! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tyra Banks Ate My Cell Phone

Yes, I adopted a puppy in November. Call me crazy. Devastated after losing my 14 year old terrier to the ravages of canine diabetes, I did not relish the idea of spending the winter alone in the woods without a dog to snuggle up with, which ( for dog lovers) does help stave off cabin fever and the accompanying doldrums.

I knew I wanted to rescue a dog in need and had no plans to adopt a puppy. No plans to house train in below zero conditions. No plans to bring a confused, abused and possibly insane animal into the home and yet- the best laid plans...

After searching the shelters for possibilities, I saw her. Small and frail and afraid, she called out to me as they often do. I took one look at those enormous, heavily lined eyes, her gorgeous hair (er, I mean fur) and seeing the possibility of intense beauty behind the fear, I proclaimed her new name was Tyra Banks and brought her home.

Naturally, all hell broke loose. She was fewer than 10 months old and had clearly been mistreated by some monster with no name. Tyra was afraid of the outdoors, had never seen a toy and had no clue where to pee. My severely lacking patience, combined with grief and loss over her predecessor all combined for an emotional roller coaster that had me tearing my hair out with frustration.

Having had (and trained) dogs my entire life, I was adamantly opposed to crate training and was always happy to expound on my totally uninformed position that it was “cruel” and “inhumane’ and just plain wrong.

This was, of course PTB (Pre Tyra Banks). Naturally, everyone I spoke with had an opinion, one which often had the word “crate” in the sentence. I pretended to listen knowing all the while that they were clearly mistaken and that crate training was not an option for me.

Tyra continued to pee wherever she cared to and destroy Christmas ornaments, shoes, caps, gloves and scarves, while I gently wept, walking her dozens of times throughout any given 24 hour period with virtually no success.

My fingers flew over the keyboard as I surfed the web for total strangers’ advice. More allusions to the “C” word. Hmm. I read. I mused. I caved. according to “Crate training can be an efficient and effective way to train a dog. Temporarily confining your dog to a small area strongly inhibits the tendency to urinate.” So far, sounding good.

Still believing that “father knows best”, I acquired the crate but did not put her in it. Then Tyra Banks ate a box of Hanukkah candles, peed right in front of me and devoured my cell phone. I had done enough research at this point to know that I could not introduce the dog to the crate through fear. Having visited and, not to mention I had picked up a hint or two.

I introduced her to the crate, made it inviting with blankets and toys and threw in a boney for good measure. Slowly, over a period of days, she went in by herself, making a little nest, taking a short nap. If she didn’t “go” during one of our numerous visits outside, I would suggest the crate for a while and try again. In just a few days, Tyra Banks chose to pee outside and was amply rewarded with praise.

I continued the experiment, giving her short bursts of confinement while working, since she would not leave me alone and insisted on “acting out" right in front of me, chewing up my brand new slippers and munching on clothes pins. She was not “punished and banished” to her crate for such behavior- she was admonished and then later- lovingly crated while I worked, in order to to avoid a slip.

Weeks have gone by. Tyra Banks pees outside. If she is cranky or mischievous, I recommend a “time out” in the crate, but never force her. If I catch her dragging a boot through the living room, she drops it and steps into her crate all by herself and takes a little self-imposed nap. This morning, while the ever-present plumber was here, I couldn’t find Tyra Banks. I looked upstairs and down, calling her by name, whistling and starting to worry that she had sneaked outside.

I found her, sound asleep, in her crate with the door somehow closed -without any assistance from me. Did she close it herself? It wasn’t actually latched, so my guess is yes. Does crate training help? My guess is yes.Is Tyra banks a good girl? She sure is getting there.


Anonymous said...

very useful post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did any one hear that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.

Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practise anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)