Over the years, I’ve lived with dogs who were genuinely concerned when I got sick or injured. My Terv, Jamie, was a gentle soul who would have been a medical doctor if he’d been a human. Even Phoenix, the crazy-ass Malinois, was incredibly perceptive when I wasn’t feeling well.
I’ve also lived with dogs looked at me in disappointment when my health was less than five stars. I could hear them thinking, “Damn. Who’s gonna feed us if she expires?” I currently live with dogs whose style of nursing care may reduce the number of days on this planet I’ve been allotted.
Earlier this week I came down with The Plague: chills, fatigue and horrible chest congestion. I did what any sensible person would do—staggered out of bed to take care of the dogs, ransacked the medicine cabinet for OTC remedies and went back to bed. The Farmer was exempt from applying TLC because any good farm wife knows she’d need to be waving a severed limb in order to justify getting him out of the tractor this time of year.
This is where Disney-esque dogs would leap into action, curling close to keep their beloved owner warm as she sleeps. Treating her with gentle concern. Displaying their utmost devotion during her hour of need.
My dogs are less Walt Disney and more Stephen King.
In the last two weeks, Banner has come into the house smeared with blood after dispatching a rat, then dispatching and partially consuming a tree rat. This dog will literally eat anything that will not eat him first. He would survive the zombie apocalypse in fine form.
Raider, well, Chaos Goblins are generally not known for their nursemaid qualities.
Gratuitous photo of my questionable caregivers.
For a minute, I questioned the wisdom of falling asleep—ill and weak or just plain mentally feeble—without putting the dogs in their crates but in my feverish state, I thought they would just curl up with me and we’d all have a nice nap.
So I crawled back under the blankets and contemplated imminent death. The dogs were busy barking at the Farmer through the front window as if they had never, ever in their lives seen him drive around on a tractor, doing morning chores.
When the tractor entertainment vanished down the lane, Banner came to check on me. To his credit, he gave me a careful sniffing and licked my nose. Possibly to see if I was still alive or a candidate for second breakfast. I made a grumbly sound that soon turned into trying to cough up a lung and Banner decided he wasn’t having any of that nonsense. However, being allowed on the bed is not a privilege to be wasted so he went to the corner as far away from my infected carcass as he could get and went to sleep. I had no idea where Raider was or what he was doing but the house didn’t seem to be on the brink of imminent collapse so I didn't worry. Too much. Raid does have house manners. Most of them are bad.
Banner napped and I napped and everything was good until Raider ceased whatever mayhem he was committing in another part of the house. He bounced into the bedroom. And onto the bed. And after assessing the situation, onto my head. Because jumping on your owner’s head never fails to generate some sort of response.
I suspect it was not the response he wanted.
I managed to croak, “WTF are you doing?” and he backed off. Then he belly crawled to within an inch of my face and stared at me. I had one second to think, “Aww, he knows I’m sick and he’s actually going to calm and sensible for a—,” before he raised a paw and poked me on the nose. When I failed to respond, he did it again.
More grumbly noises ensued. Banner stomped across the bed to put the smack down on the noisy offender(s) who were spoiling his nap. This resulted in much chaos being committed in a single space, most of which I was already occupying. It also resulted in me being treated to repeated, up-close views of male dog anatomy.
My wheezing, rattling lungs eventually imparted the message I did not want dog nuts in my face and would their owner please take them somewhere else. He did. I didn’t know what Raider was doing and as long as the house wasn’t on fire, I didn’t really care. Banner went back to his corner and peace ensued for about three minutes, just long enough for me to drift into a chemically-induced dream state where my loved ones were not trying to suffocate me by sitting on my face.
Then Raider came back. Not discouraged by my previous lack of enthusiasm, he decided to display his affection by sticking his nose into the neckline of my hoodie. This is very sweet if the dog just gives you a quick snuffle, then cuddles in for a nap. It is not sweet at all if the dog starts burrowing like a badger on crack. I don’t remember what I said. It probably included four-letter words but my dogs have heard them so often, they are rather impervious. But they both left. Fine. Go kill something. Preferably not each other.
Then Raider came back and jumped on the bed. He took one look at me, flopped over and rolled on me. Literally. On top of me, on his back, feet in the air. Paws and legs and all parts of anatomy waving madly around.
He also rolls on dead bugs in exactly this fashion, so I didn’t find this to be an encouraging expression of get well wishes.
Eventually, I fell asleep. I have no idea what the dogs did while I coasted along in pharmaceutical dreamland but the house was still standing when I woke up and there weren’t any firetrucks on the yard so I’ll take that as a win.