Monday, February 8, 2010

Indoor Dog, Outdoor Dog

Because of all the recent snow and cold weather, and the recent death of his companion Ruby, a couple of nights ago we decided to see if our remaining outdoor dog Jesse would like to start being an indoor/outdoor dog again.

I brought him into the house during the afternoon so he could get used to the change before bedtime. He's a nervous dog, very worried about trying to do the right thing, so he stuck very close by my side all afternoon. So intent was he on staying within a few feet of me the whole time, that he neglected to tell me that he needed to go out, even when he couldn't hold it anymore. Not exactly helpful, but hey, a dog makes mistakes sometimes.

We also had to deal with jealousy from our small indoor dog Leeloo, who wasn't happy about sharing her space and her people. Jesse was not interested in being mean to her, but he constantly growled at her to stay away from him, which she didn't always obey. Because Jesse could easily bite her in half if it came down to a conflict, I had to keep a very close watch on both of them.

Jesse was also having a hard time adjusting to indoor temperatures. We thought we were being merciful bringing him in from the cold, but all he could do was pant and drink bowl after bowl of water!

At night, Leeloo sleeps in her own bed, shut in our small home office. She likes a private place so she can sleep uninterrupted. In light of Jesse's accident on the floor earlier, I decided he could sleep shut in the bathroom, where the tile floor would allow for easy cleanup. I put a bed in there for him and left him settled in for the night.

Or so I thought.

In the wee hours of the morning, Jesse began to howl, long and mournfully. This caused Leeloo to start barking. It was not a peaceful night for any of us!

In the morning, when I let Jesse out for a bathroom break, he raced straight over to his outdoor pen and asked to be let into it. I took that as a sign that the whole indoor dog experiment was a failure. Whenever possible, I like to let the animals tell me what they want, and Jesse was clearly saying he had not enjoyed being inside, and he wanted to go back to his old routine as an outdoor dog.

It was still pretty cold out, but I figured he knew better than I where he was happiest. So last night, I left him outside as usual, with his big shed for shelter and his enormous fenced run.

Imagine my surprise when, first thing this morning I hear a sound on the back porch and there is Jess, escaped from his pen---something he has not done in about 2 years!---and begging at the back door to be let inside!

Apparently during the night he'd had second thoughts and decided he'd like to give the indoor dog thing another try. So now he's napping beside my chair, with one ear and one eye always cocked to keep track of where I am.

I suspect it's going to take a while to smooth out all the conflicts between him and Leeloo, and to remind Jesse about the housebreaking rules he's forgotten. But he's let me know he's willing to try, so I guess that's what we'll do!


Megan said...

Very cute blog! Our dogs would be so unhappy if we decided to make them outdoor doggies! They are super spoiled lol! <3

SassyBelle said...

Jesse is beautiful!

Java Jess Publishing said...

Aw, what a sweet looking dog! Border collie? Aussie shepherd?

Nancy Chase said...

Thanks! He's a good boy.

He came from a shelter, so we don't know exactly what he is. We're pretty sure he's a Border Collie cross, but he's much bigger than a typical Border Collie.

Anonymous said...

Jesse seems like a bright dog, and certainly capable of changing his mind. It's good that you are willing to accommodate his experimentations. He looks like such a good natured pal. I hope he and Leeloo can work out the terms of a truce. Can you bribe him so that he associates Leeloo with treats?

Skye Ranger said...

I love "paying attention to dogs", attending to their behavior; it is one of the ways they "talk". It is even more fun to "talk" back. They appreciate it. The people who listen, many times get to be an ambassador, translating for other humans.

Nancy Chase said...

Definitely. I'm always translating what the dogs and cats are saying, for my husband!