This is a story that actually took place in February 2012 or so. I’m reposting it here because I think it’s a good follow up to explaining why I enjoy spending time with the Charlie dog so much.
I had just gotten my dog Charlie about 3 weeks before I found out I had to get spinal surgery. At the time he was 5 months old and a rescue (ran away and was picked up by a shelter and subsequently adopted by yours truly). Post surgery I was having terrible pain to the point where they needed pain management to get involved. I am not normally a prescription drug user and I have a very high tolerance for pain, but I had a whole assortment of drugs to try to deal with this level of pain.
It had gotten so bad that I was having trouble sleeping and therefore my body couldn’t properly recover and the doctors were getting concerned. So pain management prescribed a few new meds along with increasing the doses of the current ones. Needless to say that even though I trusted the doctors, I was actually really scared to take all the new pills and (try to) go to sleep. In retrospect, I probably should have had someone come and watch me, but hindsight is always 20/20.
So I turned to Charlie after taking the pills and sarcastically said something like, “If I don’t wake up, just start barking, someone will come get you.” I laid down in bed flat on my back and waited for the medicine to kick in and the pain to subside enough for me to fall asleep. Charlie normally sleeps on the floor next to the bed. But that night, not only did he get in the bed with me for the first time (which he is always allowed to do anyway), but he put one paw on my wrist and laid his head down on my shoulder with his nose pointing up towards my mouth so (I’m assuming) he could smell my breath. I thought this was a little weird considering he normally sleeps on the ground but I initially didn’t think much of it.
As the medicine started to kick in and the pain actually did subside a bit (for the first time post surgery), I started to relax a little and dose off. Every little movement I made, his head would pop up, smell my breath, and then drop back down gently on my shoulder. I noticed him doing this a few times before I finally fell asleep for good. I don’t think he went to sleep that night. I was actually able to sleep for about 6 hours (until the medicine wore off) and when I woke up he was still awake in the same position with his paw on my wrist and nose near my mouth smelling my breath. I sat up and got out of bed and went in to the other room to the couch. He walked with me right at my side. Then when I sat down on the couch, he walked over to the dog bed, plopped down and went right to sleep. He slept for literally about 3 hours straight without moving. I haven’t seen him sleep for more than about 45 minutes at a time since.
I don’t know why he decided to do any of that and he certainly hasn’t done anything like it since (though he does share the bed with me from time to time). I am not even entirely sure he stayed next to me the whole time (though I would like to believe he did). I just know he was there when I went to sleep and there in the exact same spot when I awoke. A little over a year later, he still comes to check on me every night before settling in on the floor or in his dog bed (or occasionally my bed). But I genuinely feel like he was keeping watch over me that night.
Originally posted on Quora here on June 5, 2013.