I’m sitting on the couch and reading – Ann Patchett’s fantastic The Dutch House – and can’t help but wonder how tired Sheepadoodle Toby must be by the end of the day. If ever an animal were made to love, it is Toby who hovers within six inches of a human all day.

But he’s trying to rest now, and can’t, constantly interrupted by sounds outside. He is in high alert with any gust of wind that blows against the door in its jamb. He lifts his head and tilts his ears when he hears another dog bark . Even the girls in their rooms, laughing, disturb him as he searches out soundful nuance for another voice or for danger. Just now he jerked, rotating his hairy face, wondering where that ‘caw’ comes from. I’ll keep reading and let him sleep.

He usually beats me to sleep at night and might wake up to go outside at midnight. He likes it when I wake up and bring him with me to the couch. I let him outside for a few minutes and then he sleeps in the couch, always touching me, while I start my day.