Men and Women often have deal breakers in relationships.

I will /will not date a man/woman who has a boat; drives a Hummer; cheers for the Yankees; doesn’t like the outdoors; likes cats; votes Republican, etc.

Likely, you have a few of these on your hypthetical list as well. Some of your deal breakers may even be valid given your family situation, goals, etc. But what happens, when these rules, these dividing lines change years into a relationship? In my humble opinion, as we grow and change we are  forced to adapt, compromise or negotiate.

But how do you negotiate with a 75 lb yellow lab who thinks that your face is an appropriate place to stand at 5am when she wants her breakfast? No really.  How does this situation allow for compromise?

Meet Gracie.

She happens to be the 2nd love of my life (first being husband, duh).

Gracie came into my life 4 years ago as a small, fluffy, sweet smelling ball of white fur.

She is no longer any of these things.

She loves to eat, play catch, eat, nap, eat, swim, eat, chase squirrels, eat snacks, chase cats, rip open bags of bread, sleep, torment our older black lab, dig, roll in mud, eat branches, rip the petals off of flowers, eat shoes, and nap. When these activities exhaust her, and the counters have been cleaned of any and all food like substances, she retires to our master bedroom for rest.

At night, Gracie and her brother Atticus share a bed with my husband and I. I realize this is an embarassing admission. YES. WE SLEEP WITH DOGS. 

And because of this reality, we upgraded to a larger bed where all four of us (and sometimes the two cats) can rest in mutual comfort.

Our large spacious bed has been a blessing for the people who use it, but of late I am realizing it may be too large for Gracie’s taste.

It used to be that Gracie’s wake up call (nose to face and stretch) would shake the entire bed and my husband and I would wake, groan, and one of us would rise to feed our poor starving dog.   

This month however, she has learned the bed won’t shake enough and her prior stretching actions fail to wake her people. So, Gracie had to adapt, change, and evolve her morning routine.

She now wakes up, and sits on my face. Although I am unsure how it looks, I imagine it looks like this, only my face is slightly larger than our sweet cat Emma.

So what now?

I have scratches on both cheeks. I have pounded on her chest numerous times asking her to move. I have even tried to roll over thinking I could hide from her giant paws.

I am failing. And reminded of the old saying – Those who sleep with dogs, rise with fleas.

We are taking some time off this summer and Gracie is not invited on our trips. Hopefully, this time apart will be good. Hopefully, she will unlearn this new habit and we can go back to the day of bed bouncing and cold nose to the face.

I know, I know. Those who sleep with dogs.