A Whimper in the Night

The date is December 27th, 2009. It is Jasper’s Birthday. He is seven years old today. The place is our bedroom in my Mother-in-Law’s home. The time is 2:45 am. I am lost in dreamland. My wife is sleeping too but is being bothered by a whimper that is the backdrop for one dream after another. It got louder and more insistent and is clearly out of place in her dreams. And soon, she is awake staring at the ceiling and wondering what woke her up.

Our two 10 week old foster golden retriever puppies made the trip to northern Illinois with us, but they were quietly sleeping in the crate at the foot of the bed. Amos was sleeping soundly on his bed of pillows that we brought with us. Jasper was presumably hiding somewhere in the darkness.

As my wife searched the room for Jasper, from the comfort of our bed, the room is filled with a muffled whimpering. No Jasper. The bedroom door is closed; So he hadn’t left the room. The closet doors are closed. Looking down at the side of the bed, my wife discovers the top of Jasper’s head. OMG, HE IS STUCK UNDER THE BED!!

After several futile attempts to pull him out, without leaving the comfort of our bed, my wife awakens me and tells me that Jasper is stuck under the bed and she doesn’t know how long he’s been there, although the logistics of the situation suggest it’s been at least an hour or two. She has managed to get his head out, but that is all.

Unlike my Mother-in-Law’s dog, a West Highland Terrier who can and does run under the bed all the time — usually to escape the rougher play of the big golden retrievers — Jasper is a 90-pound Golden Retriever whose torso is nearly as wide as the distance from the hardwood floor to the bottom of the bed. I get up, crawling off the foot of the bed because my side is pressed tightly against the wall and walk around to my wife’s side of the bed. What I see reminds me of a horse-on-a-stick toy.

Horse on a Stick
Horse on a Stick

Jasper’s big head and 3 inches of his neck are visible with the rest of his torso hidden beneath the bed. His feet are pointing inward and not visible. His right eye is staring upward and watching me.

“Jasper, How did you get under there?”

Jasper just lays there, totally motionless, except that his eye follows me. He is clearly happy to see me; I can hear the muffled thump, thump, thump of his tail against the wall on the far side of the bed.

I reach under the bed and grab a handful of dog hair in the middle of his back and quickly pull him toward me. He slides easily on the hardwood floor, so I’m not hurting him with my tug on his hair. It takes only a few moments to get him far enough out that I could get my hands around him. I wrap my hands around his torso, I pull him the rest of the way out. When he is completely out from under the bed, he just lays there, unmoving.

“Jasper, Did you hurt yourself? Are you alright?” He lays there totally motionless.

Slapping his butt gently with the verbal command, “Okay” he pops right up. Clearly, he had been under the bed long enough that he had stopped struggling to get up and didn’t know to try again until I told him to. Immediately he is licking my face and trying to climb into my lap. Jasper is clearly upset. Pointing to my spot on the full-size bed and he hops right up and snuggles in next to my wife. He does his best to keep her awake while I work out a solution to prevent him from doing it again once I go back to sleep.

Over the years we have frequently had to deal with the dogs getting their backs under the bed with their feet stretched into the room, but this was the first time that his feet were pointing under the bed and the first time that he was completely under the bed. Generally, our dogs sleep on their side, with their backs pushed up against something — the bed frame, the wall, me, my wife, etc. — with their feet extending outward. As they stretch in their sleep or run in their sleep, they slowly push themselves under the bed — but never more than their head or two or three inches of their backs. Jasper had managed to push himself completely under the bed, and then turn around so his feet were pointing toward the far side of the bed.

I placed a row of pillows, end to end, on top of a blanket and folded the blanket over the pillows. Then I wedged the whole thing tightly under the side of the bed. Now, he could lay on the pillows and when he moved to the cool floor, the pillow wall would prevent him from going under the bed. It worked! Once I coaxed him out of my spot and back onto the floor (this bed isn’t big enough for my wife, my big golden, and myself) we were all able to go back to sleep for a few hours before the puppies’ built-in air raid sirens went off signaling time for morning potty.

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