The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : It's Me or the Dog The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : It's Me or the Dog

Monday, May 4, 2015

It's Me or the Dog

The night my girlfriend discovered she wouldn’t be my only bedfellow, she was baffled. “Where I come from, you only sleep with a dog in your bed if you’re single, or your central heating is broken,” she said upon finding Whisky, my 15-pound terrier-spaniel mix, settled in comfortably for the night, her head resting daintily on my pillow.

But this was a nascent long-distance relationship, and she had just flown more than 5,000 miles from London to Los Angeles to see me, so she let it slide.

Since then, and even though she now adores Whisky (or claims to), she insists that “normal people” don’t share their beds with dogs. After she pointed out — while prying her expensive-looking jacket from beneath a snoring Whisky — that my canine companion seemed perfectly content to sleep almost anywhere, I began to question it myself.

Am I the unreasonable party? Who’s really deciding where Whisky sleeps, me or the dog? My girlfriend is British; I wondered if allowing one’s dog to share one’s duvet is a distinctly American custom, like Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl.

“Don’t get me wrong,” she said one afternoon. “It’s very attractive to me that you’re able to care for another living being. I love that. But it’s a step too far. It’s like having another person in the bed.”

The practice of sharing one’s bed with a dog, I discovered, is hardly modern. In “Cynegeticus,” a treatise on hunting, the ancient Greek historian Arrian of Nicomedia wrote, “There is nothing like a soft warm bed for greyhounds; but it is best for them to sleep with men — as they become thereby affectionately attached — pleased with the contact of the human body.”

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