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People I Sleep With

PEOPLE I SLEEP WITH was published in 2004 by Ten Speed Press in Berkeley, California.

It is a black & white photography book about people sleeping with their animals. The animals pictured are not just dogs and cats; in these pages you will see people resting with pigs, scorpions, tigers, goats, geckos, raccoons, parrots, bunnies, snakes, monkeys, chickens, horses, wolves, skunks, alpacas, lions, ferrets, guinea pigs, and koi fish. A book wildly popular with all sorts of humans, I have been told that autistic children and the elderly are particularly fond of this book, and request it as a first choice to read and look at often. And animal people of course. They all love it, and often gift it to like-minded others. 


PEOPLE I SLEEP WITH has long been sold out, 

and is currently out of print, but used copies can be found. 

To sleep peacefully with an animal is to enter the dreamtime of the Divine. It puts us in touch with the Infinite. PEOPLE I SLEEP WITH makes us long for the same experience with humans. Maybe if we took an animal to bed we’d wake up happier.

                - Shirley MacLaine

This is how I came to write this book:

From Foreword:

    In the fall of 1997, I made a trip to Birmingham, Alabama, to stay with my mother Mickey. This particular trip home, I brought a “new” used camera to try out. Photography was one of my few interests that my mother could not only relate tho, but actually praise. Her bedroom walls were covered with my photographs. So I shot a roll of 120 film of Mickey and her beloved chihuahua, Sophie, in bed together early one cool autumn morning.

    Through the lens, I saw my mother succeed brilliantly in the role of dog companion, with more purity of heart and intention than she ever accomplished with other humans. She showered Sophie 

with compliments, attention, patience, and with an affection I rarely experienced as her daughter.

    Two years later, on October 1, 1999, my mother died. We had long before agreed that upon her death, I would bring Sophie back to my home in New Mexico and fit her into my life. Exactly two weeks after my mother died, the tiny dog walked out into my street directly in front of a

pickup truck. It was a clear decision to rejoin her dear friend Mickey. I know. I was there. I held Sophie in my lap while her soul left her body.

    Two blessings came from Sophie’s death. The first was, prior to that moment, every time I tried to be still, or pray, or meditate, or attempted to contact the essence of my mother on the other side, I was overtaken with feelings of fear and confusion. These feelings were not mine. They were

my mother’s. her death had been sudden. It felt to me as if she was unsure of where she was and how she might proceed; this was coupled with a seemingly overwhelming sense of isolation and loneliness. At the instant Sophie left her body, I sensed my mother relaxing on the other side. She seemed suddenly more able to accept and deal with her task at hand.


    The second gift from Sophie was the deep grieving that finally ascended out of my belly and rushed up into my heart. The sobbing that began in

me was gratefully uncontrollable. Several months earlier, my lover had left me. This was followed by the unexpected death of my best friend. Then Mickey. And now this sweet puppy.

    Stunned from the collective losses, I had been unable to really grieve. It was little Sophie dying in my arms that accessed all I had been unable to feel and release. Her death cracked my heart open into a melancholy that was paradoxically laced with joy, the depth of which I had never known.

For Sophie’s sacrifice that day, I will always be profoundly grateful.

    Six years passed. When I opened my camera bag for the first time since 1997, I found a canister of unprocessed film at the bottom of the bag. In my twenty-five-year career as a photographer, I had never left a roll of exposed film unprocessed. Curious, I took it to the lab. It was a forgotten roll

I had shot of Mickey and Sophie in bed on that autumn morning in Alabama. All these years later, the images of their love together made me cry.

    I wondered how many other people in the world experienced this kind of joyous nourishment and sublime delight with their pets. So, once again,

I began to take pictures for this book. Six years after the fact, I decided to finish what I had started, inspired by an elderly woman and a tiny dog with

a giant heart. I felt their presence, and their encouragement, at every photo shoot.

. . . And it turns out who you sleep with really does matter. My friend, holistic veterinarian Dee Blanco, explains that in traditional Chinese medicine,

it is taught that when humans are in a deep sleep, their souls lie at rest in “liver energy.” The expression of this energy includes safety, vulnerability, and tender sacred space. Therefore, “the bed is holy ground, best shared with our beloveds, and with those we most trust —fur-lined or otherwise.”

    A survey in USA Today revealed the striking statistic that 79% of pet owners allowed their animals to sleep in bed with them. And as this project unfolded, the more photographs I took of people and pets in this most intimate interaction, the more it became clear to me that our animal companions are here not only to keep us company, but to teach us about diversity. Just look through these pages: dogs and cats, of course, and a snake, a pig, a lion, horses, donkeys, birds, bunnies, a gecko, a guinea pig, a scorpion. We accept their variety, their textures, their colors, their varied dispositions, and their many individual ways of relating. They lie with children, elders, white people, black people, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, gays, straights, women, men, rich and poor.

    I believe one of the agendas with which animals are Divinely instilled is an innate ability to heal on levels humans cannot yet measure. I’ve seen it over and over again. The feelings we reveal to, with, and about our pets are neither shameful nor silly. Our grief when an animal dies is completely appropriate. We don’t need permission to adore these creatures or feel the loss when they leave us. For those who need it, there is burgeoning scientific evidence on the physical and emotional health benefits of having animals in our lives. For the rest of us for whom these benefits are already crystal clear, we should continue to just our instincts. After all, animals never fail to trust theirs.

In these days of relentless busyness, we share a growing bone-weariness, a soul-tiredness that aches for rest. We need to find permission somewhere, from someone, to take our Sabbath rest. If we will not give it to one another - if we will not give it to ourselves - perhaps we can receive permission from the animals who, for millennia, have heeded the biological call to soul-rest, to sleep.

