Wow, what a weekend.
Cooper you are one interesting dude, and you have had a very interesting first few days with us. After meeting a few different dogs at The Shelter on Friday morning, Oscar selected you as our next houseguest. I think your compact size combined with your submissive nature sealed the deal for him. After we got you home, you spent the rest of the afternoon snoozing away on the couch with Oscar. I was thrilled - you two got along so well! Then, when your polite leash skills allowed me to take you both on a walk at the same time by myself (something I had not yet been able to accomplish with any other foster dogs), I couldn’t believe my luck. With Foster Dad’s hectic work and grad school schedule, it had been so tough in the past to make sure both dogs got plenty of walk time, but now I’d be able to walk two dogs at once! Woo-hoo!
Foster Dad got home from work and fell in love with you instantly, just as I did. You reminded him of a certain previous guest of Foster House who he took a particular liking to, just a smaller size. He congratulated Oscar on a wonderful selection, and at the end of the evening we got ready for bed. “Bed time” at Foster House means The Crate for foster dogs, so we set you up with a clean fluffy bed in a nice quiet corner of the kitchen. Since you had already eaten your dinner in The Crate and you didn’t seem too upset by it, we thought we wouldn’t have much of an issue.
Well you showed us, didn’t you? You cried and cried, but Foster Dad and I were strong. We shut the door to our room and put pillows over our heads, determined to wait it out until your wore yourself out and settled off to sleep. Imagine our surprise when we woke up in the morning to find you on the couch! Seriously, how did you do that?
We didn’t have too much time to dwell on the specifics, you hadn’t destroyed anything or left us any messes to clean up, so we packed you up and headed out for your first public appearance – an adoption event at the local pet store. By the end of it you were exhausted. We brought you back home and poured you back into your crate, assuming you’d sleep off the afternoon. After all, we had some errands to run and a social engagement for Oscar, so off we went.
By the time we got home…oh boy.
Despite the destruction (including broken glass) and the few drops of blood on the floor, we were relieved to find that you weren’t hurt. Sure, a few dishes were broken and we’ll need to replace some blinds, but stuff is just stuff – more than anything we were worried about you. What could have caused you to freak out so? Obviously, you are not a fan of The Crate – this much is clear. But even after you liberated yourself, you went berserk! You knocked over an entire container of dog food, yet you didn’t eat it. There was a full bag of treats and a chocolate brownie on the counter (which I know you were up on top of) yet you didn’t touch them. A big fluffy couch was right in front of you, yet you didn’t destroy it. And again – no number one or number two left on the floor! Hmmm.
Our first thought: separation anxiety. After all, you were left all alone in a new place, you must have been scared and confused. So for that night, we tried what had worked in the past – we moved your Crate into our bedroom so you could be with the rest of your pack, and settled down to sleep. Well, Oscar, Foster Dad and I settled down to sleep…you, on the other hand - not so much.
I think most professional dog trainers will tell you that the worst thing you can do for a dog who “complains” about being in a crate is to give in and let them out when they cry. However, I personally believe there is a difference between “Hey, I’m not ready for bed yet, I don’t like it in here!” and complete and utter distress. Cooper, my friend – You. Were. Distressed. And after witnessing what you had done when we got home that evening, seeing that even bleeding didn’t stop you from gnawing your way out of that metal crate, we knew you wouldn’t stop until you were free. And you know what? We’re not professional dog trainers. We’re just a foster family trying to do the best we can for dogs who need help. So at that moment, we made the decision that we thought was best for you - we let you out of your crate.
Was it the “right” thing to do? Maybe, maybe not. Will we try to work with you in the future to get you to where you can stand being confined? Possibly. But for now, Cooper, in the interest of your own safety, congratulations – freedom.
On Sunday we did a trial run before we had to leave you alone for a whole day of work on Monday. We puppy-proofed the living room as best we could, we raised the blinds so you could see out, and left Oscar with you as a calming influence while we went to the grocery store. Since you two seemed to get along so well, and Oscar is a pro at chillin’ on the couch while we’re out, we thought if you started to get nervous, perhaps Oscar could show you there was nothing to be worried about. We were gone for about an hour and a half and were thrilled to find zero destruction when we came home.
So this morning we are trying the same thing. Luckily, I work so close to home that I can come home at lunch time to check on you guys to make sure everything is copacetic.
Never a dull moment. Welcome to the foster family, Coop, and thank you for keeping us on our toes!
For information on adopting Cooper, contact
Agape Animal Rescue.