Wherein my dog’s hallucinations do not improve my insomnia

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I’ve been fighting a running battle with insomnia–three nights in a row, I failed to achieve sleep. On Tuesday night, my problem was exacerbated by a late night problem with my dog Bonnie Ray:

Bonnie Ray, looking totally cute and not freaking anyone out.

Bonnie Ray, looking totally cute and not freaking anyone out.

Here’s a little background about Bonnie Ray: when it’s time for bed, she usually follows us into the bedroom, “says her good-nights,” and promptly heads to her favorite sleeping place–under the bed on my husband’s side.  Well, Tuesday night, the dog begins bedtime by acting completely out of character: she jumps onto the bed, and onto my husband, and refuses to leave.  She flattens her body against him, shimmies right up to his face, rests her adorable little head on his shoulder, and stubbornly makes this “her space.” Weird. We tell her to go lay down, we give her a little shove (we laugh hysterically because this is so weird), we physically move her. To no avail. Finally, my husband just turns his head and, petting her, falls asleep (ah, the luxury!). Next thing I know, he’s snoring. And Bonnie, abandoned, shimmies over to me and trades her spot half on him to a spot half on me. Super weird.

Usually, Bonnie Ray is not a real snuggler. My dog Penny will curl up beside me for hours.  If it were up to her, she’d basically never leave my side. In contrast, Bonnie Ray will visit periodically for a belly rub or to get her ears scratched, but then she gets bored, and heads off to do something else.  It had gotten pretty late, and even Penny was snugged up on her dog bed on the floor on my side of the bed.  But Bonnie? No go.

Penny, sleeping contentedly

Penny, sleeping contentedly

Even weirder: she didn’t really lay down or ever close her eyes. And she was panting like she’d just run laps around the yard in 90-degree heat (SN: I keep our house at 70 at night, which is a compromise I made with my husband, because I’d keep it at 68). In fact, she kept looking around at the ceiling as if she were looking for something or following some unseen object. She was scared. And she started shaking in fear.  I held her, and pet her, and said soothing things, getting freaked out myself now. Then, she barked out of nowhere…at nothing. Penny, the guard dog, jumped straight from sleep to her feet and let out a bark; then she looked around trying to figure out why she’d done it.  Bonnie seemed to wait for Penny to do something about whatever it was. Penny didn’t even bother with one of her regular perimeter checks, just curled back up in her bed and went to sleep.  My husband snored on.

After some time passed (during which I attempted to distract myself with episodes from Law & Order Season 4 while continuing to comfort my oddly-behaving dog), Bonnie got up, went cautiously into the living room, and stood, looking at the ceiling to her right; then her eyes flitted to the left above her head, and then forward, and then back. Her little head started turning to and from, again as if she were searching out something she couldn’t quite see or was tracking an invisible fly.

Law & Order Season 4, good but not quite distracting enough when your dog is “hallucinating”

And then suddenly, she came running back to the bedroom and dove on the bed, landing atop me, shaking and panting hard.  And her eyes continued to search the ceiling above us. I tried to see what she was seeing, but there was nothing to see.  This had been going on now for more than an hour when I became really afraid that something was wrong with her.  In fact, I diagnosed her as suffering from hallucinations–because I swear it looked and felt like the dog had dipped into some doggie acid. She was tripping. And my husband and our guard dog slept (and snored) on.

I tried to decide what I should do about this.  It seemed like maybe racing her to the Doggie Hospital might be the best option.  But I rely on my husband’s more rational thinking when it comes to these things. I was really worked up, Bonnie Ray was really worked up, but if Trent would wake up and evaluate the situation, I could determine how bad it really was.

Bonnie, "a little excited."

Bonnie, “a little excited.”

So I shook Trent gently and said his name. Nothing. Shook him a little harder. Nothing. Rocked his body back and forth and finally got a vague and sleepy “Whaaaa?” He went back to sleep.  So I tried again and was rewarded by a full word: “What?”

Me: I need you to wake up and see if Bonnie needs to go to the hospital. I think she’s having hallucinations.

Trent: She’s fine. <goes back to sleep>

Me: No, Trent, really. She’s freaking me out. <raised voice louder> You didn’t even look at her. She shaking in fear. And she’s looking all around like she sees things that aren’t there.

Trent <rolls over slightly and reaches out to touch Bonnie> She’s just panting. <rolls back over>

Me: That’s not panting. I’m holding her. I’ve been doing it for an hour. It’s not just panting. I mean, she is also panting. But that’s weird, too. It’s not hot in here.

Trent: <rolls over and sits half up, looks at Bonnie> She’s just excited.

Me: It’s the middle of the night. Nothing has happened, look at Penny <Penny sleeps on>.

Trent: She just needs to lay down and sleep. Lay down, Bonnie.

Bonnie Ray (still sitting on top of me): <pant, pant, crazy eyes, looking around wildly>

Me: See? It’s weird. No, freaky. I think she’s having hallucinations. Watch her.

Trent: Ok, it is weird.

Me: We should take her to the hospital. Maybe she ate some mushrooms.

Trent: Where would she get mushrooms?

Me: I don’t know. In the yard?

Trent: There are no mushrooms.

Me: There could be. You don’t know for sure.

And then we were interrupted by one, tiny, very short but high-pitched beep. Bonnie started, looked around wildly, and shook more intensely.

Me: What was that?

Trent <fully awake>: Umm…the fire detector! The battery must be low.

Me: You think that’s what’s making Bonnie act so weird? (evidently up until that point she could hear it periodically but the rest of us could not)

We get up, Trent pulls down the fire detector, and I let the dogs outside. Bonnie is all too happy to get out of Dodge.

Evil device designed to torture dogs

Evil device designed to torture dogs

Trent works to disable the stupid device, which is the fancy one that detects not just smoke but also heat and is connected to our alarm system and automatically calls the fire department if it determines we or the house is in danger. With my help (“pull the ribbon under the battery”), we manage to render it nonoperational (the thing takes weird batteries or we would have just changed them–safety first!).

We let the dogs back in–well, we let Penny in–we had to drag a terrified Bonnie back in. My husband went right back to sleep (and snoring).  Bonnie went right back to me. I pet Bonnie and watched Law & Order. She didn’t calm down enough to lay down for an hour. And she still was wide awake. Me too. Another few hours, and she dozed a little. But any sound or any movement, and her head jerked up.

It was a sleepless night. A sleepless night fueled, in part, by a stupid dying battery–the sound of which will, as it turns out, drive a little Springer mix completely crazy and traumatize her for HOURS.

Bonnie, the day after, mostly recovered from her trauma

Bonnie, the day after, mostly recovered from her trauma


Filed under Home Life

3 responses to “Wherein my dog’s hallucinations do not improve my insomnia

  1. So crazy you mention this because last Saturday morning we woke up around 7:30 and I kid you not at about 7:35 the smoke alarm let out that awful, high pitched beep. Chester went ballistic. Running around, pacing, looking, just like Bonnie! I immediately put him outside and since we were out of batteries coaxed my husband to run to the nearest store and get a damn battery to stop the madness.

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