Tag Archive | shelter animals

I Like My Dog Again

Every time I get a new dog, I forget what it’s like to have a young dog that is so much like a toddler. They aren’t potty-trained, they need lots of attention, they need lots of toys, they destroy things, and they often don’t sleep well. Duncan was or is all of these. Thankfully we’ve gotten past the potty-training issue, but everything else is still relevant. Sleep has been bad since Grace started her meds for Addison’s; the steroids make her eat more and drink more and thus need more potty breaks. Also, either they’re giving her more energy or she’s just feeling better, because she’s been sort of bonkers at times. So for the last couple of weeks especially, they’ve been restless between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning. Sometimes they barked so that we’d get up and let them out. Friends, that is not a good time for me to wake up.

Last week was an especially bad week. The girl was out of town for a band event. She was gone three nights. Duncan and Grace usually sleep in her room. We didn’t want three dogs in our bedroom so Jack slept in our room and we left the other two downstairs, assuming Duncan would behave because he’d be SLEEPING.

Oh, how foolish we were.

That very first night/morning, there was barking at 4 am. I got up, went downstairs, let them outside, and saw paper all over the floor of the dining room.

It was books, guys. BOOKS. Not just any books. Oh no, MY dog of course likes OLD books. Old, valuable books that smell and taste interesting! When all was said and done, there were eight books that weren’t salvageable. Two of the eight were literally in pieces. It was a BAD day. I was sad, exhausted, frustrated, discouraged. I was kicking myself for leaving him out unattended, kicking myself for not giving him the exercise I thought he needed. I wasn’t sure if we were the right home for him, or if I had it in me to get past this stage. I was sure I was a bad dog-mom. He went to daycare that day and the next, and I slept in the girl’s room in the attic the second night to catch up on sleep, and those things helped.

Once I’d gotten a little more sleep, and gotten past the fresh wound of seeing my books torn apart, I was feeling more optimistic. Duncan really is a sweet dog, funny and charming and lovable. I do like having three dogs, most of the time. I like the way they play together and snuggle together. And really, I have to believe Duncan will grow out of this stage eventually. So, if Duncan is like a toddler, and maybe Grace is like a preschooler, I decided there was a possibility that having them together was the problem, and resolved to try separating them at night. For the last two nights, Grace has slept upstairs with the girl, and Duncan sleeps in the kitchen. And guys? I think it’s working! (I’m gonna┬áknock knock knock on wood!) This morning, I didn’t hear a peep out of any of the dogs! I am greatly encouraged and really hoping this makes a difference in our sleep patterns. I need my sleep. Seriously.

So because I like my dogs today, I’m going to share some of the fun photos I took this weekend. I pulled out the good Canon to play with settings, and dogs make good subjects. They’re all very photogenic, in my humble opinion.

They were having a marvelous time romping around the yard, taking turns chasing each other and of course chomping on each other. I tried to get some individual shots as well. Jack was not interested in being cute. He’s a very serious old-man pupper. He’s here for the work, not the media.

Grace doesn’t mind the paparazzi, but you have to move fast to get the really good shots. I’m rather pleased with what I got. There were others, but when you’ve got one like this, who needs more?

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And then there’s Duncan, the fresh new star who wants all the attention. He can do anything from playful to serious to tough. He’s very versatile, you know.

So yeah. I think I can do this whole three-dog thing. It might take every last bit of my patience, and we may never own anything nice ever again, but at least I’ll have my puppers.

Oy, that dog!

Okay, so let’s get back to Duncan. My not-so-little terror. The one who was leaving messes in the house when we first got him about three months ago. Want to know the good news? Of course: no more accidents! After about a month, he got used to holding it and it’s not an issue. Hooray!

Want to know the bad news? He eats things. First it was little things, like paper we left on the kitchen table. He chewed up the remote, but that only cost $20 to replace, no biggie. Grace had left a hole in our leather couch back when she was going through her destructive phase, and he discovered that and thought it was fun to pull stuffing out and make the hole bigger. When we covered up that hole, he made two new ones. When we covered the couches with scat mats to keep him off the couch, he made a hole in the arm of the couch. He discovered tasty things like the corners of our wooden chairs, or the wooden railing, or the corners of the TV stand. He pulled several books off shelves and ate them one very bad day, after which we closed the doors to the sitting room where the books are located.

Every time something happened, we talked about our options. For a while, we tried to cope by limiting what we left within reach. When it was obvious that wasn’t the solution, I tried playing with him more in the morning, giving him more time outside before I left, giving him extra toys, saving toys only for when we were gone. We subscribed to BarkBox, and our first box was fantastic. We talked about closing them in with doors, but didn’t want to run the risk of them scratching the vintage pocket doors. We talked about gates and crates. I don’t like the idea of crates, no matter how many times people tell me the dogs like it. Personally, I think they get used it, and maybe they like it for short durations and/or when they’re stressed or scared, but you’ll never convince me that a dog actually enjoys being in a crate for 6-8 hours. (Please don’t try. It won’t work.) So in my mind, that’s a last resort. But friends, we’re almost there.

I recently decorated for Christmas, and put out my large Santa collection on the sideboard. (You can see it here.) I thought for sure it was high enough and far back enough that Duncan wouldn’t be able to get to it.

I was wrong. The next day, a bad day, Duncan got into the Santas and destroyed three of them. Thankfully, they were not my favorites and didn’t hold great sentimental value. But it was enough for us to know we needed to be doing more, that our morning play sessions in the yard weren’t enough for him, and we decided to add more activity. One day the husband took him running before work, one day he went to doggy day care, and the next day I took him for a walk in the morning. That day, after his walk, after the previous day at day care, he got back into one of the couch holes, chewed up a reusable grocery bag, and destroyed a small box of post-its. He may still need a lot of activity, but clearly the activity alone isn’t enough to curb his destructive tendencies. And, get this, we just got new couches, because I couldn’t live with the old couches anymore. I mean, these holes were BIG. And looking at them every day was so depressing. (I know it sounds crazy. But in my defense, we ordered them when it looked like the scat mats were going to keep him away from the couches completely.)

So now we have gates, and the dogs get to stay in the kitchen while we’re gone. Friday was the first day we tried it all day. I latched the gates, put the scat mats in front of the gates, and also closed the doors to the living room. Even if they get past the gates, they can’t get to the couches. The husband is afraid Duncan will still be destructive, just in a smaller area. That is a valid concern, and if we see signs of that, then the crate will be next. But I couldn’t do the crate without knowing I’d tried everything else first, especially since I can’t afford five days a week of doggy daycare. Anyway, so far, so good. They were still safely in the kitchen when the kids got home from school, and nothing was destroyed. And we’ve done it again for shorter periods since then, and it seems to be working. (Knocking on wood and crossing fingers here!)

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Sorry, Duncan moves a lot, so he’s blurry. Yeah, he’s a handful. He’s now a whopping 90 pounds of muscle, orneriness, and sweetness. I can’t help it; I still love the big old blockhead. Grace chewed things up for a good two and a half years, just on a smaller scale, so I’m holding on to the hope that he’ll grow out of most of this eventually. If we have to do the crate, I will do it knowing that it’s what’s allowing us to keep him in our home, rather than taking him back to the shelter. That’s not an option for us. So I can get him a super big crate, and fill it with a blanket (that he’ll tear up, which is why I’ll get it from the thrift store) and toys (that he’ll probably destroy) and he will be safe and my house will be safe and maybe we can all live happily ever after.

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