Playing Possum

If you are not from the South, you may know this critter we know as the possum as an “Opossum.” And, if you don’t know much about possums, one of their main defenses when frightened is to play dead – and hope they will be left alone. Sometimes this is a good plan, and other times – say they hear a car coming – it is not such a good plan. Running away would be a better plan. But, at least now they don’t have to ”play” dead! How does this tie into Shine’s blog? Well, apparently “someone” in my household has been watching Animal Planet or National Geographic and has learned a bit about possums too!

Now you’ve also probably heard some of the old adages such as: “Don’t make waves;” “Don’t rattle the cage;” and “Let sleeping dogs lie” (or is it lay?). Oh well, whichever, the dogs in my household expect you (and most importantly me) to take that last one quite literally.

Somewhere along the way an unspoken rule was made and mutually agreed upon (by the dogs) that if you are a “sleeping” dog – you have the right to stay right where you are no matter who is coming and going. Of course it is an unspoken rule. Dog’s don’t talk! But they sure can manipulate without any words can’t they! Anyway, this particular rule seems to be most true on “my” bed. I have to make sure you know it is MY bed, as I’m not sure everyone else in the household understands that! I have “dog” beds all through the house and several in the bedroom. We are currently a 6 dog household: 3 border collies, 2 shelties, and one rather small Parson’s Russell Terrier! Any given night there may be anywhere from 1 to 6 dogs in bed with me in MY bed for all or part of the night. Any given night you will NEVER find me in one of the dog’s beds – however sometimes it would be a lot less crowded!

Typically, there are only 1 to 3 dogs in MY bed (always Shine, frequently a border collie and/or a sheltie…) However, if there is a thunderstorm – it is almost guaranteed to have 6 dogs plus me! There seems to be a direct correlation between thunderstorms and a desire to be on my bed! Anyhow, there is no apparent “pecking order” for any of the bodies on the bed. But if any of them occupy a spot – they expect you to play by the rules. If they choose to move – then their spot is up for grabs to anyone – including me. Oh, also part of that sleeping dog rule is the definition that if your eyes are shut – you are officially “asleep.” So, while I am obviously the human – and lord and master of the household (at least most of the time….okay….some of the time….okay, once I remember I got my way) For the peace of the household, I usually go along with these silly rules. Therefore it is first come – first served, and if I can get a good spot in MY bed early, I may get a decent night’s sleep! If I am a bit slow, however, I am usually left with just enough room for about half of me – or to fit into the space left I would have to lay at a weird and unnatural angle.

Instead of fighting for space – or pulling rank (who am I fooling? – certainly not the dogs…) I have learned to work the system and use my strengths (my brain) against their weakness (love of food – actually that’s my weakness too!) So, I fake them out! Yes, that is fair. They are all so greedy and afraid someone will get something they won’t that I’ve found if I toss a few pieces of kibble in the den (opposite direction of the bedroom) they’ll all scramble – and while they are frantically searching for any pieces that may have rolled under a chair or gotten under the couch, I am able to slip into the bedroom and slide in and even adjust the covers before the troops arrive.

First to arrive, back to the bedroom is generally Shine, who takes her place on the pillow on the passenger side (the best spot after my pillow) . If Allie (border collie) happens to beat her to it, Shine snuggles between me and Allie – a little below the pillow. Occasionally (but not often) Shine has to take 3rd choice – usually because a piece of kibble did go under the couch – and she is the only one small enough to get it. The others know this and head for the bedroom! Anyway, all is well and we drift into peaceful sleep. This plan has worked for several weeks, but I’m thinking the dogs may be getting wise to me so I’m trying to think up a new trick. Let me know if you have any good ideas!

shine-sleepingOccasionally, after we are settled, a dog may get on or off the bed, for one reason or another, and there may be some switching around among border collies and shelties (and sometimes me!) But, one thing you can count on is that when Shine lays down, she is going to stay – unless she can upgrade. So, if I get off the bed – for one reason or another – upon my return I find a Chinese fire drill has taken place and several bodies are in different places than when I left – and “someone” has upgraded to my pillow – and is sleeping soundly (remember the rules – I can’t move her) Now, I cannot believe that ”someone” can fall asleep that quickly and that soundly, so I know that someone is playing possum – so I have to bend the rules a bit. But, it is hard to prove, since I can say in a rather loud voice: “Okay, you are going to have to move!” with absolutely no response – not even a flutter of an eyelid. Not only that, but no one else on the bed flutters an eyelid – except me – or maybe that is a nervous tic due to stress and lack of sleep! I find it very hard to believe they can’t hear me standing over them talking – when they can hear the slightest rattle of a baggie from the far end of the house… Anyway, this is how “sound” asleep the possum…uh I mean Shine is. You can actually slide your hands under her and pick her up like a sleeping child (or a dead cat) and she is limp and keeps her eyes closed!!!! If there is an empty spot on the bed, you can set her down and she’ll give a little sign and she is out like a light – still without ever opening her eyes. But, according to the rules, if there are no spots left, I am left holding a limp little “sleeping” possum. What to do?

There are 3 choices that have worked somewhat in the past – all of them just fine with Shine – as she considers them all an “upgrade!” 1) Lay on my back and put her on my chest or stomach and she settles right in. But, I’m only good for about 5 minutes as my “self diagnosed” restless legs syndrome kicks in and I have to move around; 2) roll her into the crook of my arm and let her sleep on her back with her head on my shoulder. This way I can move my legs somewhat, but then my back gets sore, so I can only hold that position about 10 minutes before I have to move around; or 3) I can lay her down at the very top of my pillow and slide in before she slips – and stick my head on my pillow – with Shine’s front feet on one side of my head and her back feet on the other, so I am wearing her like a hat. While I’m sure it may look a bit odd, the advantage of this position is that I can move my body as needed – and it keeps my ears warm! Again, a definite upgrade for Shine, as she is still on my pillow – and still asleep so we are all happy and have not broken any rules.

One day I shall have to lay her somewhere crazy like the bath tub or out the back door, and see if she opens her eyes then!