Since they were puppies, both our dogs have been crate trained. I started it with the little one, Lucy, because at the time I got her, Chris and I were dating long distance in college and every 2 or 3 weekends Lucy and I would pack up and head to his house about 4 hours away. I thought having one portable crate that she could recognize anywhere would make her feel more comfortable. And I was right. No matter where we went (and we went A LOT), there was Lucy’s little house and so she always knew where her own spot was. She loved her house and while we travel considerably less now, she still identifies that house as her space. She loves it so much that she sleeps in it during the day, when she naps, or when she’s sick. And at night when I say, “Lets go to bed,” Lucy goes hauling booty up to her little house where she nose dives into her bundle of blankets and burrows down like a gopher, tail wagging the whole time.
When we got our big dog, Molly, several years later, we naturally crate trained her as well. Her crate was obviously much bigger and so less portable, but that was her house, her space. And she hated it. When she was a puppy she didn’t mind it so much, but now that she’s pushing 70 pounds, I think the idea of cramming herself into her house (even though it is the right size for her) makes her upset. She’d much rather sleep on the bathroom floor. I think its the puffiness. Lucy’s bed has lots of blankets and sheets in it for her to burrow. But when we tried to fluff up Molly’s bed, she just pushed everything to one end and slept in a tiny ball on the hard plastic floor of the other end. Very strange. When I say, “Lets go to bed,” Molly runs the other direction. Sometimes I can get her into our bedroom where we keep their crates, but she just stands at the crate door and refuses to go inside. You have to kind of gently push her in. She hates it.
Sometimes we have tried letting her stay up and not putting her in her crate when we go to bed, but she never knows what to do, so we end up putting her back in her crate a few minutes later because she just stands next to the bed staring at us. But last night we decided to try it again. We decided that this time, no matter what, we would not put her back in her crate. Maybe she just needed to get used to not being crated and if that meant her walking around or staring at us for a few hours, well that’s okay. What happened last night is best described in a timetable:
10:30 PM – We head to the bedroom. Lucy gets in her crate. Molly stands at her crate door, waiting to be forced inside. Instead, Chris and I go about our business of getting ready for bed and then we shut out the light. Molly stands there. And stands there. Ten minutes later she comes over to my side of the bed and stares at me. I can hear her thinking, “Um…Mom? Did you forget something?” But I ignore her, and 10 minutes later she walks over to Chris’ side of the bed. “Um…Dad? Whose gonna lock me up?” And when that causes no reaction from us, she goes and bangs on Lucy’s crate with her enormous paws, trying to wake Lucy up. She succeeds and I’m glad Lucy was securely in her crate or she might have taken Molly’s face off. Molly moves on. She walks around for 20 minutes before wandering out of our bedroom and into the spare room where she jumps up on the futon and actually falls asleep. Time check? 11:15 – not so bad!
1:00 AM – I wake up to a large crash. Molly has flipped the futon. It scared her so she comes running into our bedroom, slipping and sliding on the hardwoods floors. She is wide awake now.
1:30 AM – Molly discovers Chris’ sock drawer has been left open and begins to pile socks next to me on the bed.
2:15 AM – She realizes that she can go anywhere in the house, so she ventures down to the living room where she digs up a bone from the couch and brings it back upstairs to the bedroom. Now, we have hard wood floors, so every movement she makes is heard in the “tap, tap, tap” of her nails against the floor. She sounds like a 70 pound mouse scurrying around. And when she brings the bone upstairs, she proceeds to drop it all over the place and each time it lands, it crashes so loudly that it sounds like I should be at a wedding reception, throwing plates and yelling “UM-PAH!” I get up and take her bone away from her.
2:30 AM – Molly begins moving every single toy she has from downstairs to our bedroom. One at a time. Tap, tap, tap…down the stairs. Tap, tap, tap…up the stairs. Tap, tap, tap…down the stairs. Tap, tap, tap…up the stairs. Finally, she runs out of babies and begins examining them one by one. Fortunately, Lucy tears out the squeakers in babies in about the first 5 seconds that we give it to the dogs, so most of her toys are silent. But yesterday, as luck would have it, she got new Halloween babies. And there was one that had miraculously kept its squeaker. And this is the only toy Molly wanted to play with. I get up and take her baby away from her.
2:55 AM – Molly begins to bring me all her babies. I wake up to a giant stuffed green Halloween eyeball next to my face, and Molly’s enormous head next to it. I know she was being sweet and I know she was just trying to share. But at 3:00 AM, I was in no mood for eyeballs or laborador retrievers. So, I knock her baby off the bed and roll over so my back is facing her.
3:05 AM – Molly starts hitting me with her giant paws.
3:35 AM – Molly disappears downstairs. At a more decent hour, I will discover that she has gone downstairs and taken every single pillow off the couches and piled them in the center of the living room, where she then stuffed every bone and baby she owns into the pillow pile. I can only assume next that she dove head first into this pile and began rolling around wildly because everything was flattened when I saw it.
4:05 AM – Molly decides its time for a walk. She drags both her and Lucy’s leashes up to our bedroom, letting the metal part bang against every stair and drag loudly across our hardwood floors. She piles the leashes next to me on the bed and waits. I roll over.
4:30 AM – Molly hits me again with her giant paw. I hit her back. She goes back downstairs.
5:45 AM – Molly drags her pile of pillows upstairs to our bedroom, where she lays them in sacrificial fashion in front of Lucy’s crate. Lucy apparently has had enough and decides that she’s ready to wake up, too, since she is clearly not going to get any sleep. Lucy starts whining. I let her out of her crate, and since its a little light outside, I go downstairs and open the backdoor so the dogs can go outside.
6:15 AM – Having been woken up and already having done her morning business outside, both dogs come back up to the bedroom and sit next to my side of the bed staring at me. Lucy is whining to be fed and Molly has a soggy stuffed pumpkin with spider legs hanging out of her mouth.
7:30 AM – Molly hits me in the face with her giant paw. I cry. Chris starts barking at the dogs. The dogs go crazy. Chris barks louder. I cry harder.
8:00 AM – I admit defeat and get up to feed the dogs and get dressed for the day.
Needless to say, Molly will be sleeping in her crate tonight. And every night thereafter. Please notice that Chris is not mentioned anywhere in this story except when he chose to take action by BARKING at our dogs. Needless to say, Chris will be sleeping on our couch tonight. And every night thereafter.