Monday, October 08, 2007

No more crates

The dog crates are folded up in the guest bathroom (aka storage closet). For years, they were fixtures, pieces of furniture that always had to be considered when rearranging a room or starting the next phase of a remodeling project. My husband would say, "Let's extend the upstairs loft and make it a real second story." And I would say, "Sure, but what about the dog crates? I suppose we could put them in the dining room..." But no more.

No, no, the dogs are still here. They used to stay in the crates, separated, when we went to work. Felanie had a soft mesh crate that was really just for show (in fact, I left the top flap open and she never bothered to jump out), a way of reassuring Dozer that he wasn't the only one required to stay put. Dozer had a solid, thick wire crate; he was a Houdini, but the metal was stronger than he was.

But one day my husband commented, "Dozer hasn't chewed a windowsill or power cord since he was a puppy. The dogs have never been in a fight, not in all seven years, not so much as a grumble exchanged between them. Felanie is the laziest old lady in the world, and Dozer follows her every move (when he's not following yours). We've never caught the dogs on the sofa at any point in time; I don't think they even realize that it's physically possible to touch the couch. Why are we crating them again?"

So we're giving it a trial run. The dogs are both loose during the day. Let me be clear, this is NOT something I recommend for everyone with multiple dogs, especially multiple pit bulls. Especially with younger pit bulls in a less stable pack, this could easily lead to disaster--a bloody fight, and no one home to stop it. But both of my dogs are old (Fel is nine, Dozer is seven) and their ranks in the "pack" are completely stable. Felanie is a senior dog and is totally uninterested in any sort of physical roughness, and I know that Dozer, though he himself is rather rambunctious and uninhibited, has always shown great concern for the well-being of Felanie. He respects her immensely; he may be the "chief," but she's the village elder.

Yes, it's still a risk, but it's a small one, and one I'm willing to take. Dozer and Felanie both seem happier about it, and I have to say, it's cut their barking (through the front window, at strangers walking by) down to almost nothing. It's as if they now realize that people walk past all day long, and gee, it's really not a big deal after all. So far, it seems that they spend the whole day sleeping in the dining room, waiting for us to come home. We haven't found any chewed windowsills, underwear with mysterious holes (another of Dozer's old favorites), food missing from the counter tops, dishes shattered on the floor, or dog fur on the couch. So far. Five months and counting.

To be honest, I expect the kitchen garbage to be the first victim of this experiment, it being so enticingly smelly, nose level, and easily tipped. Then I suppose we'll have to rethink the crate thing again.