Laying Down My Sleeping Dog

 In Arete

I sleep with dogs. And despite my past track record, my use of the verb “sleep” is done without any innuendo.  Anyone who has happened upon my Instagram account knows this to be the case. My snoozing habits with the puppers is so wide known, that I even once received a mug from a coworker with the simple print on the side, “I Sleep With Dogs.”

Of the three giant breed dogs I’ve had, only one has actually slept in the bed next to me. Both Sherman (Bernese Mountain) and Lurch (Landseer Newfoundland) enjoy(ed) laying in the bed for a brief time, but ultimately end(ed) up on the floor next to the bed for their own cycle of R.E.M. sleep. Only one dog spent his nights next to me.

Michael Cera (né Mouse) became an official part of my life on August 19, 2014. He had lived with a few different families previously. His owner (my friend) was moving out-of-state and keeping him wasn’t an option. She first hit me up a month prior, asking if I know anyone that would be interested. As the days passed by, I decided that it would probably do Sherman some good to have a buddy.

Some pre life-with-Trent photos.

His first night, it took some coaxing to get him on the bed, but eventually, Sherman lie on my right and Michael Cera on my left. I distinctly remember my surprise when he was just fine with me wrapping an arm around him as I was falling asleep. Sherman shrugged me right off whenever I tried this with him. To my greater surprise, the following morning, he hadn’t moved during the night, and my arm still lay draped over him.

And that was his personality: patient and ready to accept and reciprocate any affection.

Some sleeping-in-the-bed photos.

Michael Cera loved people. He had an innate ability to assess whatever a person or fellow dog might need in a moment and then serve up what he could offer for them. Be it a nudge on the knee of a tired friend in need of some commiseration, a friendly romp with a dog placed in a strange, or simply being present for someone who just doesn’t know what else to do, he always did what he could.

He was used in a therapy capacity at a behavioral health clinic. My friend (a therapist) would pick him up in the mornings and he’d go to work, doing what he did best: be himself. Many times, he and I wold be out and about town when someone would stop us and ask, “Is that Michael Cera?” Then share a story of how great he is to have as part of their therapy. The impact that he had on others’ lives wasn’t truly clear to me until late 2017. I made a Facebook post about how much I admired the cognition of dogs (as they haven’t a concept of past and future the way humans do), and a very real person commented on how Michael Cera had made a very real impact in their life:

Trent, I just want to thank you and ask you to give Michael Cera the dog extra cuddles from me. Last April, my son had a horrible melt down (autism) at [the therapist’s] office. She brought your sweet pup in and he was able to help my son calm down enough to be loaded into the ambulance. I’m forever thankful for this pup of yours- he made the hardest day of 2017 easier for us. ❤️

Things that brought Michael Cera pure joy:

  • Anything to do with water
  • Riding in the car
  • Playing
  • Singing

… but most of all

  • Being with those who loved him

On Monday evening, after a very normal and fun day for Mr. Michael Cera – a day with a long walk, cuddles, food, treats, and romping with Lurch while I shoveled snow – I let the pups out to use the bathroom before climbing into bed.  Michael Cera came back in and lied down on his bed in front of the fire place. He didn’t take his designated spot on the couch or go to the bedroom (his normal routine). I called him and he didn’t move. So I spent an hour or so lying next to him on the floor.

Deciding to do what I think he would want, I picked him up and carried him into my bedroom and placed him on our bed. After staying awake for a couple more hours, petting him as he lie next to me on the bed, I fell asleep. I awoke two hours later, and my sleeping buddy and passed away. Just like that first night that we spent together, he hadn’t moved; he lied there as peacefully as he always had.

As our canine family members don’t have a concept of past or future, I am happy that he got to spend his last now doing what he loved the most: being with one who loved him.