Life with a Smile: King of the Couch

Published 10:13 am Friday, November 29, 2019


I am steadily losing ground in my efforts to keep a clear delineation between “dog space” and “people space” in my home. In fact, as I type this, said dog is asleep beside me on the couch, kicking my thigh as his paws twitch in time to some engrossing canine dream.

A dog. On my couch. I never thought I would see the day.

Email newsletter signup

When I was growing up, we had a dog. We loved her desperately. But she was very much a dog. She slept in a crate in the garage, spent the day outside while we were at work or school, only ate dog food (no table scraps!) and was never – ever – allowed on the furniture. Because she was a dog.

But somehow each successive dog that I’ve owned has inched closer and closer to the designation of “family member.” When my ex and I bought a dog in the early days of our marriage, he slept in our bedroom and we arranged playdates for him with other dogs via Craigslist. True story. It’s the sort of activity that made sense before we had children. 

The couches were still off-limits, however. Being married to a germaphobe forced me to maintain some boundaries. 

But now here’s Buddy, snoring contentedly and pretending he is a decorative throw pillow, whose primary job in life is to make the couch look more cozy. 

It started off innocently enough. From the moment he arrived, Buddy has been tremendously fond of soft things. He loved the fleece blanket in his crate and was prone to ‘nesting’ on any unattended articles of clothing left on the floor. 

Naturally, we bought him a dog bed. Okay, fine. We bought him multiple dog beds, each fluffier than the last. It was utterly charming to see him curled up on his giant pillows, the former shelter dog now living a life of luxury.

That’s when he snuck onto my children’s beanbag chairs. 

The kids’ carpeted bedrooms are a squishy oasis in a house comprised primarily of hardwood flooring. When the carpet is accessible – and not covered in the never ending debris of Nerf darts, baby doll accessories, and Lego pieces – Buddy rolls on their floors with wild abandon, flopping joyfully from side to side, gnashing his teeth and grunting happily. 

It was no surprise that he started eyeing the beanbag chairs. Talk about comfy! And how can you resist when the dog wants to be part of the bedtime reading routine? 

But that was it. Beanbag chairs aren’t really furniture, so we weren’t really breaking any rules. The couch was off-limits. Of course.

Until it wasn’t.

He was stealthy. I’ll give him that. He didn’t go straight for the living room sofa. No, he started with the futon in the den. Nobody cares too much about that futon. It’s old and cheap and doesn’t get used much. So when I discovered him camped out there one evening at bedtime, it seemed silly to chase him off. 

You can see where this is going, right? A few days later, as I lay reading on the couch, I looked up to see a pair of giant brown eyes gazing hopefully at me. He lay his head on the cushion, sighed deeply, and stared. And stared. And kept staring until I finally cracked and invited him up. 

Now he owns the couch, but will usually deign to allow humans to share it with him, as long as they don’t take up too much space.

But what about the bed? I can hear you wondering. No. No way. Firm no. I don’t care how cute he is. It’s bad enough that I sometimes end up sharing my bed with children. Any remaining space is reserved for laundry that I haven’t bothered to put away yet. No room for dogs. 

Also, I’ve seen him pee on his own feet. So like I said – firm no on bed sharing. 

Thus far, Buddy doesn’t seem to mind. He’s happy on the couch. At least for now!