For the last several years, I’ve been subject to a nightly 2 a.m. wakeup call. This is something I thought would end when my children got old enough to sleep through the night. It did not.
Each night, a snuffling beagle or two would wander to the side of my bed. Their toenails clicked on the hardwood and their wagging tails thumped the dresser as they stood, breathing noisily, waiting for me to sleepily haul myself out of bed and let them out. They trained me to do this utilizing Love and Logic techniques. If I did not get up, the logical consequence was for me to clean their messes from the floor in the morning. Easy peasy, and it worked. They continued my training until I showed nearly a 100 percent compliance rate with their demands.
As time went on, I began to suspect that their urgency to get outside had less to do with the need to potty and perhaps more to do with some business they needed to tend to. On the nights when the moon was bright enough for me to see their activities, I’d see them first run a perimeter check, during which they would chase all rabbits to the other side of the fence. They’d then go check the compost pile to see if they could find a delicious egg shell or rotten squash skin to nosh on. From there, they’d wander to the middle of the yard to stare vacantly at the moon. Eventually, the neighbor’s cat or a transient opossum would wander by, causing them to bark frantically. This was my cue to holler out the door that they had to come inside.
Recently, they’ve lost all sense of decorum.
I’d hear the tapping feet, then the tail whapping against the dresser, then the stinky panting.
“Mommy?” they would say, “Um, wake up. Hi. Wake up. I need you to open the door for me. I think I hear a squirrel snoring — I need to check that out. And I want to make sure my bone is still in the corner where I put it.”
I’d get up, pull on my robe and trudge to the door.
“Oh, by the way,” the dogs would call to me over my shoulder, “watch where you step. I just pooped on the floor.
I’d slide open the door, and they’d add, “…and I peed on the door mat. Just F.Y.I.”
And out they’d go for a romp.
Or sometimes, they’d simply not mention it to me and in the morning we’d be greeted with chocolate-colored blobs. Or both.
They were out of control.
A kennel seemed a simple solution, but we have no great place to put one.
Then, one glorious day, my husband sent me a Craigslist ad — a guy who makes kennels in his free time. The bonus? They look like furniture. He quickly built a custom-sized one for us — a double-wide for two beagles — and we brought it home.
Is it the novelty of it? A memory from their mysterious home life prior to being abandoned at the animal shelter where we adopted them? I don’t know, but our immoral dogs love their new house. Every night, I tell them to go to bed, and they pile into our new dog kennel/coffee table in the middle of our living room. And they sleep all night without a peep. Or a poop.
I, however, must be an old dog, and I’m struggling to learn a new trick — the trick of sleeping through the night.
Overland Park mom Emily Parnell writes alternate weeks. Reach her at email@example.com. On Twitter: @emilyjparnell