Doggie Dilemma

We have two dogs. Fenway the dalmatian and Haley the golden retriever. Although MJ and I are grown human beings, we do not run our house. Will runs the house. But the damn dogs are not far behind.

It wasn’t always that way.

We had Fenway first and we rescued her from the Brockton MSPCA. Right from the start she was a lot of work, but she was manageable. We trained her pretty well in that she would sit, stay, do down and even shake her paw. Haley does the same. And before we had Will, we developed a nice little routine. Three walks a day, two meals a day at 6 am and 6 pm and the dogs either slept in the dog bed or we allowed them at the foot of our bed. We were responsible dog owners then.

Now? Not so much.

Fenway has turned into an absolute nightmare. I don’t know why, but she wakes up at 3:15 a.m. like clockwork every single morning wanting to eat. First she walks into our bedroom. Then, if we don’t wake up, she begins to growl. Then, if we still don’t wake up, she barks. Here are my problems:

I can’t just let her bark because she’ll wake the neighbors (remember, we live in a condo) and more important, she’ll wake Will up. Normally I’d just put her in the crate and teach her a lesson, but the barking is out of the question. First I just let her out thinking she had to go to the bathroom. Nope. She just wanted to eat and wouldn’t pee or poop until she had food. I can’t muzzle her because it’s not safe to muzzle a dog for that long. So we tried squirting her with a water bottle because she hates that. But all that makes her do is go out of range and growl from there. Then we bought a shock collar and we thought that would be the end of it. But damn if dalmatians aren’t stubborn as all hell and not even electric jolts keep her quiet.

So because I can’t let her bark her head off, I give in. So I end up feeding the dogs around 4 a.m. after I’ve lost almost an hour of sleep while battling Fenway.

But it doesn’t end there.

Fenway sleeps in her dog bed during the night, while Haley sleeps at the foot of our bed. But once they’ve been fed and gone to the bathroom early in the morning, it’s a totally different story. Fenway refuses to go back to sleep in the dog bed. Instead, she demands to sleep with us in the bed. And unlike Haley, she will not settle for the foot of the bed. Oh no, that’s just not good enough.

You know what, instead of me trying to describe it, here’s a picture:

Yep, that’s right. Fenway needs to sleep between us. She also needs to be under the covers with her head on a pillow. And she stretches her paws straight out. Which means MJ sleeps with paws in her back while I’m left with a sliver of bed. And keep in mind, Haley is laying by our feet. That’s two 55-lb dogs joining us on our bed every morning.

And a lot of it is our fault for being bad dog owners. We allow this to happen. But I swear Fenway knows she has me in a corner with the barking. I end up having to give in and so Fenway just keeps on doing what she’s doing. We don’t have a downstairs or a second floor either, so that’s out. And I’m so tired in the morning from fighting with the dog, something’s gotta give.

MJ and I think about rehoming or surrendering her but I don’t think either of us has the heart to actually follow through with it. She’s a rescue dog and she’s 8 years old. We saved her and we probably added 2-3 years to her life but making her lose 15 lbs. For better or worse she’s our dog, but lately it’s been worse. Much, much worse.

Haley, on the other hand, is what all dogs should aspire to be. She’s like the younger sibling who gets straight As and makes the oldest child look and feel like an idiot. We could even have her off-leash if it wasn’t for Fenway’s bad influence and tendency to bolt when she gets free.

They truly are our four-legged fur babies. Sure they make me want to jump off a bridge at times, and they limit where we can travel to and how long we can stay out, and they make a mess of the house, cost a fortune to feed, ring up some hefty vet bills, I’m constantly picking up their poop….

Hmmm…now that I list that all out why the hell do I have dogs again?? Oh yeah, for times like this:

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17 thoughts on “Doggie Dilemma

  1. So weird that you posted this today of all days! I was laying in bed last night fighting for leg space with my Bassett Hound trying to get my very old, very deaf Dalmatianette into bed so she’d stop pacing back and forth on the hard woods thinking that I needed to post a dog blog too! Perhaps I’ll wait a few weeks!

  2. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of comments on possible solutions. So, no 2 cents here. :)

    All I can say is…man, that sucks. I had a 100 lb. German Shepherd/Great Dane that used to do the same thing…except I was single when I had her, so I didn’t mind it so much. If I still had her and she tried to do that, I might just go insane.

