Thursday, June 27, 2013

He Dreamed a Dream of Days Gone By

If you don't like dogs, if you think they're hairy and smelly and they do things in public that offend your sensibilities, then you'll find this post offensive, as well. Don't read another word.

But if you do like dogs, if you think they're generally charming and smart and funny even if they do disgusting things occasionally, read on. I'm gonna tell you something about them that you may not know yet.

Those of us who live with dogs already know that they dream. We watch them sleep, and when their eyes move, their paws twitch, we chuckle and say, "Awww, he must be chasin' rabbits!" All of my dogs have shown physical signs of their dreams. Sometimes muffled barking sounds come out of their nearly closed mouths. Once in a while they'll whine or cry pitifully. Gimpy does all of that and then some. He's the most sleep-active dog I've ever seen.

Gimpy likes to sleep next to me in the evening when I sit on the sofa and watch TV. He lies on his side with some part of his body touching mine, so I can feel the jiggling begin as soon as he starts dreaming. Sometimes his tail wags enthusiastically, slapping against the leather sofa with such force that I'm surprised it doesn't hurt him. Sometimes he runs, his whole body moving as all four legs pump furiously. Whatever it is, he sleeps right through it. I always, always wish there was some way to know what he's dreaming about.

The dictionary definition of "dream" is "a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep." Some people believe dogs can't think, but those of us who have them know they do. They think, they remember, and there's even evidence that they plan. I'm also convinced that they show emotions. Love, curiosity, concern, fear, sorrow,  shame, and impatience come immediately to mind. I have no way of discerning whether dogs' brains store images, but the very fact that they dream persuades me that they do. So, here's the little tidbit of news I promised you at the beginning of this post: Dogs may indeed dream about chasing rabbits, but there's a lot more interesting stuff than that going on in their subconscious minds.

The other evening Gimpy lay on his side next to me as usual, fast asleep, one foot resting against my hip. All of a sudden he was moving, big movements, nothing subtle about them. I turned to watch him and quickly realized that this was not a running dream. Gimpy was ... um ... humping. Humping the air. Vigorously. It only lasted a few seconds, and it didn't wake him up. Neither did my laughter.

Bless his heart. He was neutered soon after he came to live with us when he was almost two. I've seen him indulge in humping behavior only a couple of times in a waking state, and both times I interrupted it with a disapproving tone of voice. I know it's a normal behavior, but it isn't one I want to encourage. These days, if he still has those kinds of thoughts when he's awake, he doesn't act on them.

But, hey, a guy can dream, can't he?


Your comments might be the very best thing about blogging. I love it when you care enough to share your thoughts here, so go ahead and say what's on your mind.