See also Dogs, Dog Page Ideas, and Pets.
Almost everybody who listens to music younger than Lawrence Welk's is aware that Three Dog Night was the name of a rock group. The number of people, however, who know that a three-dog night is colder than a two-dog night, although not so cold as a four-dog night in that part of Russia inhabited by people called Samoyeds, may be somewhat smaller. The few who manage to get any sleep on even a two-dog night may be counted on the toes of one Samoyed. In the interests of those other than Samoyeds who seem to be too cold to care one way or the other, I will address myself to the art of sleeping with two dogs. For the few who have already mastered the technique I will later add a cat, although I urge beginners to leave the cat out, at least for the first few nights.
To achieve any sort of success (sleep) certain arbitrary conditions must be assumed, the first one being a king-size bed. There is no point in lying down in anything smaller. While the size and breed of dog is not important (people who sleep with dogs know that before the night is over everybody collects into a pile), the condition of the dogs may be. Very thin dogs, for instance, are lumpy. (You'll notice that the Samoyeds have developed very comfortable dogs.)
I have selected the two-dog minimum because, as we shall see, it is the only way to stay in bed at all. The key word here is leverage. All dogs spend the night pressed tightly against their human bedfellows, but no two dogs ever sleep on the same side. This is, in part, an expression of the Let Sleeping Dogs Lie principle. It is also to create leverage. Because the human is always in the middle, held tightly in place by dogs and the additional need to be wrapped in a blanket, while dogs prefer to sleep on top of the same blanket, restlessness and recurring cramps are difficult to handle. Here is a tip: When you first lie down and before the dogs settle against each side of you, spread your legs three inches apart, stiffen and hold out no matter how great the pressure. When the time comes to turn over, bring the legs together quickly under the now slightly slackened blanket and revolve quickly before the dogs wake up. As soon as you have assumed a new position, allow for those crucial three inches again. Otherwise, you're a mummy for the rest of the night.
Never spread the legs more than three inches, however. A dog's favorite place to sleep is in the hollow created by legs too widely spread, and once settled he and you are frozen into position until morning. (There is a way out of this trap, but it is difficult to describe without slides.) Dogs who prefer to sleep on their backs must be given turning space three times the height of the dog at the shoulder. Dogs who like pillows may be accommodated if you sleep on your side with the legs scissors so that each dog has an ankle for a chin rest. Above all, beware of curling. When the curl is reversed, both dogs are dislocated, resulting in low growls on both sides of you.
When you are ready to add a cat, position is all-important. (This is a trick the Samoyeds have long since mastered.) All cats prefer to sleep in hollows, but no cat will sleep on the same side with a dog. (Remember you only have two sides.) You must therefore become a triangle. This is accomplished by assuming a horizontal diver's crouch, thereby creating not only three more or less exclusive sides, but two hollows as well. With one dog at your front, the other against your back, the cat can curl into the hollow at the back of your knees, separated from both dogs. All will then sleep soundly.
The Samoyeds have left no written instructions in any language we can decipher for coping with early morning scratching, possible because they are always awake scratching themselves. They must also have solved the problem of pretending to sleep while being closely scrutinized by various animals, but again they tell us nothing.
Just as well. Too much to remember all at once will keep you awake.