Jill Fineberg has given us a precious gift; she playfully invites us to rest deeply in the serendipitous delights that emerge from these images. She offers us the nourishing possibility that we may find comfort across the species, as if every being on the earth were capable of offering solace and sanctuary to one another. Take time to savior these photographs and the sweet love within them.

                - Wayne Muller, author of Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

“Often when I am away I miss the cats in my bed. In spite of their

occasional restlessness and mine, I sleep better with my cats than 

without. It is one of the times we are all mammals together, sharing 

the same experience as well as the same space. We take mutual

comfort in one another’s warm presence and soft breathing. Who 

sleeps with whom and where is of paramount importance to cats, 

just as it is to people. It is one of the ways they express their trust, 

their affection, their bonding.

—Marge Piercy, Sleeping With Cats

Perhaps that is the appeal of sleeping with a dog — that it is a mere fur’s-breadth away from the sensual ecstasy of sleeping with one’s children, or the comfort and reassurance of sleeping with one’s spouse, without any of the complications attendant on either of those relationships. Dogs

always think you are good in bed. Dogs do not have nightmares or lose their pacifier in the middle of the night, or hear the wind worrying the windows and think it’s Charles Manson, out on parole . . . They do not suddenly remember that tomorrow is the school Thanksgiving play and

they must have a potato costume by 8:30 in the morning. . . . They are always the right temperature, regardless of the status of the covers. Dogs don’t feel amorous while you are busy reading Dostoyevsky . . . They do not mind if you kick them when you turn over, or if you snore louder than they do. They do not fantasize about being in bed with someone else — someone half your age, for instance. In short, it’s a wonder anyone can stand to sleep with people.

                    — Dana Standish, from Sleeping With Dogs

In a world of so much challenge and change, the human-animal connection remains one of the deepest and most comforting of relationships. The charming, evocative photography in PEOPLE I SLEEP WITH reminds us that animals are often the ones that guide us back to what is truest and most trustworthy in our lives. In these wonderful photographs Jill Fineberg brings us both the healing power of animals and the sweetness of their friendship.

— Jean Houston, Ph.D, author of Mystical Dogs

For each of us — furred, feathered, or skinned alive — the whole earth balances on the single precarious point of our own survival. In the best of times, I hold in mind the need to care for things beyond the self: poetry, humanity, grace. In other times, when it seems difficult merely to survive

and be happy about it, the condition of my thought tastes as simple as this: let me be a good animal today. I’ve spent months at a stretch, even years, with that taste in my mouth, and have found that it serves.

— Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson

 . . . many of us admit our pets into the most intimate areas of our lives. We are not in the least embarrassed when a dog sees us in the shower or overhears an argument. In this, a companion animal provides an intimacy that exceeds any we may experience with virtually any other human being, including our spouses and children. . . . A dear friend once expressed this feeling beautifully. She had been resting on her couch with her dog, and as she looked into his eyes, it seemed to her that she and he could give each other transfusions if necessary, that their very blood must be compatible.

— Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

I am so profoundly moved by the intimate, soulful portraits of the animals in Jill Fineberg's extraordinary book, PEOPLE I SLEEP WITH.  

I continue to learn more from them about Compassion and Honor and real Love than from almost any other Beings I have ever known.

- Ali MacGraw, actor / animal activist

Animals hold us to what is present: to who we are at the time, not who we’ve been or how our bank accounts describe us. What is obvious to an animal is not the embellishment that fattens our emotional resumes but what’s bedrock and current in us: aggression, fear, insecurity, happiness, or equanimity. Because they have the ability to read our involuntary tics and scents, we’re transparent to them and thus exposed —we’re finally ourselves.

—Greta Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces



For PEOPLE I SLEEP WITH, I booked a twelve-city book signing tour, before during, and after which, the following publicity and response evolved:


  • BARK magazine

  • Dog Fancy

  • modern dog

  • Publisher’s Weekly

  • Natural Health Magazine

  • Animal Guardian

  • New Mexico Magazine

  • Georgia Magazine

  • Southwest BookViews

  • Vision Magazine

  • The Howling Reporter

  • El Dorado Sun

  • Natural Triad

  • The Advocate

  • Interactions: The Human-Animal Connection



  • Good Day Alabama, WBRC, Birmingham, Alabama

  • Eyewitness News 4, Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • KOLD TV News 13, Tucson, Arizona

  • KGUN 9, ABC, Tucson, Arizona

  • KMSB TV 11, Tucson, Arizona



  • Transitions Radio with Alan Hutner, Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • JOLT! AM 1330 Radio, Tucson, Arizona

  • Katy Byrne Radio Show, Eureka, California

  • KSFR 101FM, Mary-Charlotte Domandi, Santa Fe, NM

  • KSJE, Four Corners Radio​


  • Alec Baldwin

  • Betty White

  • Paul McCartney

  • Robert Redford

  • Doris Day

  • Ali MacGraw

  • Henry Winkler



  • The Santa Fe New Mexican 

  • The Santa Fe Reporter

  • The New York Daily News

  • The Houston Chronicle

  • The Seattle Times

  • The Dallas Morning News

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • The Birmingham News

  • San Diego Union Tribune

  • The Albuquerque Journal

  • Arizona Daily Star

  • The Plain-Dealer

  • Tampa Tribune

  • Dayton Daily News

  • Tucson Citizen

  • The Austin Chronicle

  • High Point Enterprise

  • Los Alamos Monitor

  • Pasatiempo

  • Greensboro News & Record

  • Lexington Herald-Leader

  • Chicagoland Tails

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