I’ve always loved thunderstorms. It’s one of the many reasons why I enjoy summer the most.
I pretty much know my love of storms stemmed from when I was a kid in Illinois. When big storm would roll through in the middle of the night, didn’t matter the time, my dad wake the whole fam damily up and would nervously bark at me and my sister to evacuate our bedrooms and march downstairs into the lower level of our split-level home. There, he’d chain smoke and sit on the end of the couch, the Weather Channel on and his CB radio tuned into the local National Weather Service station.
My sister and I were always ordered to go back to sleep on the downstairs couches, but with the TV on full blast, the radio on and my parents arguing yet again, it was an impossibility. In fact, watching my dad (who spent an unnecessary amount of time and energy flexing his dominance over my sister and I) succumb to his nerves over a stupid thunderstorm gave my sister and I quite a thrill! We’d run around the house, peeking at the storm through the various windows. We’d invent stupid games like “Jump Up Every Time You Hear Thunder” and run around like crazed lunatics every time the NWS radio station emitted any beep, buzz or tone. Dad would threaten and scream at us to stay away from windows and shut the hell up, but that only added fuel to the fire. His plan totally backfired: He made thunderstorms exciting, not scary.
To this day, I get excited when I see a line of thunderstorms on the local radar. I have about 3 weather apps on my iPhone. Some days I visit nws.com more than Facebook. I even admit, I’ve YouTube’d videos of old Weather Channel local forecasts from the 80’s and 90’s (back when they had the local time in the upper right hand corner that showed the time in minutes and seconds……does anyone else remember that???) to reminiscence and appreciate how far technology has come since then.
But now that I have bulldogs, nightly thunderstorms are rapidly losing their appeal and just like every other problem in our house, Peterbilt is to blame.
Since about a year ago, any thunderstorm that happens overnight sends Peterbilt into a panic. Sequestered with his dog bed in our den with pocket doors, the symphony of girlish whines and the nervous tippy-tappy noises from his paws are always enough to wake me up from even the deepest sleep, which is exactly what I don’t need on a Tuesday night.
When a loud thunderstorm would commence overnight, I used to get out of bed all groggy as hell, and open the door to let him out. Then it was a literal race between us, back to my bed to claim my spot before Peterbilt did. Trust me, you don’t want to lose because once that dog lays down, there’s no moving him. And he totally wants to sleep with his giant fucking head on MY pillow on MY side of the bed.
And once we’re all in bed, that scared, poor baby bulldog that was just seconds ago having a meltdown, instantly transforms into a calm, sleepy dog who curls up and goes right to sleep. ON MY LEGS.
My husband, who could sleep through a tornado, would wake up the next morning, unaware of the whole ordeal and would ask me, “How’d Peter end up in our bed?”.
Oh how nice. You must have gotten 8 hours of sleep. What’s that like?
Soon, it didn’t take a big ol’ thunderstorm to send Peterbilt into an anxiety attack, but any storm with thunder and/or lightening. At times, all it took was a single, distant rumble of thunder. So quiet, I only hear it when fully awake. Which is exactly the state of sleep I’d find myself with an 80 lb bulldog draped over my legs at 4 AM.
Then, just a few short weeks ago, Peterbilt started to whine for no reason in the middle of the night. No storms, no thunder, no nothing. The one time Husband woke up to Peterbilt’s whining, he said, “He probably has to pee. Just let him out.”
Oh, thank you. You’re a saint. Yes. That’s exactly how I’d like to spend my 3AM. Getting out of my cozy bed, to wrangle Peterbilt’s ass to the back door, open the door and let him out, set the ADT alarm off so the whole damn house is up, disarm it, and stand with my forehead resting on the back door while Peterbilt leisurely chews on the long grasses by our shed.
I find my husband’s theory to be complete bullshit since every time I open the door to the den to let him out, the dog makes a bee line to the bed, not the back door, and then he’s already got a head start on that bed race I was telling you about.
But I digress.
So Peterbilt is now using any excuse he can muster to sleep in our bed. In other words, I’m being played like a fiddle by a creature who likes to eat cardboard paper towel tubes.
I put my foot down. “Treat him like a baby!” I told myself. “Just let him cry it out and eventually he’ll go back to sleep. If I get up and let him out every time, I’m just reinforcing that behavior.”
The first night, Peterbilt whined for about 5 minutes. I put a pillow over my head and drowned him out. Success.
The second night, Peterbilt whined for 15 minutes and then quit. Victory #2.
Night #3 and Peterbilt starts whining about 1:30 AM. Sticking to my guns, I laid in bed, trying to get back to sleep. The whining continued. And continued. To the point where my husband was actually woken up. I heard him get out of bed, open the den pocket door a crack, curse at Peterbilt and walk back to bed.
The whining subsided. For about an hour. Round 2.
Husband wakes up again. In an attempt to prove his theory to me, he gets out of bed, walks into our kitchen and opens up the pocket door to the den from the kitchen side, so Peterbilt was not able to run down the hallway to our bed. He let Peterbilt outside and he did his business. However, when Hubs let Peterbilt back in, the dog snuck past his legs and started to tear ass down the hallway towards our bedroom. Theory debunked.
Hubs tackled Peterbilt and threw him back in the den, closing the door. “Go to sleep!!”, he hissed. Things finally quieted down.
An hour later, the whining started yet again. And then I heard the thunder rumble.
“Fuck it. I totally give up”, I said out loud.
I got out of bed, let Peterbilt out, who did a victory run to our bedroom and beat me to bed. Tired and crabby, I literally gave Peter a good old fashioned kick in the butt and knocked him out of my spot. He then jumped off the bed, ran into the family room and came back with a bone. He jumped on the bed and started excitedly gnawing at it, still savoring his victory. “Oh, hell no!” I said, and grabbed the slimy bone out of his mouth and put in on the night stand.
Somehow, we all managed to go back to sleep. Peter especially, followed by Hubs and me coming in dead last for the amount of sleep gained from 4 AM to 8 AM.
I gave up on sleep at 8 AM and yawned and stretched. This immediately woke up Peterbilt, who did his own yawn and stretch. Then he proceeded to hassle me for his breakfast. “C’mon Mom!” He seemed to say. “Get up, already!”
I sat up and in doing do, Peterbilt leaped to the edge of the bed and looked over his shoulder at me, leering. He emitted an annoyed, low-pitched growl. I knew exactly what he was trying to tell me: “Feed me now and don’t even THINK about going to the bathroom first.”
Screw you, dog. That’s a tall fucking order, coming from you.
I totally went the bathroom. And from there, SLOWLY started a pot of coffee. And did a couple of dishes that were in the sink. Just to piss him off.
There’s 3 months of summer left to go. Time to invest in a set of ear plugs.