A Dog Tired Dog Tail.

Written by

Andrew Millar


April 15, 2011

Our dog has decided not to sleep at night.

During the day? Fine. She flops on the paving and for all intents is dead to the world. Pigeons happily graze on her dog biscuit crumbs just inches from her face. And I swear one even landed on her the other day.

But at night. Nope.

And she's started to get spooked by everything. It used to be thunder storms. Now someone passes wind in Port Lincoln and her teeth start chattering like castanets and she shakes so that the loose skin on her body ripples – giving her a strange 'out of focus' appearance. This would cause her to run wildly in any direction… or every direction at once regardless of fences that might be in the way. So mild weather in the gulf started costing us heaps in vet bills as we stitched things back on that were torn off trying to get through gates that were not open.

Even inside she didn't settle. A closed door in the laundry shows the scars of a bit of wind on Kangaroo Island one night. A wooden blind was shredded by her being spooked by a down pour in the Clare Valley.

I has now reached the stage where she becomes fearful beyond reason when the paper is delivered next door.

As a last resort we took her to the vet for K9 Valium. And to a certain degree this works. She still wakes at 5am, 5.15, 5.30, 6 and 6.15. but at least now, not at 2, 2.15, 2.30 and so on.

The problem had no solution. (Actually we had one but I doubt if my daughter would ever speak to me again if I turned her dog into a hearth rug…)

So I spent some time trawling the internet. Quite clearly our approach to getting the Cloth-Eared Galoot to sleep through the night without disturbing us was not working. I went after the wisdom of the Elders… well, anyone who had an opinion and was prepared to post it on-line. So after an hour of searching 'Dog behaviour' and being diverted to photos of Russian Girls who'd do anything for you, I came away with two courses of action. 1) "Lavender Oil sprinkled on her rug will calm the inner dog by releasing tension within her chakras. That combined with the healing power of rose quartz will render the dog at one with sleep." (yeah right… ) and the Second approach? "Think like the leader of the Pack. What would the Alpha Male do if a pack member was getting out of line?" A lightbulb moment…

We'd been treating it like a child who would not sleep. We been trying to reason with her believing she'd understand our methods… Nope. It hadn't worked so far. And wasn't likely to. We were forgetting that she's a wild dog who accepts us as her pack. So deal with her as though she's a pack member, not a family member.

So at 4.45 when I am woken to find a dog, eyes glazed over in a narcotic stare, front legs hooked over the child gate we thought might keep her in the laundry. Leaning over the gate like this makes her front legs stick straight, out giving her the appearance of a tranced sleep walker, but with 20 cm of dripping pink dog tongue hanging to one side… and her rear legs searching for the rungs of a ladder that will set her free, only the ladder isn't there. So looks like someone miming 'The Cyclist'… And I go into Alpha Male Dog mode… I growl, I bark, I growl some more… I make it quite plain in the most guttural of noises that I am not pleased and she needs to go to bed now… and I motion to the makeshift kennel we've set up for her in the laundry by draping an old bedspread over the built-in ironing board…. I make all sorts of loud, threatening, very angry dog noises. And she slinks off to bed… head and tail between her legs… full on submissive pose…

Lights off… Door shut…. Job done…I win.

And I return to bed to find wife covered in shaking blankets suppressing laughter by stuffing the major part of a pillow in her mouth…

"Did that sound a bit strange?" I ask.

"Yes" is the muffled answer…

"I hope the neighbours didn't hear."

"No. But they'll hear about it, when I tell them." She giggles herself back to sleep until 7.30… not a peep from the dog…

I guess public embarrassment is fiddling small change compared to the luxury of 2 hours extra sleep…

(Moral: Think like a customer. Not like a corporation.)