Indianapolis — My wife was exasperated. “I can’t handle this any longer,” she said. “I’m all for love and commitment, but enough is enough.”
“I understand, Mary Ellen. I feel terrible.”
“Dick, I know that snoring is not intentional. But it has some devastating effects on a marriage. What are you going to do about it?”
“I’ll call the vet first thing in the morning.”
Toby shot me a glance. He knew we were talking about him. Dogs always sense that. I felt bad for the pooch. But things had gotten out of hand the last few weeks. It wasn’t his occasional snort that kept us awake; it was a full-blown, get out of my way, foghorn. He was also waking himself up every night, which made him cranky the next day. He really needs his 19 hours.
What led to the sudden onset of Toby’s problem? His recent knee surgery had slowed him down a bit, resulting in a modest weight gain, which is a factor in snoring. I had observed no increase in smoking or alcohol consumption in the hound, another common cause.
True, I had promised Mary Ellen I would call the veterinarian, but first I did an advanced Google search to see if others were lying awake at night thinking about this problem. Apparently, there’s a real wave of sleep disorders in the canine world: narcolepsy, insomnia, night terrors and restless leg syndrome. Jet lag in toy poodles is reaching epidemic proportions.
The first thing I learned was that dogs with short, flat faces — bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese — are more apt to snore. That makes it sound like bedding down with a horse is a better option for a good night’s sleep.
One site suggested preventing your dog from dozing on his back with his paws up in the air, Toby’s favorite slumbering posture in his doggie bed. When the snoring commences, roust the dog out of his deep sleep, then abruptly flip him over on his stomach. Mary Ellen thought this sounded like a good idea, because that very same method worked on me several years ago.
I’m no canine expert, but if Brutus the rottweiler is keeping you up at night with his snoring, you might heed the time-honored maxim: “Let sleeping dogs lie — and snore.”
In order to keep your dog on his tummy, one pet owner suggested gluing a tennis ball on a leather belt and wrapping it around the dog’s torso, so the bulge on his back would prevent him from rolling over. I tried this with Toby but he was pretty adept at twisting himself into a knot, snatching the ball from the strap and then dropping it on my head so we could play fetch at two in the morning.
One woman recommended nasal strips, but sticking one of those on a beagle’s nose is like trying to keep a bandage on a peeled banana. Another idea was giving your dog a nice foam rubber pillow to prop his head up at night, thus opening his nasal airway. Toby loved the pillow. Every bite of it.
My wife concluded that the only way to solve this problem was to sleep in separate rooms. She was right. The next night I got some great zzzs. I’m not sure about Mary Ellen and Toby.