Thursday, March 12, 2015

All Grown Up

For years I'd read training advice about dogs and crates. Our first Lab, Duke, was a puppy before crates had become common. So Tucker was our first "crated dog" and Dylan was our second. Dyna was 9 when we adopted her, so past the need for a crate.

Everything I read extolled the benefits of a crate explaining how dogs loved their crates. They found them secure places that brought them comfort. "Leave the crate open when you're home and you'll often find your puppy in it sleeping or playing with a favorite toy," I would read. Really?

Both Tucker and Dylan had to be bribed (meaning treats) to even enter their crates, at which point we would quickly close the door before the treat was finished and they darted out again. When we returned from an evening out or running errands they would be standing there with that hangdog look waiting to burst out of their prison. As a result both where no longer being crated long before their 1st birthdays.

Then we got Dee Dee. She was the first puppy we trained solely onboard and the first to be crated on the boat. We brought our large folding crate and set it up in the salon thinking we could stow it in the lazarette in a few months. Our little girl proved us wrong yet again.

Dee Dee loves her crate! She brings in favorite toys to play with.

She often naps in her crate.

She slept there during an overnight offshore crossing.

She was even able to coax Dylan into the larger crate we have at the house in Maine.

While this all may seem rather sweet, a crate large enough to hold a grown Lab takes up a lot of space on a boat! Next month she turns two and shows no signs of voluntarily giving up her special place. I thought we were destined to have this crate onboard forever.

The weather has been warm here in the Bahamas, so we've been giving the dogs free run on the boat to find those cool spots. It was also a test to see if Dee Dee could be trusted unsupervised when we were gone. About half the time Dee Dee would be out of her crate when we returned with all being in order. So we went a step further. About a week ago we shut the door so she could no longer enter the crate.

Today we took the next step. We folded up the crate putting her crate blanket on the floor in the same place. So far she is unfazed even ignoring the spot for one beneath the table where there's a breeze.

Our hope is that we will soon tuck the crate into a corner of the lazarette as we acknowledge that our little girl is now a grown up dog and the crate becomes a memory. Our last photo of Dee Dee and her crate was taken a week ago when she brought her favorite beach toy into the crate for a nap.

Dee Dee may no longer have her crate but she can still dream about her adventures, past and future. She's such a big girl!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our Golden, Charlie, is a crate dog...still at almost 8 years old. However, he now only uses it when we're dirt dwelling. He seems okay with finding his napping spot on the boat which is fine with us.