I recognize there are many things I do with and for my dogs that are patently ridiculous. Jim reminds me of this often. But some of what seems ridiculous at first glance is driven by necessity; if nothing else, a necessity for my own mental health.
Morkies are tiny dogs with big hearts. Standing on four feet, their eyes are no more than a foot off the floor. But they love their people deeply, and seem to intensely desire the connection that comes with eye contact. That’s a huge distance to span. It’s why they’re happiest being held like a baby or cuddled on a chest or sitting in a lap.
If I’m up and moving throughout the house, they’re perfectly content to follow me around. But the moment I sit down, they want to be close to my face. And that’s a problem when I’m working on the computer in my studio.
Maggie, in particular, wants me to hold her while I work. If I’m surfing the web, that’s not a big deal – after all, plenty of people have proven that can be done one-handed, if you know what I mean – but Photoshop? Photoshop requires two hands, whether it’s one on the mouse and the other on the keyboard to cycle through tools as you interact with the canvas, or both on the keyboard to select key combinations like CTRL+ALT+Z to step backwards or CTRL+SHIFT+ALT+T to duplicate a transform.
My first solution was to purchase a baby sling. Maggie will actually ask for me to put her in the sling by scratching at my leg until she gets my attention, looking at the sling, back at me, at the sling, and again scratching my leg. The moment I put it on, she sits down prettily and stares at me, waiting patiently to be picked up and placed against my chest. Then she’s happy, and I have both hands free to work the computer.
The sling is a good solution with two exceptions: first, it aggravates my fibro with the amount of pressure it places on my back and shoulders; and second, it leaves out Jack-Jack. He’s not a fan of the sling, but if I’m holding Maggie, he wants to be held, too, or at least be allowed to curl around my shoulders and the back of my neck or sit on my shoulder like a parrot.
One afternoon, in abject desperation following three hours of fighting with the dogs and discovering that locking them out of my studio is a complete disaster, since they sit at the door and scratch and cry, and no, if I ignore them they don’t go away – they kept it up for a full 45 minutes until I was ready to scream – I called my dad.
Daddy not only adores my dogs, but he’s a genius in his woodshop. After describing the problem, we tossed ideas back and forth until we came up with a solution.
He built them a set of bunk beds.
The platform is about an inch shorter than my studio countertop, so when I’m doing photo shoots, I can slide it under the counter to the right of my computer and get it completely out of the way. In use, it sits to my left and holds a dog bed at the height of my elbow. There’s a set of stairs that attach so the dogs can climb up and down without bothering me, and the space beneath holds a second dog bed so they don’t have to share if they’re in a cranky mood.
It’s the best thing EVER. They’re content to be up high, closer to my face, where they can gaze lovingly into my eyes while I work. It’s easy enough to reach over and give them belly scratches while I wait for a file to load. And there’s zero strain on my back or shoulders.
Jim likes to point out that I can be pretty ridiculous about our dogs, and when I said Dad was making me a set of “puppy bunk beds,” he shook his head and rolled his eyes. But the next time I went away and left the dogs with him, he worked from home for a couple days. I got a series of exasperated text messages grumbling that the dogs wouldn’t leave him alone. The final message was a photograph of the bunk beds, dragged into his office, with two happy puppies curled up on the top bunk. “This thing really works!” he wrote.
Yeah, I might be ridiculous about my fur-babies, but it’s not always “ridiculously insane” … sometimes it’s “ridiculously functional” and “ridiculously brilliant.”