Like most normal people I have a nightly routine. Around 9 PM I take my dog, Silver, an 11 year old, 111 lb. Silver Labrador Retriever for her last walk of the day. Then I get ready for bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, do all the things that need to be done, and crawl under the covers by 10 PM. I usually scroll for about an hour, then read for another, and finally turn the light off by midnight.
Last night was no different, except I was unusually tired. I scrolled, and I remember picking up my book, but I don’t recall what I read. And I certainly don’t remember putting it down or turning off the light. But of course I must have because I was sleeping soundly and dreaming deeply.
Without warning and abruptly waking me from a heavy REM slumber I felt a wet nose nudging my arm and it was quickly followed by frantic licking on my hand. For some reason Silver was waking me up. I looked over at the clock — 3 AM. Not thinking clearly about the reason why she might be waking me I told her to go lay down. Annoyed, she turned on her paw and padded out of the room.
I was in that half-awake dream state and desperately just wanted to be asleep. But something was niggling in the back of my brain. It was not like Silver to wake me like that in the middle of the night. She’s my trusty alarm clock. Every morning at 7 AM she wakes me without fail for her morning walk.
As thoughts of her needing to go out drifted around my semi-consciousness I must have fallen back asleep because before I knew it Silver was again nudging and licking me with determination. It was 3:30 AM.
I gave her a pat on the head, sat up, and turned the light on. Her tail was nervously wagging for me to hurry up. I groggily got dressed and found Silver anxiously waiting for me at the front door. I clipped the leash to her collar and we went down the stairs and into the cool night air.
We reached a little strip of grass running along the sidewalk and she casually walked over to it and peed. She was in no hurry whatsoever. I turned to go back home, but she pulled me in the other direction. We went for a walk.
It was a beautiful night. Calm. Quiet. Not a sound to be heard. It was dreamlike.
And then I started to wonder. Am I lucid? Semi-lucid? Am I really out here walking my dog in the middle of the night? Is this real? Am I dreaming? Sleepwalking? I didn’t know.
It’s been years now, but well into adulthood I used to have a habit of being quite the sleepwalker, and sleep-talker. Many times I would have full-on conversations with… well, whoever I was envisioning. It was usually Aliens, Spirits, or even God. Sometimes in the morning I would wake with a vague memory of it, while other times I was in such a deep state of dreaming that I had no idea I was gallivanting around, walking and talking, in my sleep.
I’ve lived with a few different girlfriends throughout my life and they’d often tell me about my late night escapades. They would wake up and find me, completely sound asleep, walking around the house, or just sitting and having a conversation with someone they couldn’t see. It always freaked them out at first, but after a few times they got used to it and would just gently guide me back to bed. And in the morning we would talk and usually laugh about it.
Now, living by myself, it’s an interesting phenomena to experience. But not knowing if I was sleepwalking or not is also kind of scary.
Silver tugged on the leash, breaking my train of thought, and pulled me over to another strip of grass. She sniffed around and the next thing I knew she was licking my arm, waking me up. It was 7 AM. Time to take her out. I told her five more minutes. She gave me a look and left me to my thoughts.
I think I remember her waking me up and going out for a walk. But I don’t remember coming back home, going up the stairs, or even getting back into bed and falling asleep. Was I just dreaming it all, or did I actually take Silver out for a late night walk? I honestly don’t know.
Silver licked me again. I had fallen back asleep. Another hour had passed. I crawled out of bed, got dressed and met her at the front door. It was wide open, keys still in the lock. Questions flooded my thoughts. I clipped the leash to her collar, closed and locked the door, and we went down the stairs for our morning walk.
As I sit here and write this, I’m still unsure as to whether or not I was (Sleep) Walking My Dog in the Middle of the Night.
Lon Casler Bixby is a professional photographer and published author in various genres: Fiction, Poetry, Humor, Photography, & Comic Books.
You can see his writing here — www.amazon.com/author/loncaslerbixby/.