Kevin and I are in agreement when it comes to our parenting philosophy—we occupy that middle ground between helicopter parenting and free range parenting. But the rules differ when it comes to Galen. I spoil her, and Kevin, well, he grudgingly lets me, even when doing so leaves him lacking one of humankind’s most basic needs: a good night’s sleep.
You see, Kevin claims there is a causal relationship between his lack of sleep and our four-year-old pup’s presence on our bed. Perhaps, but for as long as I’ve known Kevin—almost two decades—he’s been a poor sleeper. I will concede, however, that having fifty-eight pounds of sacked-out dog inhibiting him from tossing and turning doesn’t serve his cause—though I gather all that tossing and turning doesn’t either. (I, on the other hand, rather enjoy when Galen presses her furry self up against me as if I were one of her littermates.)
The irony of our situation is that Galen is only on the bed because one night, when she was a puppy, Kevin got lazy. Initially, Galen would hang with us, on the bed, until lights out. Then we would put her in what we called her “jail”—a metal pen at the foot of the bed that surrounded a large, comfortable dog bed. (I’m confident in its creature comfort because Gryffin slept on it for years—by choice.)
One night, when Galen was about a year old and I was out of town, Kevin was so exhausted he didn’t jail her.
You know what happened next.
No amount of American cheese could lure Galen back into her pen, and if we picked her up and placed her in it, she whined … and whined. So we did what we’d never done when our daughters cried in their cribs—we gave in.
Of course, we’re not alone in our habit of canine co-sleeping—several recent studies have found that nearly 50 percent of dog owners sleep with their four-legged friend–and Kevin isn’t alone in bemoaning its negative effects. Indeed, according to a study presented at last year’s annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, 30 percent of co-sleepers reported being awakened by their dog at least once a night, 63 percent reported their sleep quality suffered, and 5 percent said they had trouble falling back to sleep once awake.
Still, as Bill Barol writes in Why It’s So Wrong—But So Right—To Sleep With Your Pets, many sleep-deprived dog owners, like himself, choose deprivation over kicking their pet out of bed. His take on why: “Dogs are the greatest human-manipulators on the planet.”
I’d agree, as would Kevin. Many times I’ve heard him refer to Galen—lovingly, mind you, perhaps even admiringly—as a “manipulative little b*tch.” It’s his term of endearment for the girl who curls up beside him, and between us, each and every night.