One of my recurring nightmares involves a scenario in which there are several dogs in my care, usually one large and several smaller ones, which are kept in my basement. I suddenly realize with horror that I have forgotten to feed or let them out for days and days. (My house doesn’t have a basement in real life, and I currently don’t have any dogs.)
They have never barked or done anything to remind me they’re there; the realization just dawns on me suddenly, and I rush down to find them in various states of neglect. Sometimes they’re just really hungry and anxious (and messy); sometimes they’re doing rather poorly and need medical help; once, I remember, I found a skeleton wearing a dog collar.
Now, I am not a neglectful pet owner. The dogs I’ve had have been very well cared for, very much a part of my daily life. All would have liked go on longer and more frequent walks, but otherwise they were healthy, happy, and loved very much.
I suspect I have these dreams when I’m behind in my client work, or am feeling there are things I’m not paying proper attention to in my life; the basement symbolizes the unconscious. Last night it was a large Lab and two cute furry dogs, toy breeds, and they were excited and relieved to be let out, but were none the worse for wear. I assume they were hungry, too, but they were more excited to be let out in the back yard.
In the dream back yard, which did not resemble the back yard of anyplace I’ve ever lived, there was an old stone fireplace that could be used for barbecues. I caught a young guy stealing the last of the stones; apparently he had been dismantling the fireplace piece by piece all night long. I was more mystified than angry, and went to tell my father, who in the dream was a high-powered businessman presiding over some sort of meeting, and couldn’t be bothered with my story.
In real life, there was a stone fireplace on what I called the “secret back patio” of my childhood home. The back yard was extremely long, and bordered some woods on two sides; the sunken, multilevel patio was a glorious private playground for me, far away from the house, where my fantasies could take flight. The fireplace dominated the back of the patio, and Morning Glories grew wild over it, their lacy tendrils attempting to claim the fireplace and draw it back into the wild world of the woods.
Last night’s fireplace resembled the one in real life somewhat, though its setting was completely different. I assume that the dismantling of the fireplace, together with my father (who died in 1982) being alive and powerful and uncaring, means I need to look at some of the baggage I still carry from childhood, and unpack it piece by piece until I get to the foundation.
Or maybe it just means I shouldn’t keep dogs in the basement.