There's a saying that if you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas.

I'd like to think my dog-maintenance routine is such that my lot don't have fleas for me to wake up with, but I have certainly woken up with a crick in my neck, claws in my back or the slightly creepy feeling of something licking my foot.

There was a time in my pet ownership when dogs didn't get on the furniture.

Unfortunately that was so long ago I can't remember it. I suspect the last dog we didn't allow on the furniture - or inside in general- was the cattle dog cross my husband had when we got married.


He was an outside dog and in return he dug open cast mines in the backyard, chewed up dog kennels, footwear and vehicles. Including a boat.

One cold day we visited my grandmother and she took pity on him, insisting he be allowed inside. The dog promptly "lifted his leg", as Gran would say, on to her blazing kerosene heater.

The resulting stench of sizzling dog-pee cleared the entire house and he was never allowed in again.

He died at a ripe old age, hit by a car after escaping to snack on an even riper road kill hedgehog that had been lying on the road for days.

The next dog we had was a great Dane who should never have been allowed inside, but they have such sad faces ...

The first sign that he should have been an outside dog was a game he invented that involved running and jumping at full speed on to our bed, while we laughed at how clumsy and ridiculous he was.

The laughter stopped when one of his jumps exploded our down duvet, sending a storm of tiny white feathers throughout the house. A year later I was still picking white feathers off clothes and furniture.

He also liked to lie in doorways and for some unknown reason we let him.


It became normal to pick your feet up and step over a dozing Dane when going from the kitchen to the dining room and we still did it out of habit long after he'd gone.

We really should have put a stop to it after he stood up one evening as I was mid-step, upending both me and the blackberry pie I was carrying. The carpet never recovered.

We ended up with to great Danes and while they could occasionally sneak on to the couch they weren't allowed on our bed. Sort of.

The dogs worked out if they sneaked off to bed early they could get in an hour or so of snoozing on our comfy bed before we would rudely awaken them, tell them off and consign them to their dog-beds on the floor.

Each evening they would turn their sad eyes on us as we reclaimed our bed and pointed them resolutely towards the dog beds.

So guilty did they make us feel that we would compete to see who would give in and be the bad guy each night.

If I got to bed first, I would squeeze under the bedclothes and pretend I didn't see the dogs, meaning hubby had to play the bad cop and chuck them off the bed. If he got there first, bad cop fell to me.

One evening I decided to tough it out. I refused to be the mean owner. So did hubby. I squeezed in the bed and pretended there weren't two great Danes on top of the duvet. So did hubby. I ignored the dogs. He did too, both of us waiting for the other one to get so uncomfortable they'd have to give in.

The next morning we awoke cramped and in pain, clinging to the edge of the mattress, no blankets, legs numb….we'd both fallen asleep and the dogs had taken full advantage of the reprieve, spending the night taking up most of a queen sized bed.

We have been beaten down over the years by a succession of puppy-dog-eyes and the current herd of Chihuahuas are not only permitted on the bed, they have a little stool so they can get up on the bed because they are too short to jump.

In theory they are allowed at the foot of the bed.

Except Bunnie who is old and likes to sleep on the pillow.

And Mungo who has a touch of arthritis so he's allowed under the duvet if it's cold.

And Hugo who has no excuses whatsoever but waits until we are asleep and burrows down to sleep at my feet.

Hence waking up with a stiff neck, tiny claws digging into my back and something licking my foot.

But at least I don't have fleas.