To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

It’s no news flash that dogs dream.  Greyhounds most certainly do.  Given the similarity in all racing greyhounds’ upbringing and track experience, it’s not surprising that the nature of their dreams is also similar in many ways.  Blue has always been a prolific dreamer.  I have written before about his racing dreams.  When he first came to live with me, he had racing dreams once or twice a day.  Now in his dotage his racing dreams have slowed down a bit.  But I always know when he’s heard the call to post because he starts dream wagging his tail and then he’s running for all he’s worth, breathing like a true champion athlete.  The pace of the run slows and then stops.  I know if he won the race (or at least enjoyed it) by whether or not his tail wags at the end. 

Blue greyhound-who me?
Blue has several other types of dreams in his repertoire.  I have named them based on observation, so scientists and haters of anthropomorphism don’t flame me.  He has barking dreams, growling dreams and The Wolf Howl Dream. 

Blue’s barking dreams, as best I can tell, are happy affairs.  In consciousness, Blue rarely makes much noise.  He can be incited to roo on occasion.  He has taken to whining since Bettina joined us and showed him how much fun that can be.  And I have watched him bark his fool head off at a greyhound race he was not taking part in and at a few lure coursing and straight racing events. 

But in his dreams, Blue barks up a veritable storm. He takes in a huge breath of air and then barks with his mouth closed.  It’s almost the sound equivalent of skipping rocks.  The first bark is the loudest followed by a series of 3-4 more barks which get consistently smaller and lower in volume.  He can sleep bark for a dogs age.  Sometimes it degenerates into Blue blowing air out his mouth and flapping his jowly cheeks.  It's like when your shades roll up unexpectedly.  Often it is accompanied with some tail wagging. 

His growling dreams are far more sinister.  My peace loving, never hurt a fly, goofy big lug becomes something terribly fierce and scary to behold.  In these dreams, he starts by growling with a closed mouth but it isn’t long before he progresses to snarling, showing all his teeth and gnashing them.  His growls rumble out of him from deep inside.  My sweet loving boy becomes a vicious wild beast.  I wonder at such times whether this is just the opportunity to step outside his normal self and get his ferocious on or whether he’s facing some horrendous thing in his dream and is trying to protect himself.  Grammy tells me this dream should be considered proof that he once growled at her.  I remain a skeptic.

Blue greyhound-I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about!
Blue’s last dream is the one that chills my blood though.  I have named this one The Wolf Howl Dream (and yes, it gets capital letters).  But for a few eye and ear movements, you probably wouldn’t even know he was dreaming this one.  At the end though, he lets out a long, low howl.  It is so mournful and evokes such feelings of loss and sadness that your heart breaks just hearing it.  Instantly visions of a lone wolf in deep snowy backwoods country come to mind.  It has always made me think of death and thus, I don’t like it.  What scares me most is that this dream was extremely rare when he was younger.  Maybe once or twice a year.  In the last year, its frequency has increased to monthly and in February, he had 2 such dreams. 

He always wakes himself up with that howl and he looks around bewildered.  I’m never sure if he’s bewildered to find himself back in our living room or if he’s bewildered by who/what made that noise.  Was my poor boy channeling the ancestral wolf in every dog?  Was he facing a vision of his own demise that seems to be getting closer and closer?  Or was he mourning the loss of something very dear to him?  Something that seems to haunt him more as he grows older.  Mumma will never really know.  With each Wolf Howl Dream I make sure he is fully awake and I rush to comfort him which is really more mumma trying to comfort herself and shake off the specter of my silly boy grown old too soon.


  1. We too experience all of these dream types except for the Wolf Howl dream. I'm not sad that we miss that one.

  2. We have had those different types of dreams here, too! Perhaps he's just getting in touch with his inner wolf. I mean, if you dreamed you were a wild, feral creature and woke up in a fluffy bed, you'd be disoriented, too! ;)

  3. It's crazy how vicious they look sometimes while dreaming

  4. I was just thinking about the dog dreaming thing. My dogs usually don't bark or growl but they do cry in their sleep. It would freak me out of they howled in the middle of sleeping!

  5. Makes me wonder what we humans look and sound like when dreaming!


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