It took 19 years of nagging, but I finally got my husband to agree to let me purchase a German shepherd puppy. The breeder said it was the smartest puppy he'd ever seen, so naturally we named him Einstein.
Einstein and I were inseparable. By the time Einstein was 8 months old, he had never left my side at night. Initially, he had spent nights in his crate, one foot from our bedside. As the summer nights got increasingly hot, I let him sleep outside the crate. He happily obliged, curled up on the rug, where he could open an eye and verify that I was sleeping next to him.
When fall approached, the nights became increasingly cold beneath the window where he slept, so I purchased a dog bed for him. He was undeniably excited with his bed and relished the announcement of "bedtime!," at which he'd race upstairs and immediately bound into this padded "nest," curl up and sigh with pleasure.
It was shortly after he'd gotten his own bed that our 11-year-old daughter injured her foot while doing karate. X-rays showed that it wasn't broken, but she was sent home from the emergency room with crutches anyway. She was in great pain, and the novelty of using crutches had worn off before she'd made it home from the hospital.
Einstein, of course, had never seen crutches and couldn't understand what was happening. No amount of discouragement could keep him away from her. He interminably smelled the wooden crutches. He circled our daughter and followed her wherever she moved around the house, making it even more difficult for her to maneuver.
Nighttime came, and I helped my injured child into her bed where, exhausted, she almost immediately fell into a deep sleep. I called Einstein, and we went to bed in our room as usual. He obediently laid down. I was almost asleep when I heard him get up and walk away. That was so unusual that I sat up and watched to see where he was going. He headed directly to our daughter's room, and I heard him plop down. I waited a few minutes, then walked quietly down the hall to check on him. After all, he was still a puppy that chewed things.
He was lying, stretched out and at peace, on the floor at the bottom of her bed. I patted his head and returned to my own room. Einstein stayed in our daughter's room the entire night.
When the clock radio started playing in our room the morning, Einstein came scampering down the hall to greet us in his normal, happy manner: cold nose and wet slurp across the face.
He is a shepherd. And he had kept watch over the injured lamb all night.
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