The Bed Dog is the night-time companion who sleeps alongside his or her people, giving them comfort and warmth, protecting them, grounding them. Welsh Springer Spaniels have long been prized for their Bed Dog abilities. Large enough to not be bothered from being rolled over on, small enough to still leave room for rolling, Welsh often have those qualities that make them true Bed Dogs. 


Unfortunately, because there are no AKC-sanctioned titles that recognize these skills, the actual definition of true Bed Dog is open to some interpretation. This has not stopped some from proposing certain title categories and petitioning AKC for their recognition. Realizing that there is still considerable disagreement and controversy surrounding these descriptions and their attainment, three Bed Dog titles, in ascending skill level, may be defined: BD, BDX, and UBDX. 




BD (Bed Dog) - Dog remains on bed through much of the night. Usually sleeps at the foot of the bed in the traditional ‘stone’ or ‘ballast’ position, serving as an anchor to hold down blankets and sheets. Tolerates occasional kicks. Does not choose night as the time for excessive grooming or personal hygiene. 


BDX (Bed Dog Excellent) - Dog remains on bed through most of the night. Frequently sleeps parallel to bed partners. Accepts hand holds, body blocks, sudden crunches. Takes advantage of nooks and crannies when in tight quarters. Will not interfere with rising when the alarm goes off.


UBDX (Ultimate Bed Dog Excellent) - Dog turns down covers for bed partners as sleep preparations are made. Remains on bed through all of the night. Almost always sleeps parallel to bed partners pointed in the same direction. Is oblivious to all movements or motions of bed partners. May be hugged at any time. Is able to detect the difference between a weekday and weekend morning and will assist with wake-up accordingly. 




As these descriptions may suggest, the actual definition of a true Bed Dog is somewhat subjective. It is also clouded by the often dream-like state in which it is experienced. And then there are the obvious problems of observation. Who is to say that a dog has remained on a bed ‘much’, ‘most’ or ‘all’ of a night unless one has stayed conscious the entire night? 


These problems touch on the major obstacle to AKC-sanctioning of these titles, the issue of judging. It is, of course, not acceptable to simply take one’s word that this or that dog is a good Bed Dog. And the few times it has been tried, an actual judge spending the night in one’s bedroom has caused such awkwardness for the people involved that it has influenced the performance of the dog being observed (and this is assuming the judge has also not fallen asleep at some point). "What about video tape?" one might ask. The bright lights required for accurate taping have proven to be unacceptable. And the costs involved with an entire night of infra-red taping are prohibitive. 


And finally, even if these problems were overcome, there is a special quality associated with a true Bed Dog that cannot be quantified. The judge sitting quietly in the corner of a bedroom with a clipboard or the group of judges watching seven or eight hours of video tape cannot truly judge all aspects that combine to make the true Bed Dog. It can come as a sigh, a contented murmur, or sometimes just a quick lick, but usually it cannot be seen, only felt, in the rush of twilight sleep. It comes back to the subjective nature of the Bed Dog experience. 




And so, although we cannot officially attach the titles BD, or BDX, or UBDX, to the ends of our dog names, we can at least take comfort in the fact that we have dogs that serve us well, that contribute to our physical and mental well being, and that, after a good night’s sleep, allow us to awake refreshed, ready to face the day. Good dogs, calm dogs, dogs to which the old saying


Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the Bed Dogs bite!


would never apply.