Misery from Kansas … Part II

C.A.R.E. transport
C.A.R.E. transport

As we pull out of the Petco parking lot with Emmy in the back in a crate, she starts to whine, cry and dig.  Alan and I just look at each other with the silent thought, “I hope that doesn’t continue the entire way home.”  One can only imagine what it must have been like for the transport vans with 20 dogs (+/-) in each one coming across Kansas.  My guess is once the initial miles are laid and the vehicle settles into the hum of the road, the dogs all quiet down.  Sure enough, that’s exactly what Emmy does within ten minutes of our departure.                   

Upon arrival at home, our dogs are run outside, given potty treats and allowed to calm.  Because we have prepared for Emmy’s arrival before we left, getting her into the house and comfortable is a matter of long-established routine.  She’s taken outside on a leash and walked in the yard until I know she’s fully toileted.  I bring her in the house and she goes into a wire crate in the front room that’s covered on three sides with heavy towels.  While I’m getting food and water set up in the crate, the other dogs slowly check her out.  Ali and Frankers are old hands when it comes to integrating fosters into the pack.  As long as the new dog is well socialized with other dogs, there are few problems.  The house turns in for the evening around 10:30 p.m. and Emmy is moved to a crate in our bedroom.  She goes in with no fuss and — to our surprise — sleeps the night through.  That certainly can’t be said of all new fosters!                     

The next morning Emmy is fed along with the rest of the dogs in the kitchen … she’s ravenous and quickly cleans her bowl up.  Not knowing what she’s been fed, how much or what her digestive status is, I start her out slowly.  What I don’t want is to overload her system with quality food, causing a bout of diarrhea.  A call is made and she’s lined up for her rescue exam in two days … exam, heartworm test and dewormed at a very minimum.  I take photos to document her condition.             

Because I was advised Emmy appeared to be housetrained, she is allowed to be off leash (tether) in the house the next couple of days.  Also making the freedom possible is the fact she sticks to me like glue so monitoring her toileting habits is easy.  She’s plumb wore-to-the-bone tired and spends much of her time sleeping.  Between running the streets for who knows how long in Kansas, the malnutrition and a stressful trip across two states, there isn’t much energy left in this little dog.  The second night she disappears from the office where I’m working.  Ever mindful of the ongoing toilet training, I go looking for her and this is what I find … she’s found the best spot in the house.  Imagine the long sigh that surely had to come from her as she settled into the down comforter and slipped into a peaceful sleep.                    

                     

During the rescue exam on Friday, it’s found that both eyes are infected.  Not a surprise given the redness present or the fact she’d not been groomed regularly (if ever at all).  She’s a good girl and patiently endures the poking, prodding and blood draw for a heartworm test.  Our biggest surprise, however, was finding out she’s in heat!!  Alrighty then … will have to let hubby know that under no circumstances are Dante and Emmy to run together.  And if it does happen, then he’d best be getting his hands on one of them pretty damn quick!  Will be interesting to see how Dante — as an intact male — handles himself while she’s in heat.   Because of Emmy’s severely emaciated condition, she can’t be spayed any time soon.  Better that she’s in heat now while we’re fattening her up than in three to four weeks when we go to spay her.                    

All lined up at the cookie bar …

Over the next three weeks, Emmy settles into the household routine.  Within a week, I start seeing sparks of what her personality is … she loves to play with toys, will race around the yard just for the joy of it, and gets along with the rest of the pack.  She really is house trained as well as crate trained so the transition is pretty uneventful.  Since she’s not gaining weight as quickly as I’d like, I end up at the local feed store in search of a high-fat/calorie puppy food.  I hit the jackpot … they’re very generous with their samples packs when I explain what I’m looking for and why.  I begin to see a “softening” of her bones as she starts to fill out and is further substantiated when I pick her up … she’s definitely gaining weight!  I keep telling her she’d better hurry up and grow some hair, too, as winter is on its way.         

To Crate …

… or not to crate, that is the question!  And one frequently discussed when it comes to housetraining issues or adding a new dog to a household.  Many folks view them as “cruel” but — when used properly — they can be your best friend’s best friend.  Seriously. 

Dogs are hardwired with an instinct to “den.”  In the wild, a den (often dug underground) is a safe place … one used for sleeping, raising their young, and protection.  That instinct can be shaped to an owner’s benefit and, at the same time, provide the dog with an area they can call their own.

The canine is an innately clean creature and will generally avoid soiling in the place where it sleeps.  A crate, used in conjunction with a consistent housetraining program, teaches the young dog — or an adult — what is and what isn’t appropriate toileting.  Use of a crate also allows the owner to monitor the dog’s progress more closely and make adjustments accordingly. 

Another aspect of crate training that is often overlooked is the safe haven it provides for the dog.  They view it as their own personal den — a safe place — where they can go to nap or remove themselves from situations which make them uncomfortable such as a very active house, holiday gatherings, small children, thunderstorms, etc.  A crate-trained dog also undergoes less stress at the vet’s office or the groomer.  What’s the first thing the vet or groomer does when you leave your dog there … put them in a crate!  A dog comfortable with a crate will usually settle down quickly.  One that’s not familiar with a crate undergoes a much higher level of stress and anxiety in an already stressful situation. 

Nap time!

A crate-trained dog is easier to travel with as well as being safer in a vehicle.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories recounted of a person traveling with dogs loose in the vehicle.  An accident occurs and the dogs are: (1) killed outright from being thrown around the vehicle or ejected from the vehicle; (2) they get loose and run off, never to be seen again, or (3) shot by the highway patrol because they’ve become a danger to other traffic on the roadway when they can’t be caught.  My dogs settle down and sleep in their crates when traveling, making me a better driver as I’m not distracted by them.  Once you arrive at your destination, a crate can be used to keep them comfortable in the hotel room … their home away from home, if you will.

I didn’t use to believe in crates.  Indeed, my first Apso never saw the inside of one and slept with me nightly.  It wasn’t until she was gone that I realized how disrupted my sleep was — I no longer woke up many times during the night to see where she was before turning over or moving in bed.  Ali arrived as a crate-trained adult with the instructions to give crating a try.  Okay, easy enough to set up a crate (or three) in our bedroom.  We’ve never looked back and all dogs, whether mine or a foster, are crate trained.  Indeed, my dogs will put themselves to bed (crate) at night on their own and I often find them napping in them during the day.  Nor is it unusual to find the resident feline curled up in a crate, sleeping.  Ali has a “nite-nite” routine … she’ll run around the house looking for just the “right” toy.  Once found, she comes to the doorway of the front room and stands there, looking at us with the toy in her mouth.  We’ll wave and say “nite-nite” and off to crate she goes, putting herself to bed.

The other night, after staying up late and watching a movie, I was closing crate doors and neglected to shut Franker’s door.  The only reason I know that is because finally, at around 6:00 a.m., he jumped up on the foot of the bed and snuggled in.  His choice was to sleep in his crate rather than our bed the majority of the night.  Ali flat refuses to sleep on our bed despite coaxing on our part.  The lights go out and she’s off the bed, headed for her crate.  That’s her bed … no bones about it!   If the boys get too rambunctious in their play, she goes to her crate removing herself from the chaos.

I also crate my dogs when I’m not at home for longer than an hour or two.  I don’t have to worry if Ali is eating something inappropriate … the boys haven’t injured themselves or broke something with their boisterous wrestling … and the foster dog hasn’t toileted inappropriately.

Kennel up!