People can get a little squeamish about dog-human co-sleeping. This is wrong, so I thought it might be useful to enumerate the reasons why they get squeamish and then forcefully shut them down.
1. THEY THINK IT’S GROSS
Well, yeah, it is gross. Basically, in order to enjoy sleeping with your dog friend, you just have to pretend it isn’t disgusting. Convince yourself that you aren’t affected by the fact that you have to lie in repose among the many things that have fallen off a dog’s body. It’s essentially a meditative practice.
My bed is full of Peter hair at all times. I change my sheets and wash my duvet regularly, but the amount of time it exists without dog hair is: never. The moment I put my sheets on the bed, they are haired. I now own a hand broom with rubber bristles made specifically for “sweeping the bed” to remove dog hair, et cetera, and actually it’s fine. It’s fine.
2. THEY THINK YOU’RE “SPOILING” THE DOG
In my opinion, eat shit. Excuse me; that was a little heated. I’ll start again. In my opinion, eat shi—ah! Oh gosh. Okay. My apologies. In … my … opinion … —gah, oh no … eat … oh jeez.
Read: Why people pretend to talk as their pets
3. THERE IS A SOMEWHAT, WELL, LET’S FACE IT, SEXUAL CONNOTATION ASSOCIATED WITH SHARING A BED
The fact that I’m constantly telling Peter that he’s the handsomest man alive and that I want to marry him is bad optics, I admit, but I do feel like this idea says more about the idea-haver than it does about me or you.
4. THEY THINK DOGS ARE DISRUPTIVE TO SLEEP AND HEALTH
This one will take longer to forcefully shut down.
I am not a good sleeper. I have dreams; I wake up; I toss and turn. Peter is similar. It’s possible that sleeping together is disruptive to both of us, but I think only in the way that buying scented candles is disrupting my ability to purchase a home. Yeah, it’s probably not helping, but it’s not, like … the main issue. We are maybe not the most representative case. I suppose we should consult science.
I asked Bradley Smith, of Central Queensland University in Australia, if I should be afraid of zoonotic diseases, the kind that can be transmitted from animals to humans. “The [risk] is so low, it’s ridiculous,” he told me. “If your dog is healthy and vaccinated, there is basically no risk.” Okay—good.
Read: Can I let people pet my dog during the pandemic?
Smith, a canine researcher who works at the university’s sleep institute, has done a small study on whether dogs disrupt their owner’s sleep. Five female dog owners, and their dogs, wore activity monitors for seven nights. I hate to tell you this, but the dogs did, in fact, negatively impact sleep. Dog movement was related to human movement, and humans were 4.3 times more likely to be awake during dog activity than inactivity.
I asked Smith what this meant. Does science suggest that I stop sleeping with my sweet dog whom I love so much, even though he has such sweet eyelashes, and I love to kiss his doggy face, and even though sleeping with him provides me with more joy than any other element of my life? Or what? “Can I be a real scientist and say ‘It depends’?” he asked. Ugh. If you must. “I say this because there are just so many variables. For example, the number of humans and dogs in the household, the size of the dog, the size of the bed, whether the dog is toilet trained; the list goes on.”