TNB Night Owl – Dogs Will Play While I’m Away

Heidi, sitting up on top of her dog crate. Photo by the News Blender.

Heidi had a wonderful time today, while i was gone. Most days, someone is always here to make sure the dogs don’t get into any mischief, and usually that someone is me. The pack, which now numbers thirteen, are generally well-behaved. Those who are most likely to get into trouble are put in a separate kennel by themselves if I expect to be gone for very long. Normally, I don’t leave the dogs unsupervised for more than about an hour when I have to go into town for supplies. Maybe a few times a month that hour is stretched to two or three hours (at most) for time-consuming errands. Then there are those very rare occasions when I don’t know how long I’ll be gone and no one else will be there. Today was one of those days, having to involuntarily leave them alone for what turned out to be nearly eight hours.

We’ve had Heidi two months now, and although she’s a good girl she’s still young and very much a playful puppy. She’s grown bigger and stronger in that time, although it’s now clear she’s not going to become huge as first thought but just an average size for a pittie. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day she taught herself to effortless leap up onto her crate, as pictured above. (It’s not a very good picture, as it was taken at a distance and dogs never stay where they were when one tries to move in for a close up – they are always compelled to get up and come greet the photographer.) Not all of the other pack pooches have accepted her yet. Some of our rescue dogs are big, strong, and have been known to be grouchy toward impertinent newcomers, so for her safety she’s still kept in a kennel by herself when not closely supervised.

Heidi has previously demonstrated extremely high intelligence and an aptitude for puzzle solving, combined with the skill of an Houdini. Fortunately, escaping to the outside world is not her goal: she merely wants to be with the other dogs and have a grand old time. Her kennel is adjacent to what I call the ‘old kennel’ – the very first kennel I put up, made of old-fashioned chain-link fence-style panels. Let me tell you, chain-link is no challenge for Heidi. At some point today, while the owner was away, she “modified” the kennel panel keeping her apart from Riley, Rusty, and Greta, by creating an escape hatch. This effectively gave her free run of most of the kennel, as the chain-link gates of the old kennel are flexible enough for a determined dog to squeeze through the lower corner. And squeeze through she did, several times I think. Fortunately, Riley, Rusty, and Greta are some of our most friendly and easy-going personalities, although Rusty is a bit high-strung and slightly neurotic.

In the old kennel there are a pair of dog crates (identical to her own) that sit side-by-side with a flat plastic pallet laying across the top of them. The pallet serves as a table top where all the dog food bowls are kept neatly arranged in rows, ready to be filled at the next mealtime. There’s also a plastic box, like a shallow milk crate, that holds various dog toys. Heidi jumped up on the table, knocking some bowls to the ground, and leaving her paw prints in most of the others. The dog toy box was also knocked off the table, with toys strewn around the 18×24 foot kennel space, and an empty, chewed-up dog food bag laying in the middle. Rusty and Greta looked relieved that I’d returned, as Heidi has the ability to completely wear-out everyone who has been paired with her for play dates.

That dog food bag had come from an adjacent “room” (with tin roof) of the old kennel where leashes, harnesses, and dog food are kept. For the past month, Riley has also been sequestered in there to aid recovery and healing from a knee injury. (We’re short on spare kennel space.) Heidi had squeezed in and out of this room as well. Several more empty chewed-up dog food bags lay on the ground in there. However, no dog food was eaten in this episode of Your Pup On Speed. I stack empty dog food bags in that space in the name of Repurpose, Reuse, Recycle, and she just got a few of those empties. Actual dog food is kept in food-safe plastic 55-gallon drums, rendering it inaccessible to unauthorized consumption.

Considering the evidence, it’s clear that Heidi and company had a great time while I was away. What little damage that was done can easily be repaired (and reinforced). Heidi had a very busy day and is sleeping soundly. A pretty good day, all in all.

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About Richard Doud 622 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.