When I asked where Yasmine would sleep while we dog-sat her, my sister-in-law who lives in Germany looked at me in the same way the pug does; her eyes bugged out.
Then she shrugged her shoulders, spread her hands wide, and delivered the only answer that could keep this newly arrived animal from hellish nightmares: Yasmine sleeps on people.
Not near people. Not next to people. Not on the floor on a round cushion. Yasmine sleeps on top of whoever is conveniently sprawled on a queen or preferably pillow-topped king-sized bed with a four-poster mahogany frame.
Since Raybo and I already have a cat that sleeps on people, I wasn’t surprised this animal enjoyed a warm, lumpy body. But I couldn’t imagine how one old cat and one perky pug could sleep on top of each other then sleep on top of us. We would be stacked like a layered vegetable torte, bound to each other with eye drool, fur and hair balls.
If we were on the bottom we wouldn’t sleep a wink. If the aging cat was the next layer, he’d probably heave his last breath when the dog came aboard. If the pug finished the deal -- a living, breathing jack-in-the-box -- the chance of this group staying in one uniform slab was as likely as cheese lasagna.
I looked at my husband’s sister and was instantly stifled. She had that far-away look in-laws get when they realize their relative has married someone less smart, attractive or worthwhile than they are. If I didn’t give in, this would be the new story they’d dredge up when hunched around a table bored with each other. She and her German dog stared cold into my eyes.
The nerve of some species.
In a moment of forced compromise, my husband and I agreed we would sleep in two separate rooms on two separate floors each with a 15-pound weight on our chest.
May the best meowing, snorting pair win the battle for a decent night’s rest.
This is what I quickly learned about pugs: In addition to snorting, sniffing and shedding, they snore worse than seven Rhodesian Ridgebacks. I don’t mean occasional snoring or a consistent low hum; I mean violent fits and starts that make you think the dog will give birth to a construction site.
Once she cozied up to my face, I realized the night would be about one of two things: Either I’d listen to her oink and grunt, or push her like a tugboat to make her stop. She’d spend the night dreaming about German wiener schnitzel and I’d be ready to wrap the sausage around my neck.
Shocked that so far from home she was sleeping like a baby while me in my own home wasn’t sleeping at all, I decided to simply stare at her. I hoped the energy of a dark presence would make her move away, just a little.
First her ears perked up. Then her ears went back. Then she moved -- on her very own -- and positioned herself a good three inches away with her head turned in the opposite direction. She was quiet.
I tried to figure her out.
She was a stalker, but didn’t want to be stalked. She was a sleeper, but didn’t let other people sleep. She was a funny buffoon -- pugs are known as the clowns of the dog world -- she could make you laugh just looking at her. But her sense of humor was fickle: She hated her dog halter, loved only designer water, and demanded enough apple chunks to keep the doctor away for a decade.
After a single burst of quiet, her motor revved again and a night under the cat suddenly looked quite comfy. When I made my husband switch, I was accused of blowing things way out of proportion. It was even suggested as a vegetarian, I secretly wanted to eat the weiner schnitzel Yasmine was dreaming about.
So I exaggerated, a little. The way I see it, you have to throw a couple of pies, toot a couple of horns, and create a bit of a sideshow -- with the help of a sweet out-of-town clown – to earn some serious paybacks from the in-laws.
May 16, 2013