This is the loveseat where I usually sit in the living room. I have my quiet time there in the morning, I sometimes sit there during the day to work on my laptop, and I watch TV and knit while sitting there in the evening. Usually, I sit with my back against the armrest and my legs stretched out in front of me because my mother trained me not to cross my legs and to prop my feet up whenever possible (blood clots run in my maternal family).
In the morning when I have my quiet time, Smokey joins me. He wedges himself between my hip and back cushions, and he begs for me to pet him as I meditate or pray. This has been part of our routine since he was a puppy, and on the days when I have too full a schedule to have my devotional time, Smokey always seems a little out of sorts. Not having his morning "mom time" seems to upset him slightly for the rest of the day.
We've developed a different routine for the evening. Usually I sit there watching TV or reading blogs, and Smokey sleeps at other end of the loveseat next to my feet. About 9:00 or 9:30, I often curl up on the loveseat with my head on a pillow facing the TV and my body in fetal position. Smokey moves from his spot so he can curl up next to my chest. Usually after a few minutes, he will roll over on his back and turn his head to the side so he can tuck it under my chin. Then he snores contentedly for as long as I'll leave him undisturbed. He seems to find great emotional reassurance in this evening bonding time, and if I go too long without curling up in fetal position, he grows restless. He'll start repositioning himself and sighing loudly every 10 or 15 minutes, as if to remind me that I'm neglecting our time together.
In other ways, he is a dog that is very attached to his routines. He subjects our behavior to intense scrutiny, looking for signals about what routine we're following. He can tell, just from our morning activities, whether it is a work-at-home day, a go-to-church day, or a go-somewhere-with-Smokey day. Often, when we are finishing getting ready for church (or some other outing), he will run into his crate without being told about five minutes before we walk out the door.
Routines can be helpful for people too. They help us to be more efficient and productive, and they help us to predict what the people around us might expect from us.
But being too rigid about routines, as Smokey often is, isn't a good thing for humans. Frankly, I am not a morning person. I tend to get up earlier than Michael does, but I like to have a slow-paced, quiet morning with a minimum of interaction. Sometimes I really have to bite my tongue when Michael gets up and starts moving around the kitchen before I feel emotionally ready to have him there. One staple of my morning is making cappuccino. We use filtered water, and if Michael wanders out to the kitchen and empties the Brita pitcher just as I'm about to get water for the espresso machine, I tend to feel really annoyed. I know that he has medicine he has to take first thing in the morning, but I still sometimes resent it if he delays my routine by five minutes.
When I get like that, I have to remind myself that as helpful as they are, routines are not more important than people. Routines are meant to serve human beings, not the other way around.
Now if I could just convey that lesson to Smokey . . .