Saturday, September 26, 2009

Crates not approved

Before I got Cotton, I didn't know much about dogs. I'd had a few dogs as a child, but only really remember the one (Ellie the Standard Poodle.... one of the Best Dogs Ever).

When I moved out on my own, I moved in with an amazing lady who had a little dog named Mitzu. I can't say that I was overly fond of Mitzu. That could perhaps be because of how spoiled she was... Mitzu was the reigning queen of our home, and called all the shots. She actually had her own seat at the dinner table. She weighed about 30 pounds (the vet thought she should lose about 10-15), had fat rolls on her forehead and used to drop little poop nuggets all over the house because of anal gland problems. Oh, and she barked. Non stop. And, if I tried to sit on the couch while she was on it, she bit me.

After living with Mitzu for a year, I decided that I wouldn't ever get a dog of my own. As much as I loved Ellie, I knew how attached I get to animals, and how quickly it happens. I was afraid that I'd be stuck with a dog like that and unable to give it up.

I lasted about 10 years.

Then, my sister got a dog. Maddie's a little sheltie/minpin/mystery breed cross. She started off quite nervous and shy, so sister signed her up for dog agility to build her confidence. The training made a world of difference, and Maddie ended up a confident, happy dog.

After seeing how much of a difference the proper training can make (not really understanding what that proper training would be) I decided that I'd get a dog of my own, and give it a shot. That's when Cotton came to live with me.

Since Ellie had been crated at night, and Mitzu hadn't, I concluded that being crated had a big impact on a dog's behaviour. Cotton would be crated at night.

I thought it worked. Cotton was the easiest puppy ever. I could put him in a basket, and he'd stay there for hours. He was paper trained within days, and had full run of the house (even when I wasn't home) right away. But he slept in a crate at night.

Not only was I enamored with the new puppy, Winter the cat was too. Cotton was Winter's puppy as much as mine, and they bonded from the very beginning. (Winter used to sit on top of him and bath him from head to toe every night.)

About the time that Cotton came home, Winter started to yowl at night. He'd screech at the top of his lungs, all night, every night. It was awful. I had to sleep with earplugs every night, and even then, I could hear him. I tried everything everything I could think of; but for three very long years, I never once got an uninterrupted night of sleep. As much as I love him, I gave a lot of serious thought to giving him up; but couldn't bring myself to do it. Sleep deprivation became the norm for me.

Then, I got the crazy idea to get another dog. I'd had a yen for another Standard Poodle for a while, and I finally acted on it. Tallulah came home, worked her way into my heart and took over Cotton's crate. I had a full-sized crate for when she grew up, but it was far too big at first. TI new that it would only be a few weeks before she outgrew a small crate, so Tallulah started out in Cotton's crate. Cotton slept with me, on the bed.

That was temporary, of course. Once Tallulah moved into her own crate, Cotton would return to his.

It wasn't long before I realized that I was sleeping again at night. Right about the time that Tallulah had taken over Cotton's crate, Winter started settling in at the end of my bed and sleeping - quietly - all night long.

Then, a few months later, when Tallulah grew into her own crate, I started crating Cotton at night again. Winter started yowling again. If Cotton slept with me, Winter did too. If Cotton was confined to a crate - even beside my bed - Winter screamed bloody murder. Finally, after many nights of experimentation and not enough sleep; I gave in.

Cotton got his own side of the bed. Winter was quiet.


  1. I remember way back when Himself yowled all night, who would have thought that he just needed/wanted his buddy?!