A Rude Awakening by Dog and Grief

This week I had a rude awakening– a literal rude awakening — because of  widowhood’s impact on one area of my life.

The dog whined — loudly — at 4:10 a.m. (I’d finally slipped into sleep after 12:30.) I wasn’t thrilled.

I told her it wasn’t time to get up. “Go back to bed,” I grumbled. Unfortunately, she ignored the cushy doggy bed beside mine.

My doggy woke me at 4:10 a.m., but she had a good reason.

My doggy woke me at 4:10 a.m., but she had a good reason.

I screamed when 50 pounds of unwashed mutt landed on the bed above my pillow — startling her back onto the ground and me into no-more-sleep mode.

“Maybe she really, really needs to go out,” I thought. On the way to the back door she wove between my legs — more like a cat than a dog — nearly tripping me several times.

Halfway there she blocked me from going farther. (Again, I was not thrilled.) Within seconds, the smoke alarm directly over my head chirped its shrill low battery alert, sending her into more frenzied circles around my legs.

“O-oh. That’s why you got me up. Okay, girl. I get it now.”

I let her outside to do what she needed to do, climbed a chair, and pulled down the chirping device and its housemates. Then I retrieved the batteries I’d  purchased a couple of months earlier just for these alarms.

A few minutes later the dog was back inside and the smoke alarms all had fresh batteries.

(Stay with me. There really is a point to how this relates to grief, grieving, and recovery!)

My literal “rude awakening” happened at 4:10 a.m., but the greater, figurative “rude awakening” followed as I reflected on what brought me to the top of the chair in the wee hours. In one sense I “lost” my husband twice — first to the mental illness that took his mind and then to the … whatever-it-was … that took his life.

Before he became ill, I taught emergency preparedness seminars  (emphasizing  hurricane readiness) at civic and private functions throughout our area. The woman who always, always, always urged participants to change their smoke alarm batteries when they changed their clocks for Daylight Savings Time forgot. (*See below.)

That I remembered to buy 9-volt batteries shows I’m “moving forward” again.

That I forgot to install them (after preaching preparedness for years!) shows how slow the grief recovery process can be.

That my dog reminded me of the task shows she is priceless, no matter how annoying at that hour.

(*Use and replace the foods and medicines in your emergency kit twice a year, too.)

2 thoughts on “A Rude Awakening by Dog and Grief

  1. Good story! Yes, every so often our Ernie-dog smacks his lips so loud and often in the quiet of night I get annoyed, and if I get up to move him to another room I’m then completely and truly awake enough that I can’t get back to sleep … so I go downstairs to read … and take him with me … which means I’m now *rewarding him* for the behavior.

    Grrrr! I need remedial dog training for myself.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed learning of my dog’s middle of the night escapade, Ombudsben.

      Your allusion to “remedial dog training” made me laugh. When our now senior-status dog was a puppy, my father teased us about letting his grand-dog rule the household. (He made no comments on the fact that she quickly trained him to bring her cookies whenever he visited.)


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