Thursday, April 19, 2007

I love him, I love him not

This week has taken a steady nosedive for me, a me who is increasingly cranky, irritable and exhausted, and I'm pretty certain I know the reason why. And that reason has four legs, a corkscrew tail, and a penchant for planting slobbery kisses all over my face at 4 a.m.

I don't understand where it all went wrong. Chickenbone used to be just the best dog ever at night. So cuddly and quiet, sweetly sleeping in my arms until the morning alarm. He even does this adorable thing where he lays his head on my pillow, with the covers pulled up to his shoulders like some sort of hairy 13-inch human being. Often when I come home from running in the morning, I find him still sleeping exactly like that, side by side with Sal, the world's oddest couple snoring in unison.

But this week Chickens evidently decided that the middle of the night is no longer the best time to sleep. It is, in fact, the PERFECT time to play. So he tries to wake me up, first by using his voice. He has learned how to do this long, low, and slightly creepy rumble from deep down his throat that really scares the shit out of a person when they are in a dead sleep:


He takes a deep breath, and then it comes a little louder:


He tries several more times, laying there with his wet nose two inches from mine. I watch him with my eyes half-closed, because I want him to think it's not working. And this little standoff really would be comical, if it didn't make me want to stuff rags into his mouth.

When the noise doesn't do the trick, he gets physical, slowly raising one outstretched paw and placing it on my face. The movement is sweet and gentle, almost like he wants to lovingly stroke my cheek and lull me back to sleep. Except then claws sink into my skin and he swiftly rakes them downward, as if to shout, "HEY! WHITE GIRL! Did you NOT hear me telling you to wake up?!?!" And this really is painful, so at this point I open my eyes and smack him, hissing "NO! BAD CHICKENS! Very, VERY bad!" He replies by scratching my cheek again. I smack him. He scratches me. I smack. He scratches. He finds this game to be hilarious.

When I finally get pissed off enough to roll over and face the other way, he either (a) turns in the other direction and repeats the entire process with dad, or (b) hops off the bed and goes to the living room, where he sits in the middle of the floor and barks. The first time this happened, we leaped up and went out there to investigate. Oh, the benefit of the doubt we gave that hairy brat! "What is it, Chickens?!" we asked excitedly. "Do you hear burglars, boy? Perhaps some sort of domestic dispute? Maybe you have to poop? What is it, boy?! What?" But on nights two and three, I started to realize it was all part of the evil game. The game of Look At All The Fun We Can Have Chasing Each Other In The Dark!

Last night we wised up and resorted to something we haven't used since we crate-trained him: The Shaker. We learned about The Shaker from our PetSmart trainer. She taught us to put a handful of coins in a container, and rattle it wildly when Chickens starts a barking fit. It freaks him out, like there's some sort of scary noise-monster out there that will swoop down and eat him alive, so he hunkers down and gets real, real quiet. So last night when he started barking in the living room again, we shook our ASSES off. Sure enough, he got totally scared and came creeping back to the safety of the bed, where he snuggled down in the covers and went back to sleep. I don't know how we'll cope if The Shaker ever stops working, but I don't think buying a chainsaw is out of the question.

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