The first transition came one night when she was horribly sick. I couldn't leave her side because she had an awful reaction to a certain medication, and I had to watch her all night long in case she got worse. She had thrown up all over my apartment, so I put her in the crate to at least keep the vomit contained. Then I moved her crate into my bedroom and laid next to her on the floor until the morning when I took her back to the vet.
The next change happened a few months later. I bought a dog bed for Claire and put it right next to my bed. I think she realized that it was a step up in the world, because she immediately knew that it was her special place to sleep and curled up on it instantly when it was bedtime. What a good girl.
Whenever I fell asleep, I would hang my arm off the bed so that I could touch Claire while she was sleeping on her dog bed. After a couple months, I realized that I never moved during the night because I always kept my hand on Claire. And when you wake up with an arm that is completely numb every single day for a few weeks, you realize that something's gotta give.
That's when I started letting her sleep in my bed. After the first week or so, I noticed that were both sleeping better. While I was reading or checking my email, she would snuggle up with me - but as soon as I turned the lights off, she would move to the end of the bed, curl up, and fall fast asleep.
Claire slept at the end of the bed for awhile, despite my attempts to get her to stay up by me. Our trainer used to say that this shows that Claire respects me. But as time went on, I would wake up and find that she moved during the night; each morning I would find her paw resting on my hand or arm while she cuddled up against the pillow next to me.
Some trainers would say that this is her trying to show that she is "alpha" [a word that I come to hate more and more, since I do not believe that it applies to all dogs or all situations]. Some would also say that having Claire share my bed is wrong because it makes her think that she is my equal. But what it comes down to is that we bring each other comfort. And, you know, I don't see any problem with that.