Cooper’s First 48

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.

~

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12 Comments

Filed under Our Foster Journey

12 responses to “Cooper’s First 48

  1. This is almost EXACTLY how our first two days with McMuffin went! Like you, we were worried about safety and took the leap to allowing run of the house with foster brother Reese while we are gone. We started out slow, but then had to leave for work eventually and didn’t know what to expect when we got back. Thankfully, all we found were some warms spots on the couch from napping and two happy dogs welcoming us home. It certainly won’t work for every dog pair … but it sure is nice when it does! Good luck with future crate training and please pass along any good tips if you discover them.

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    • Thanks! I’m glad to hear we’re not the only ones with separation anxiety/crate-phobic dogs! LOL We were so spoiled with Tucker, and even Kaylee once we moved her crate into our room…*sigh* just goes to show there is no “one size fits all” method for training dogs. We’re just going to keep our fingers crossed that they continue to get along well, and thank our lucky stars that Oscar is a good, stable influence.

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  3. We had only a little idea about our Toni’s claustrophobia until we put her away in a room at my parent’s house and headed out to lunch. We got a call from my sister an hour later that started with, “You have to come home. NOW.” Never good. And though Toni had literally started to dig through the drywall to get out of the room, we still all agreed she would love to be in a crate when we went out the next night (I still can’t figure out how a whole family full of intelligent people came to that conclusion!). Imagine our surprise when we found a bloody, banged up Toni at the front door waiting for us…and a bed pillow magically locked up safe and sound in her former crate.

    Now we have a second anti-crater in the house with Strut, though thankfully he’s generally non-destructive since we started to leave the crate door open (even if the office door is closed).

    I always thought that if I just put my mind to it, I could figure out how to make the crates work. But there’s no underestimating the power of fear, so now we just do what we can to keep everyone safe and panic-free.

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    • Wow…yeah we keep telling ourselves we should have known better, after we woke up the first morning to find Cooper on the couch instead of in his crate where we left him! We had a dog growing up that would eat through screen windows to get outside when we were gone, and we’d come home to find her sitting happily under a tree in the front yard. You’re right, fear is a powerful motivator!

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