever he decided to settle down for the night, he always came with us and never missed bedtime.
    The first time he missed bedtime, I thought he was just waiting to take one last trip outside to visit his special little bush before turning in for the night. Thinking he would be up as soon as his mission was accomplished, I hopped into bed and quickly drifted off to sleep.  Around 2:00 a.m., Biggie announced his arrival at the bedside with his single, high pitched "woof." I scooped him up, let him spin around three times to get settled, and went back to sleep. 
     Several nights later, it happened again. Biggie didn't come up to bed with us, even when I called for him. After a few "Come on, Biggie" commands hollered down the stairs with no response, I shrugged it off and fell asleep. Sure enough, at 2:00 a.m. he arrived with a  "woof,"  ready to be airlifted into bed.
    It soon became a regular pattern. Night after night, Sissey and I would start up to bed, I'd call Biggie, and he wouldn't come. We'd go on, off to our seperate rooms, and  fall asleep. Around 2:00 a.m., Biggie would arrive and wake me up with his coloratura "woof."  I'd haul him up into bed, he'd do his triple spin, and we'd soon all start snoring.
     The next morning, however, when we had to get up for classes, Mr. Big would not want to get out of bed. I'd have to shake him awake, haul the comatose poodle down the steps, and force him to go outside to complete his toiletries before we left for school. He'd be grumpy, I'd be grumpy, and heaven knows in the morning, Sissey was going to be grumpy.
    This couldn't continue.  The next time he didn't come up for bed, I stomped back down stairs to get him. I was tired of being waked at 2:00 each morning, and was going to put an end to that routine. We had class early the next day, and I needed to get my full allotment of REM sleep.  I wasn't sure what was detaining him each night but was determined it would be the last time it happened.
     First, I looked all over the kitchen, thinking he was secretly raiding the pantry, but Biggie was nowhere in sight. I checked the dining room, the living room, the hall. No Mr. Big. Finally, I headed to the den. He was perched on a pillow on the floor, eyes glued to the television set, in a trance. Beside him was my dad, stretched out in his recliner, eyes glued to the television set, in a trance. The two of them were watching John Wayne duke it out with a drunken cowboy over some stolen guns that were buried in the desert.  Neither one of them even looked up when I entered the room.  They were too busy helping the Duke knock out the bad guys, round up some horses, kiss a few pretty saloon dancers, get into a bar fight, and rescue a family from a burning farmhouse.  Two sets of eyes, one human, one canine, were tracking every move on that screen, not missing a beat.
    No wonder he didn't want to come to bed.  He wasn't about to leave until the last punch was thrown. Besides, who could sleep when all that action was taking place right underneath your bedroom? I gave a little snap of my fingers for him to come, knew he heard me by the way his ears twitched, but he didn't budge.
  "Biggie, come on, it's bedtime."
    I spoke sternly, in my "I mean it" voice, but he didn't even glance up at me.  I couldn't believe he was ignoring me. He was so mesmerized by the action on the big screen that a plate full of liver and pig's ears wouldn't have gotten his attention.  I did manage to get a glare out of my dad, signaling that I was interupting their movie. I was miffed, but left both of them there with the Duke, and stomped back up to bed.  When he arrived at 2:00 a.m., I ignored him. He "woofed" and "arfed" and cried, but I gave him a taste of his own medicine and ignored him. He spent a cold, lonely night on the floor.
      The next night, I didn't even call him to come.  I knew he wasn't budging, and I wasn't even going to try.  I marched right up stairs without so much as a "Goodnight", shut my bedroom door, and went to bed.  He could "woof" all he wanted to at 2:00 a.m., but this cowgirl wasn't going to open that door if it was John Wayne himself out there begging to get in. 
       It's not that I mind Biggie watching westerns, it's just that I mind how it makes him behave the next day.  He's tired, and irritable, and snappish.  He doesn't want to get up after his late night entertainment. He has disrupted his circadian rhythms, his sleep cycle is off, and it is affecting his personality.  It's affecting my personality. It's affecting Sissey's as well. We have morning classes every day of the week.  We do not operate well on a shortened sleep cycle. We can only take naps on Sundays, unlike some people and canines we will not mention by name that get to sleep all day while we are laboring away at college.
     So Biggie is going to lose his TV privileges for a while, until he has been through TV detox and western withdrawals.  It will be hard and painful, but I am committed to helping him get through this. He will cry; he will beg; he will pout; but I am going to be strong for him and keep him away from all cowboys, horses, and pretty saloon girls.  It is for his own good, and one day, he will thank me for it.
      As for the other person we will not mention by name that stays up all night watching westerns and is tired, irritable, and snappish the next morning,  I am going to let my brother, the Psychiatrist, handle that one. He is, after all, the Golden Haired Boy, the only son, the medical doctor, trained in the intricate workings of the inner mind and personality, adept in cognitive therapies of all kinds, master of classical conditioning and trained responses,  and the only one that can get anywhere with some people. I've done all I can do, I can barely train a dog,  and now, I'm going to bed.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this sooo much!!! It really made my day!!! I hope you write a book based on your blogs someday, I would be one of the 1st to buy it!