I write at night. Late, and sometimes until past midnight. To my little dog Bobby, it must appear a perfectly silly thing that I do when I take a seat and face a glowing screen. Turned toward the window, sitting still as the night outside, nothing moving but my fingers, quiet as a pair of shoes. My eyes fixed directly ahead. If Bobby knew the definition of catatonic stupor, maybe he’d think I’ve become stuck in one.
He began complaining a few weeks ago. Right at his bedtime. Say 10:30-ish.
He comes up beside my chair at the desk, and sits and looks at me. I cut my eyes away from the screen in front of me to glance at him. He stares at me. There’s this piercing amber light in his eyes, as though if I’d only look back at him deeply enough, with concentration and singular intention, then he would be able to cock his head and telepathically pose his question to me in English: “What the hell are you doing?”
He figures he’s got me where he wants me, so he goes on: “You take a seat in a chair facing away from me. To look at what, exactly? Nothing that I can smell.” But I don’t get it.
Enough with the Vulcan-mind-meld routine, he tries a little growl, some vocalizing. “Don’t be so selfish. You know it’s my bedtime. I need my snuggle. And you are doing nothing that counts for very much.” But I’m not translating well, and miss the message.
I think he’s asking for a pee break. I stop in the middle of a sentence, and we go outside into the dark where the snakes and wild things prowl. A possum or armadillo within a hundred yards has a chase to reckon with. Bobby does his business, and we come back inside.
But he’s soon at my side again, fussing at me. I fuss back. “What do you want?” We talk back and forth until he gets exasperated and stops whining. After some few nights, I finally catch on. But only after he gives up and jumps on the bed and looks at me with such sad eyes that something clicks and I understand in a flash that he wants me to stop working and come to bed. And I flat-out tell Bobby this will not work. “I write. I write at night. And it’s been this way since you came to live with me. So what’s changed, little pup? We need to switch things back.”
And Bobby gathers all his cuteness into one longing gaze, twists his head a little to the side, and wonders, “Can we compromise?” I get it loud and clear.
“What? How so?”
“Tuck me in, curl up beside me, get me to sleep. Then, get back up and write ‘til daybreak, for all I care.”
And when he adds, blinking twice, “Please?” Well, let’s just say I’m a sucker for polite and well-mannered, albeit pleading, puppy proposals. Even if Bobby does get a little smug when I also fall asleep myself.
(Click on the link below for a video sample of Bobby persuading me to come to bed with him.)