Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Safe Spot

When Duncan was young and we'd just built our house we kenneled him. Those first few nights were rough, perhaps more so on Ken and me, but we all eventually transitioned to it nicely. I come from the school of thought that a kennel should be a safe haven for a dog, a cave for them to retreat to when they're anxious or frightened, and should never be used as a punishment. Duncan had a great kennel, with lots of big pillows and his Winnie-the-Pooh and even when he got older and we left the door open at night, he chose to sleep there. It was all his. No cats or humans allowed.

After we sold the house and moved into a much smaller apartment we didn't have room for the kennel so we put it in storage, until I eventually gave it to my former boss, whose family adopted a Golden puppy. Duncan, though, still craved a special spot of his own and chose, instead, to sleep under the bed, which was fine, except when he'd climb out in the middle of the night, bumping his head, rattling the box spring and making all sorts of noise. He was fine with that arrangement until last year when I got a new bed with a much lower clearance, effectively cutting him off from his safe spot. I hoped he'd adjust and invited him to share the topside of the bed with me, but that didn't solve our problems.

Every time it thundered, or a loud truck would drive through the parking lot, and especially around the Fourth of July, Duncan was miserable. He had no place to hide and his anxiety began to make me anxious. I had nothing to offer him except the underside of the coffee-table in the living room. He was miserable, I was miserable, the cats were miserable. So I began the search for a new kennel. I have a very limited amount of space and wasn't looking for a full-sized one, just one where he could retreat when he needed to get away from it all.

Chelsea at Hero's Pets eventually sold me the perfect place for Duncan. It's a canvas collapsible kennel, the perfect fit for Roo, with screens on all four sides and on top, kind of a like a big, square tent. I tossed in his pillow, slipped Pooh Bear back in the corner, laid down his blanket and the afghan my mother made him last Christmas and led him inside. He loved it! He spun in a couple of slow circles, tamping the pillow down just so and then plopped down, his chin resting on Pooh's foot, a sleepy smile on his face.

But Dunc isn't the only one who likes it. More often than not I have to remove Olive and Pip, who curl around each other in tight little balls, the afternoon sun beating down on them. Winnie, who has always been the smartest, chooses to sleep up top, thus avoiding any forced relocation. Dunc is polite and doesn't want to disturb Olive, who is stubborn and aloof, and often peeks inside, sees her there and either hops up onto the bed with me or scurries back to the living room to crawl under the coffee-table. I've actually had to teach him that it's okay to give her the boot, which seems to suit him just fine. Now he ambles in on his own, rearranges the pillow and plops right down, Olive or no Olive. And she has learned that her old spot above my head on the pillow is ready and waiting. Winnie, of course, stays right where she is, barely batting an eye.


David said...

Cool! Is there a model for two-leggers?

Miguel said...

We've always used crates when our dogs were young -- mostly for potty control -- as they grew they self-weaned from the crates. Tristan, however, has always loved his crate. He used to alternate between his & Duncan's (who seldom used his.) Now Tris uses it only during the day when we're gone, sleeping between us at night, hogging the bed.

caboval said...

OH! I never knew they made such a thing!!! Im so glad that you got that for Duncan it seems as thought he is enjoying it. When my babes were puppies they wanted NOTHING to do with kennels!!! I thought oh, they would make it their safe spot. But I guess their safe spot is close to me which I dont mind one bit :)We had thunder once here and they both did want to be under my legs at the same time,now that was a challenge!!! Love Valerie