Every morning, around 4:30 give or take a half hour, I come awake from whatever dream I've been lost in. Just as I'm aware I've regained consciousness, I hear Sparky jump off the sofa where he sleeps, on the other side of the bed.
I don't know how he knows I'm awake. He just does. He's a dog. They know these things.
He comes around to my side, stretches, shakes his collar just in case my keen hearing has been lost overnight, and then makes a happy gasping noise. I hear his tail wag—yes, that's a discernable sound—and he settles his head on the bed. If I don't respond with a touch, an ear rub, he nudges his nose into my side, rather forcefully.
"Get up!" he seems to be saying. Or maybe "GET UP!"
I often do. But sometimes, I want a few more minutes in bed, just enough to come fully awake if I've been dreaming especially hard. So I tell him, "GoBackToBedIt'sTooEarly". Exactly like that, uttered in the same tone every time.
And he does.
He trots over to the sofa, and jumps back in "his bed". Five minutes later, he remembers that I'm AWAKE! and he tries again.
Sometime this repeats a few times, but then I think, if I were a dog and hadn't been able to pee for eight hours or so, I'd want to go out and do my business. And if it had been twelve hours since I last ate I'd be thinking, too, of my empty belly.
And I also think of all the things I could be doing that are more interesting than lying awake in bed. I mean, just imagine what my Twitter feed looks like! And my Facebook friends have probably posted photos of their children, or their food, or their pets.
There was a time, pre-Sparky, that I'd be awakened at 5:30 by the sound of Rule Britannia on the radio, followed by the Shipping Forecast. (My ode to the Shipping Forecast is here.) That leisurely morning ritual is long gone, due mainly to the BBC's decision in 2006 to do away with playing the "UK Theme" during their a.m. switchover from World Service to Radio 4. (You can listen to it here if you're nostalgic.)
So now I get up at 4:30. After all, if you can't listen to the stirring full orchestral version of Rule Brittania, followed by a general synopsis of the pressure areas around the British coast, what's the point of lying in bed until 5:30?
Sparky doesn't care about weather in Cromarty and as he's Irish, Rule Britannia probably wouldn't move him either. The thought of a meal, though, rouses him even more than the percussion section of the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra.
And after he goes out for a quick pee and gobbles the food I put out for him, he's ready for another nap, this time in my bed, where he snoozes until my husband wakes up.
And I sit down to my computer and catch up on the night's news.