With so much talk about Barley lately, I felt a little guilty not mentioning Dougal more. Truth is, Dougal tends to get more attention at home since he’s so needy of affection and praise. Dougal will frequently climb onto my chest and bury his face in my neck, just wanting to be held. Who can resist that? So sweet! Barley, however, stays across the room, staring at me with a look that says “you’d better not even try that crap with me, lady.” (If you’ve ever had the pleasure of picking Barley up, you know he goes stiff and desperately wants down. He doesn’t do the whole snuggling thing. He barely tolerates me petting him except right before he falls asleep at night, when he wants his belly rubbed.) Dougal is the lovebug in the house.
When I first got him two years ago, I left both boys home alone together all day. Both were left loose. One day, I came home from work to find every inch of floor in my bedroom covered in shredded paper. Dougal had gotten into the closet and, over the course of eight hours, shredded books, a printer box, and several magazines, and ripped out a section of moulding in the bathroom. That night, I bought him a crate.
Since then, Dougal has spent days in the crate, at first to stifle his destructive puppy tendencies, and later to protect him from Barley. Before I leave in the mornings, I leave both boys with an assortment of chews and treat dispensers. Barley is an aggressive thief and will ruthlessly steal any food item Dougal has. Now that he’s older, Dougal has started resisting the bullying and I didn’t want them fighting over kongs while I was at work. Feeling guilty about his confinement, however, I came up with what I hope is a brilliant plan.
Instead of closing Dougal’s crate, I’ve left the door slightly ajar, leaving him protected from Barley while he eats his treats, but able to get out later once the treats are devoured. The first three days, Dougal didn’t leave the crate. I’d come home from work to find him sitting quietly in the corner, waiting for me to let him out. Over the weekend, I would put him in the crate, partially close the door, then wait for him to nudge it open with his nose. Praise ensued. I thought he’d mastered the door nudge, but Monday and Tuesday, I came home to him still sitting in the crate. I was starting to wonder if he really wanted out or not.
Finally, though, I came home Wednesday to two sleepy and free dogs. I’m hoping this works out and Dougal can take advantage of the shelter of the crate long enough to eat his treats in peace, then spend the rest of the day tormenting Barley like any good kid brother. It’s adorable to see how much he loves Barley. In fact, when Barley was at the vet all day for his dental cleaning, the gal at the front desk actually said, “Oh my gosh, what is Dougal doing without his brother today!” It cracked me up. Those two are inseparable. I know Barley loves him back, grudgingly.
A quick funny sidenote…While walking the dogs this morning, I passed a motorhome for sale near the high school. It’s $3,900 and says “Hot n’ Spicy” on the side. I might need that. Hot n’ Spicy. Have a great holiday weekend!