To encourage bonding, I have started feeding you dinner by hand. You seem to enjoy our routine. I scoop the brown crunchy nuggets with the black bits into the bowl as you watch attentively. I place the bowl on the kitchen table before giving you the hand command, with a verbal reinforcement, to sit. You oblige dutifully, eyes ever on the dog dish. You wait patiently as I grab the first handful from the bowl. Then you stand, focused on my fist. Your soft mouth scarfs the food before I can fully extend my fingers, leaving a slick slime across my palm. Tail and butt wagging, you eagerly wait. The dry food sticks to my hand as I grab more. This time I pause my food fisted hand in front of my nose. I am rewarded by brief eye contact with your beautiful brown eyes, lined in black. Well worth the 10 minutes it takes for me to hand feed. I hope you are beginning to trust me.
You haven’t run away for almost a week. You enjoy our feeding times and we are making small strides with our training. I’m thinking this adoption is going well. You follow the Canine Good Citizen Commands about 60% of the time. You seem eager for the practice. Is it the one on one with me? The hotdogs? The praise? Pretty sure its the hotdogs. I buy you nitrate free beef hotdogs. I have to hide in the bathroom to break them into tiny leathery pieces, because you get so excited when you smell them. You sit as soon as I come out of the bathroom. If I ignore, by not giving you some hotdog, you slide your front legs out, ever so slowly, until they are perpendicular to your chest. The down position. Watching this graceful display of canine antics without a verbal command or hand signal makes me smile. And you do it every single time I come out of the bathroom now. My goofy, gentle boy. You are a comedian.
Despite all this progress, we still have some issues Dwight. The crate being the biggest one. You were fine sleeping in there the first week. You were even fine going in there some during the day, even napping there, with open door, on occasion. So what happened? You started howling at night. A sorrowful noise. Not quite a howl or a whine, but a combo. We call it whoughling. Not a pleasant sound to fall asleep to. Hoarse, high-pitched, sometimes frantic and piercing. You were fed, exercised, toileted. You went into the crate without a bother. It was after we got into bed that your night noises would begin.
The vet advised that it would stop if we ignored you for a few nights. Katie suggested moving the crate from the office to the den, or even upstairs. After asking for help, we chose to ignore both sets of advice, sure that you were just adapting and would settle soon. John and I took turns getting up and down with you in the night. Hand feeding, sleep disruptions. Reminiscent of the baby days for sure. You were ruling the house Dwight.
One evening we crated you when we went out to dinner. There are 2 parallel latches on the crate. One at the top of the door and one at the bottom. In his haste to exit the room before you started whoughling, John failed to lock the bottom latch. Imagine our surprise when we found you asleep by the coffee table in the den when we returned from dinner. We were only gone 2 hours. In that time you managed to bend the bars at the bottom of the crate door and squeeze through a tiny opening. What contortions did it take for you to push yourself out of that space? How long did it take you? Dwight you truly are the great Houndini. The hound escape artist. I respect your need for freedom. The crate is going to the garage, bent bars and all, where it will gather dust.