  3. I am not a pet lover (I know, it’s ok to hate me) so I don’t really know how you feel but I will say this: when I have to make a hard decision I try to make a decision rationally but I always keep in mind that what feels wrong is usually wrong- at least at that time. So I guess what I am saying is, if it looks good on paper it probably is, but if it feels wrong to you and MJ than it probably is not what you should do. A lot of things look good on paper but living them is a totally different thing. Good Luck!!

  4. We’re having the same problem with one of ours. She gets up at 6:00 am just on Saturdays and Sundays. Have you thought about Doggy ‘Ludes? The vet has ‘em and they work! You can get all natural ones too!

  5. Wow, that really stinks! You need the dog whisperer. You can watch it on Friday nights on Nat’l Geographic Channel. Dog Owners are supposed to not ‘Humanize’ the dogs and are instead supposed to respond to them with calm-assertive energy. Every time she growls or barks you should make a sound and get her attention (or, rather, deflect her attention from what she is doing). Watch the show or contact them – it’s probably a lot easier than getting rid of a member of your family.

  6. 1 doggie cage, 2 rolls of Acoustical soundproofing material.

    Problem solved.

    Although, I’m a cat person so I may not be the best person to comment on this, lol. My parents bred dogs when I was growing up and I’ve had enough of that.

  7. It sounds like me but i just kick the mini hound outta my way when i need to. But the nagain i end up like this morning with just the sheet while the other two bed dwellers are toasty. :<

  8. That is a benefit of us small town folks. I banished my dogs to the outdoors but I could never get rid of them so I understand that. I hope you find a solution becasue 2 furry kids and 1 human kid is hard work.

  9. I feel your pain. I was in a situation similar to yours with a dog we took in as a rehome to be a companion to a dog we already had. I really intended to offer him a forever home and tried with all my heart to love him as much as my first dog. I struggled for two years and then decided he needed a home where he could be fully loved and understood. We found him a new family (his third) last fall and while it was a little bit odd to let him go it was the right decision for me and my family. Rehoming this dog left me feeling a little bit like a failure – why couldn’t I handle this dog and learn to love him, annoying habits and all? – and guilty. But it was the right thing to do. The guilty feelings slowly gave way to relief.

    It’s a very, very hard decision. One that no one should take lightly.

    I hope that after posting this I don’t get bashed by others saying what a horrible person I am. I did feel like a horrible person when I sent him to a new home but it was best for everyone involved. Every animal deserves to be loved completely. And now that he has a new home, that dog is.

    Good luck with whatever you choose.

  10. Why not just put them down? Problem solved. I have a few shovels, we can get a bag of lyme. you can put a nice plaque in the yard. I’m just sayin….

  11. Oh, no, a shock collar is not a safe, effective and humane way to train your dog! This is not directed at underground fences outside where your dog can understand set boundaries, but randomly shocking your dog for bad behavior will get you nothing but BAD behavior.

    I cringed when I read your post saying that you tried a shock collar to help with this problem, and to see this salesperson above trying to promote the use of a shock collar for an obedience problem makes me want to puke.

    Shocking your dog for bad behavior makes your dog want to bite whatever is near it, and it can make a dog completely crazy. I’m fine with outdoor underground fences as long as you follow the very strict training guidelines so that your dog actually understands what is going on as far as where the boundaries are, but please, please do not shock your dogs for unwanted behavior, especially a breed like a dalmation.

    Okay, I’ve calmed down now. Did this behavior possibly start when you stopped getting up with Will in the middle of the night? If so, the dog probably got set on that time clock and thinks she’s doing her job. They can be alarm clocks to the second. Or maybe one of your neighbors gets up at that time and she can hear them.

    If food is really her goal, then you could get one of those toys that you can put bones, peanut butter, cheese, whatever inside of that takes her a while to get out, keep it hidden in your nightstand or whatever and as soon as she starts up, make her lay down and give her the toy only after she’s quiet. They have really good ones that take quite a while for them to get all of the snacks out of. As long as you give it to her when she’s not barking or growling and she’s completely quiet, it might just teach her that quiet is what gets her the food.

    If that doesn’t work, you’re going to have to teach her to shut the fuck up when you snap your fingers. Believe it or not, that works way better than yelling at her. Practice during the day when she’s being annoying, snap your fingers in her face and give her the down signal. If she does it, she gets a treat. Practice, practice, practice, and you should be able to shut her up with just a snap of the fingers. I can yell at mine for an hour with no results, but that snap gets their attention instantly.

    Sorry for the blog post, but you hit a huge hot button when I heard shock collar. Positive training works if you just put in a little time, I promise. Consistency is key.

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