We are all delicate flowers who yearn to be loved for who we are, to be acknowledged for our kindnesses; and through our charming bedtime routines of consent and accommodation, many of us have found it...with our animals.
A very long time ago I started a relationship with a grey haired male who was so enamoured with me (what girl could resist?) that at night he jumped right up on the pillow next to me.
Years worth of grey hair on a cat-hair magnet blanket The Cover-Up later, another male showed up, this one... without a tail. We moved in together and, to my amazement, the cat-allergic person took in stride, Mr. Finn's place on my pillow, The king sized bed probably helped.
One of those relationships did not last. The deeper relevance of this common statistic may be one of the reasons we so gratefully share our beds with our uncomplicated animal-family members.
It is our language we have with them; we love them enough to let them take over vast parts of our beds and pillows. We love them so much, we literally clean up their poop. Do these offerings, or the 'feelings of being pinned in by the sleeping animals around us', tell them anything?
Recently, I asked quite a number of people, who very graciously allowed me that indulgence, a few questions about their sleeping routines with their pets;
1) When they were growing up, were their pets allowed to sleep on people's beds?
2) As adults, do they let their animal companions sleep with them in their beds?
3) ...and finally, I asked their guess as to the overall percentage of pets that slept with people in their beds, 50-80% or over 90%?
You'll find the results at the end of this post.
I also requested, and received, many bedtime stories:
Our pets distract us from our nighttime circular thoughts, circular thoughts, circular thoughts. Animals are our supportive adorers who also keep us from falling asleep "until their sweet purring finishes, sometimes, not until 15 minutes to half an hour after we've stopped petting their soft fur." There should be a study carried out toward understanding that kind of lingering of felicity.
Our beds are veritable gathering places for anything with legs; dogs and cats and people oh yes!
Overwhelmingly it is we, the ones who went out and bought the beds, who willingly train ourselves to be satisfied with a sliver of a bed edge, or with the featherless, flat lower or side portions of the pillow that used to be ours that we now fluff for them.
We induce our bodies into motionlessness so the animals at our feet or those taking up the majority of our beds aren't disturbed. At least among cat owners, we sacrifice our feet as nighttime game, I mean hunting-game. Dogs kick us in their sleep and still, we happily tolerate it. Our cats, and dogs pretty much decide where, when and if we will sleep.
Still we add electric blankets to ensure their utmost comfort and act like their personal elevator and concierge.
A nurse has fed and helped many abandoned, newborn kittens, and heartbreakingly, held dying animals on her bed.
To conserve heat during 'medieval times' (1300's) peasants regularly slept in the same building as the animals that worked on their farms.
Even now, we can find vacation rentals where we can sleep in the same room as horses and cows.
I have to wonder how the animals feel about strangers revolving through their bedrooms.
How did the collected data to my questions play out?
19 people offered answers:
1) The percentage of us who grew up not with animals sleeping on our beds? 47%
All, except 1 of those people, were over 50 years old.
The percentage of us who grew up with animals sleeping on our beds? 53%
Showing a growing societal trend over time toward animals sleeping on beds.
2) The percentage of us who, now as adults, sleep with animals on our beds? 89%
Only 2 people out of 19 prefer to have that bed to themselves.
3) Do you guess that 50-80% or over 90% of people sleep with pets on their beds?
89% of you guessed 50-80%
2 people (11%) guessed 90%
33% of us found our beloved animal companions, literally, on the street as ferals or homeless animals. Only 3 of us had purchased a pet from a breeder.
As humans go, our compassion, empathy and love for living things:
all animals, our partner (yes, even exes), children, aged parents, siblings, friends, and the earth, surpasses everything, even the requirement to make money, (an unfortunate societal morphing).
Our positive feelings about ourselves are confirmed when we do good things for others; we feel good, appreciated and loved when offering our acts of acquiescence to those animal-shaped vessels of contentment and exuberance.
The trend toward accepting relationships with our animal companions as the primary substitute to relationships with a human seems to be growing.
The luckiest of us have learned to translate that same acceptance of others and giving of ourselves to our partners, families and friends.
If our pets could talk, if they made it a more reciprocal relationship, if as an example, they offered their opinions about the same old food placed in front of them, would we, over time, be less inclined to be so breezily generous?
Because even though we don't hear them saying it, here's the thing, they are thinking 'man, this is the same old food again.'
In part, we love our pets for their simplistic forms of communication.
Humans' ability to vocalize is a double-edged sword. All those utterances, poor translations of feelings, the ramblings, layers omitted, the throw-away comments that only we know didn't mean we don't love and appreciate the other person, should require lengthy summaries and articulations.
Would a combination of vulnerable syllables with a sprinkling of sympathy lead to more fluffed bed pillows from our partners? ....100% yes.
Thank you reading this post, my hope is that we all work toward more love and better kibble.
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