Our new dog is driving me crazy.
I don’t mean “driving me crazy” in the sense of annoying me, like by stealing my socks or eating my flip-flops. He’s a dog; it’s what they do. I mean that the deceptively endearing little fur ball is playing head games with me.
Last Monday, I stayed up way too late, having gotten caught up in an episode of the U.K. “Antiques Roadshow” (similar to the U.S. version, but with better dressed people whose reaction to a teapot being valued at 1 million pounds is “Very nice, thank you”). I left my husband dozing in his chair and went up to bed already half-asleep, anticipating an uneventful descent into unconsciousness under freshly line-dried sheets and a bedspread I had washed only the day before.
It was not to be.
As I approached the bed, I noticed something wrong. In the 40-watt light from the bedroom closet and the weak glow of the bedside lamp, I spotted a roundish yellow stain on the bedspread.
Curse that dog.
Questions flooded my brain. Why would he pee on the bed, and on my side, no less? How did he even get in here, when we keep the upstairs closed off during the day? Why would he do this one day after my semi-annual washing of the bedspread? And, most important, why did I let my husband talk me into getting a dog in the first place?
Through bleary eyes, I peered closely at the stain. I rubbed my hand over it and found that it was dry, meaning it must have happened quite early in the day. I pulled the quilt back to see if it had gone through to the blanket underneath.
I pulled back the blanket to reveal the top sheet.
I pulled back the top sheet to reveal the fitted sheet.
I abandoned Plan A, to drift off into a peaceful night’s slumber, and went with Plan B, to mutter curses while ripping all the bedding off and tossing it into the laundry room. I remade the bed from scratch for the second time that day, stomping and flouncing for dramatic effect, all the while formulating the scathing tongue-lashing I would unleash on my husband the minute he came up to bed, starting with “This is why I didn’t want a dog.”
I left to start the washing machine and returned to the bedroom with some new zingers for my monologue, when the sight before me caused me to jump backward and let out a sharp cry of alarm.
The stain was back.
I considered the possibilities: (1) The dog had snuck in and done it again within the last two minutes; (2) the second quilt had already been stained, and I had failed to notice it earlier; or (3) I was losing my mind.
I was seriously considering (3) when a fourth possibility occurred to me.
The stain, now that I studied it, wasn’t exactly pee-colored. It was more of a grayish beige. And — tellingly — when I moved the quilt, the stain remained stationary.
I looked slowly from the stain up to the closet light bulb — which resembled the one that was just coming on in my head — and then to the bedside lamp that stood in between them.
I switched on the glaring overhead light, and the pee stain disappeared. Off — stain. On — no stain.
So let’s recap:
I had almost concluded that a house-trained dog had pried open a closed door that morning to commit a premeditated act of vandalism on my bed, had closed the door behind him on the way out and had, even more impressively, managed to take down a folded quilt from the hall closet, pee on it — in the exact same spot as the first quilt — re-fold it, and put it back on the top shelf.
In retrospect, it seemed a bit farfetched.
Instead, working on the premise that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one, I figured out the truth: The dog had merely moved the bedside lamp a couple of inches to the right, knowing that the resulting irregular yellowish shadow on the bed would send me into a late-night sheet-changing frenzy and make me question my grip on reality.
It breaks my heart that behind his adoring and tail-wagging façade, the dog is an evil genius who gets a kick out of playing tricks on me.
But at least now I know I’m not crazy.