Shamus, our adopted Newfoundland, turned 3 this year and we missed it. We totally missed it. We could blame our long history with rescue dogs who, with unknown backgrounds, give little cause for birthday celebration. Truth be told, I blame the Newf. He simply slept through it.
Shamus has much to learn in the ways and means of hint-dropping. I, for instance, strategically place ads for lawn furniture on the dinner table or say out loud, in April, that I’d like a bird bath for my birthday… in October. It seems Shamus slept through these invaluable lessons, missing the chance to tell us how best to celebrate. Or did he? Based on the various day to day nappings he’s scattered throughout the house, I suspect the only thing he wanted for his birthday was that very thing – a long, comfortable, uninterrupted nap.
PERFECTING THE NAP: A YEAR IN RETROSPECT
Getting A Leg (or Four) Up
Last year on his birthday, Shamus woke us in his usual way, sticking his fuzzy, black muzzle in our sleeping mugs at the side of the bed. He had lived with us just two weeks at that point. From what we could gather, Shamus was not allowed on the furniture with his previous family. Although it would have been great fun to let him up, we initially thought it best to capitalize on rules that Shamus already knew. March was a very muddy month, after all.
Being the first to get “faced” that morning, I scratched Shamus’ head, wished him a happy birthday and closed my eyes. Tim, sensing my grog, called Shamus to his side of the bed. The rest is a blur.
Shamus, coming to his new papa, lept from a seated position on the floor, launched over me, cleared the cat sleeping on my chest and landed squarely in the middle of our King sized bed with the thud of an elephant shot from a very large canon. My eyes met Tim’s. A look of horror hung on my face. Disbelief washed over his. We lay there frozen, the four of us. As I finally exhaled with the relief of being alive – not crushed, bruised or broken – Tim and I let loose a stream of laughter that echoed across the hillside. The cat resumed purring and Shamus, sensing our joy, rested his head between us and closed his eyes.
“Happy birthday, buddy. Welcome to your new bed.”
Upping the Anti
It took Shamus 3 weeks to acclimate to his own overstuffed dog bed. I suspect he filed it under furniture and thought it was taboo. It wasn’t until the cat curled in purring contentedly that he gave it a whirl.
Shamus’ first landing was a bit rough. After circling, circling, circling, he finally dropped. His rear end landed comfortably on center. His head, neck and shoulders missed. It took 2 more attempts before he had it down. Then, of course, the cat kicked him out.
The Final Leap
Once the spring weather dried out, Tim invited Shamus to lay on the couch. Shamus held back in disbelief. When he did climb up, he looked awkward, uncomfortable and got down almost immediately. While he eventually learned to like it, he insists upon issuance of a formal invitation. In fact, he requires one for nightly bed access as well.
That said, it was a mystery as to why the sun porch couch pillows were found on the floor every morning. In an email exchange with Shamus’ former family, I learned that this happened in their house too. In the span of his entire life, nobody ever saw the Newf on the furniture, at least not uninvited. So what’s with the pillows?
I put a sheet on the sun porch couch, which seemed to quell Shamus’ need for permission to lay there, but then a new phenomenon occurred. The back cushions were tipped each morning, each laying on the seat cushions. It wasn’t until 2 weeks ago that I caught him laying on top of the combined layers perched about 4 feet in the air. Looking back, I now realize that day was his birthday.
Happy birthday, pal. I’m glad you managed to get your long, comfortable, uninterrupted nap after all. And you couldn’t have been fluffed any higher, my sweet prince.
PS: Our only regret with bed allowance is the laundry bill. Our dry cleaner recently pulled our over-sized comforter from her over-sized washing machine and performed Last Rights. Handing it back in a sad shroud of plastic, she said, “I’m sorry. We did all we could do.” I’m pretty sure this is why duvets were invented, and why we now have one.