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Let sleeping dogs lie

September 12, 2007 - Amy Jo Hanna-Eckenrode

Co-worker Lori (Tyler and Benson’s mom) and I share a lot of stories about our fur-babies each equally famous for giving us all kinds of scares. Old dogs especially, are known for sleeping extremely soundly at times. More than once I have convinced myself that Jesse, now 12 1/2, has passed on beyond the Rainbow Bridge when she doesn’t immediately respond to my call or touch. My heart stops, my eyes well with tears, I immediately start a pre-mourning routine and start to think about the steps I need to take. By then, Jess is usually wide-awake, happily wagging her tail standing nose to nose with me, panting in my face - waiting for attention or a treat. Here is one of Lori’s recent episodes:

tylerTyler, age 12, scared the crap out of me last night. I think he quite possibly gave me an anxiety attack. Me and the puppies went to bed before daddy who had dozed back off on the couch after Benson gave him a big ‘ole wet kiss. I kept fading in and out. Benson (who was apparently not tired) was playing. He kept opening the closet door and throwing sneakers around the room, which kept waking me up.

Tyler was laying on the floor by my side of the bed, which was odd since he usually pulls for daddy's side or sprawls out in the middle of the bed between us. But, then my side was out of the line of fire from "Sneaker Attack 2007".

When I reached down to pet him he was completely still - I mean COMPLETELY - I couldn't even feel him breathing. So I started shaking him, and calling his name. Meanwhile sneakers are bouncing off the walls so I break briefly to return the sneakers to the closet and head back to Tyler.

I'm now on the floor with both hands on Tyler trying to feel for breathing, shaking, something. Nope, nothing. I start shaking him harder and calling his name again. Now I am worried. The panic is setting in.

Then I feel a faint movement and a tiny little groan, could have been a growl even, but I was so glad to hear something it didn't really matter at that point. UGH! Here I am thinking the worst. Apparently he is so deep in doggie la-la-land that he is in some sort of David Blane-like trance that all his bodily functions have slowed to a nearly non-existent state. Then the thought crosses my mind, "ok, he's not dead, but boy am I lucky he didn't take an arm off or something".
(Hindsight 'eh?) He's not one to like being snuck up on and here I am trying to wake him up. Anyway, I take the little groan as a cue to leave with my arms still intact and get back in bed with the now-calm Benson.

As I lay down, my heart is still pounding so hard that it feels like it is going to pop out of my chest. I honestly think I had trouble breathing for a second or two. Must have been all that adrenalin... All day today, I couldn't help but think about how very, very still he was.
It was really scary. I'll have to find a little mirror to keep in the bedroom to stick under his nose for signs of life next time. I think I like my fingers, hands, arms, and whatever else could possibly become suddenly lost when waking a dog from his sleep to stay exactly where they are. Tyler’s done this before – been hard to arouse, but he usually moves some body part a bit quicker. Anyhow, note to self: let sleeping dogs lie.

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