I love to watch my dog sleep. He curls up on our couch or his fluffy doggy bed, head and paws touching, tail tucked close to his body and falls asleep in what seems like seconds. Soon I hear little woof-woofs while his nose twitches and paws move gently as if running through air. Is he dreaming? Is he chasing the bunny, playing at the dog park, or running to greet me? Or, is his twitching and sleep barking nothing more than reflexive? What does science say about dog dreams?
He hears something, I think it was a car horn. He wakes, pops his head up and looks around the room and our eyes meet. He seems confused, probably wondering,
How did I get here? Wasn’t I running with the deer in the woods? Didn’t I chase the squirrel up the tree? I came so close to the edge of the forest where I have never been before.
His head drops back down and he sighs deeply, sometimes he yawns, then he slop slops his mouth and swallows. Maybe his dream gave him a juicy steak or his favorite – a hot dog. Whatever may have happened, or not happened, he is off to sleep again.
I love my beautiful, gentle, boy, and I adore him when he sleeps. I’m convinced he dreams, just like you and I dream. I laugh when he sleep-barks and am contented by the sound of his rhythmic breathing. I have to resist the pull to snuggle him close, to stroke his back, scratch behind his ear, and lay my head on his chest. The boom boom of his heart moves me and the single lick to my face is a sweet gift – he tells me everything is alright, I am loved, I am safe. And in case he had a bad dream and needs the same reassurance, I tell him everything is alright. I’m right here buddy. You are safe, go back to sleep and dream those doggy things.