There is an old adage, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”, that most of you have heard a million times. In other words, be generous to someone and the person will demand even more.
This maxim aptly applies when talking about dogs. Ya’ give em’ an inch and before you know it they have taken over. Completely. Then demanding more.
Especially on the bed. It starts off innocently enough, curled up on the bottom corner of the king-sized bed. Before you know it, it ends up with the canine fully stretched out on their back, paws in the air, laying diagonally across the mattress. Taking over the bed. Right down to their head on the down pillows.
As a puppy, Tiamo was not allowed on the bed. Ever. It was easy the first three to five months or so of her life. The bed was too high for her to jump on, she was too little to reach the bed with her paws. She had her own spot in the bedroom. We had purchased a large dog pillow and placed it on the floor at the edge of the bed by my side. That was Tiamo’s pillow, her bed. With us, but not on us. As she grew, as her muscles developed, she tried a few times to jump up on the bed. Repeatedly. But, Malcolm and I held firm. Dogs were not allowed on the bed. Even though she tried, Tiamo knew her place. And, it wasn’t on the bed. For two years Tiamo never put so much as a paw on the bed. Until I caved.
It was one of those weeks when Malcolm was out-of-town visiting friends in Atlanta, I stayed home to hold down the fort. Missing my honey, I was lonely and wanted comfort, even if it was canine comfort. I called Tiamo up on the bed. She wouldn’t budge off her pillow. She knew better than to climb up on the bed and here I was encouraging her to misbehave. I tried again to get Tiamo to jump up and join me. No luck. The good news was Tiamo was well-trained and wasn’t going to jump on the bed. The bad news was, I was determined to have her up on the bed with me. I literally picked her up and placed her on the bed. Tiamo immediately jumped down, afraid she would be in trouble. Again, I picked her up and set her on the bed. Again, she jumped off. By the third attempt, Tiamo realized she was allowed on the bed. She tucked herself into a small ball, curled up on the corner of the large bed and nervously fell asleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, she crawled down off the bed onto her pillow. She was uncomfortable on the bed. I should have stopped there, but noooooo.
The next night was easier. I picked up Tiamo and placed her on the bed where she lounged, spread eagle throughout the night, softly snoring by my side. By the time Malcolm returned from his trip to Georgia, Tiamo was a fixture on the bed. She had a special spot down on the corner keeping my feet warm.
Throughout the years, her small corner property increased in acreage. Tiamo started to take up more and more territory on the bed. Her motto became “possession is nine-tenths ownership”. Tiamo barely allowed us to sleep on her bed with a thin strip of mattress on the very edge of the bed. Sometimes with blankets and covers, sometimes without.
I noticed dogs do the same thing with our hearts as they do the with bed. We give them a little space, a tiny corner in bottom of our hearts and pretty soon they are on their backs, spread out all over our emotions. With their paws extended over our souls, dogs will fill up every spare inch available, laying diagonally across our love, getting a belly rub in the meantime. They will inch their way, paw by paw into ours hearts, hugging our spirit, licking through our defenses. It doesn’t take much time. In just seconds, they can have us willingly wrapped around each one of their paws. In just minutes dogs can make our hearts sing and dance and smile, bringing contentment to our lives, compassion. “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”.