The winds brought her howling and moaning to the bottom of the stairs where her powerful claws scraped aside the wallboard to rush up the stairs so she could howl and moan at the baby gate. Her first visit occurred somewhere between 12:30 and 1:00am, and it felt like I had just fallen into a nice, comfortable sleep. My husband hustled her back down the stairs, re-secured the “gates,” two or three times. The entire household now wide awake, except the 12 yr. old who had taken some Melatonin and was sleeping soundly like we all should have been.
The hound would not give up though, she was terrified. Who knew what horrors she had lived through in the first three years of her life, roaming the streets of the south. Tornadoes, hurricanes…my mind was going to all corners of possibility as I pulled on my exercise pants, grabbed my pillow and made my way down the stairs.
“Don’t stay with her, she’ll just get used to it,” my husband warned, calling forth words used long ago when our youngest used to be terrified at night. I took his advice, as I once had, trying to assuage her fears, then, after creeping back up the stairs with her scrambling after me twice, I gave in. Just like I had 8 years before.
First we tried to nestle onto the couch, but after lying awake for about 1.5 hrs, I decided to pull it out into the bed hidden beneath its cushions. Still shaking like a terrified child, my companion for the remainder of the night finally settled into the nook of my folded legs and fell into a snoring slumber.
Just as sleep began to descend upon my lids, the guinea pig decided it was meal time. At around 3:00am, I found myself, once again, wide awake, listening to “Kisses” vigorously lapping the metal ball of her water bottle for what felt like an eternity. She stopped, briefly, then began again. Two more times.
I thought of putting her in the basement, with the cat that was now howling, cage and all, or taking away her water source for the remainder of the night. Would that be considered animal cruelty, I wondered? I can certainly make it through a night without drinking.
But, as the wind howled outside, and my canine companion’s breathing body of warmth was nestled happily beside me, my thoughts turned to how lucky I am. I have a home after all, and a bed to sleep in, even if it was, at that moment, a pulled out couch with no sheets and not enough blankets. I have shelter and comfort. I had love, pure, unconditional love, snuggled beside me, and I felt full and content. Some nights, 3 hrs of total sleep is enough. Especially when you’ve got a home filled with love.