White Dog started awake at the same time I did...at the sound of Quinn's pitiful bark of fear. I turned in bed and there he was standing right next to me, eyes wide and breathing heavily. He whined sadly. White Dog shifted to the bottom of the bed and I hoisted Quinn up to rest along my length next to the soundly sleeping Steve. The Mighty One struggled a bit before realizing he was in my arms then tried to melt into me. He laid his head on my chest and listened to my heart as he softly cried and shivered.
There is nothing more heart stopping than the sound of one of the White Dog Army in distress. It is a sound, a feeling, that cuts through the entire house and instantly captures my attention no matter how I am engaged. The protector in me rises up as I mentally gather my warrior's sword, my doctoring skills, and my nurturer blanket (not knowing which I will need) and rush to the rescue.
Tonight it was my blanket of calm loving support that was needed. Quinn had experienced a nightmare and awakened disoriented, fearful, and needing reassurance. For a long time I lay against him, holding him tightly and speaking softly. Telling him that he was safe...he was loved...he had nothing to fear...that it was just a bad dream. I stroked his ears and slowly felt his breathing slow as he relaxed. His body stopped quivering but he remained joined to me not willing to break our connection.
After a while Quinn fell asleep in my arms as I rhythmically stroked his side. I felt White Dog pressed against my lower legs; she, too, returned to sleep. I sensed that both of them had returned to the sense of safety and peace that normally fills the night. On the floor around us slept all of the others, adding to the completeness and forming a ring of protection.
I listened to the silence and considered our bed, now an island of sanctuary...overcrowded with white fur and humans but secure and confidently protected from things that go bump in the night. I thought about what an amazing thing it was to have the magic to reach out and take away another creature's fears. The satisfaction and sense of achievement I felt knowing that I was able to provide a haven for my loved ones filled my heart with happiness as I, too, gave myself over and went back to sleep.