I admit it: I use my basenji as a teddy bear. A very smelly-breathed, sometimes wiggly, little heat-factory of a teddy bear. Every night, the humans hop into bed first, then our basenji boy Biko hops in and burrows down to our feet, and then our basenji girl Reef hops in last lest she get growled at by Biko. She takes her time and kneads the pillows carefully, then turns 10,000 circles (usually to my great annoyance) before finally ending up exactly where we both knew she would: curled up in a little ball right up against my tummy. I curl my body around her, hugging her tight, and together we fall asleep -- my little spoon and I.
It wasn't always that way -- when we first got Reef (our first basenji), I was intent on having her sleep downstairs. I grew up with big dogs and they always slept downstairs, so that's what I thought was appropriate for a dog. So for the first few nights we had her, we gated Reef in the kitchen. However, even from the start, we never stood a chance that she would ACTUALLY stay there -- she wanted to be upstairs with her pack in the worst way, and nothing was going to stand in her way of getting there. First she easily hopped over the baby gate we put up in the kitchen doorway. Then she climbed the double-stacked baby gates like a cat. Then she ate several window blinds, and clawed a hole through the wall next to the gates all the way down to the bricks. Then we crated her, and she howled like an angry banshee ALL. NIGHT. LONG. By the third night of this, my husband and I, deprived of peace and sleep and worried that our neighbors were going to call social services on us, finally gave in. We opened the crate, Reef immediately stopped howling, trotted upstairs, hopped up on our bed, and promptly went to sleep. And that was that.
Nine years later, it's come to the point where I'm so used to Reef being there curled up in a little ball under the covers in front of me, that I actually have trouble sleeping without her. Sure, her body temperature feels somewhat akin to sleeping next to the surface of the sun, and I wake up sweating in the middle of the night. Sure, her fur sometimes gets itchy against my skin and I have to shove a pillow between us since she doesn't seem to understand that we have a king-sized bed and there are whole feet of empty bed space she could occupy instead of the two feet right next to me. Yes, sometimes she does decide to change positions and stretch out, grinding her claws into my middle and/or shoving her dog-butt much too near my face for comfort. Most sane people would probably avoid these little discomforts, but somehow I've concluded that I must not be sane, because I actually don't mind these things. And sometimes I even kind of like her dog-breath in the morning, which means I must be truly nuts. But she's my little teddy bear, and there's nothing quite like curling myself around her warm little body at night and feeling her relax into me and drift off to sleep. My little spoon. :-)