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RICH IN THOUGHT - Not Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie
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It’s bedtime at Villa Paloma and as I make my way upstairs after turning off the lights and ensuring doors are locked, comes the time where I need to make my claim on what’s left of the real estate on our California king as the TV flickers the nightly news.

One would think that a king-sized bed would be sufficient for Mrs. Rich and me, but with two Bernese mountain dogs along with one grumpy set-in-his-ways cat and two rescued feisty kittens, the pickings are slim when I eventually enter the room.

A survey from WebMD estimates that over half of the American population snuggles up with their fur babies on the bed and I happen to be in that group.

Most of the time I can stake my claim with a push here or a nudge there and be able to pull the covers up to my neck. They’ve learned there’s less chance of being disturbed or ordered “off” if they grab a piece of bed at the foot of the bed.

I’ve come to learn that it’s best for me to beat them to the bed and then invite the dogs up to at least create the illusion that I’m the Alpha male of the pack and in control.

While we’re still watching TV, I experience over 200 pounds of Bernese mountain dog making their way toward the center of the bed, snagging space in small increments, gradually taking the covers tucked underneath them, leaving me with a postage stamp sized portion of the covers with a strange paralysis of being unable to move my legs. A jealous dog can worm its way between a relaxing couple and, with the proper spring action from all four of his legs, shove a tranquil human to the floor.

At lights off, without having to go all Mommie Dearest on them to get them off the bed, they’ve learned to move to their appropriate places on the floor for the night.

If they were to stay, I’m sure I’d have some sort of spinal deformity from basing my sleeping position based on the location of one if not both of the dogs.

Dante and Gino – my two Berners – have learned that whenever my wife or I are out of town they get the option of occupying the space of the missing spouse and they’ve used it to their advantage. However at times this can be short lived because of the uncanny ability for a dog to double in size during the night. The bigger the dog, the deeper the sleep as the bed becomes a battleground with heavily breathing canines on their sides, sometimes their back, snoring or even waking you up with passed gas (That’s always a surprising smell to be woken up to where you’re thankful it’s only gas and not a “present” left on the carpet.)

The cats are another story.

The adult cat, and senior member of our pet family sporting 15+ years of loathing anyone else but himself and my wife, will claim his spot and leave no doubt that he’s staying there – including refuting any nudge, shove or push I may give. I think on the pet hierarchy of the bedroom, Dante and Gino, despite their gargantuan size, are too polite for confrontation and give in to the insistent claims of the feline chief.

With the two newcomers, the kittens that “miraculously appeared on our porch,” their nighttime habits can be annoying.

Things left where they can get them will be stolen, played with, or destroyed by morning even if the items are too big to be carried off.

When they do calm down, it can be particularly overwhelming if one of them insists on sleeping curled around your head like a demented Daniel Boone cap.

By morning, the pattering of kitten paws resonates along the bedroom carpet and tiled bathroom floor with an occasional run-over of the sleeping humans as the kittens are up and engaged in some form of rough-housing, chasing each other and waking the dogs.

I know it will be only a few groggy minutes until I come to a cold, wet-nosed realization that Dante wants out or back on the bed. If I ignore it, I will get a high pitched whine or even a bark as two chocolate eyes with cocked black triangular ears are in my face or I’ll receive the slap of an oversized white paw on an exposed limb.

Note: When the dog wakes, you do too.

No need to call Cesar Millan, I’ve got this under control. Regardless if it interferes with my beauty sleep or not, it’s all worth it from the joy they give.


Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.