Well, after not following my own advice in Stress for the Holidays, and talking to a few friends, it seems this is the outcome. Stevie raided the garbage bin for the first time ever (he’s seven so that’s pretty impressive). Satsu got locked out of her house in between the screen door and regular door in the cold. And after months of abstinence, Lhotse’ wrangled her way up to my Pad Thai from the dining room table and the next day had a little chew on one of the forbidden stuffed animals in the house, TC and Wags.
So I did a little inventory of my triple canine house and came to this conclusion. Kaiya is full of energy for playing, she’s bringing us toys and REALLY wants to play. Star is itching for more more more fun in the snow, her very favorite thing, and Lhotse’ is getting reactive again to noises and interruptions in the house. Well I may have written a nice blog about stress for the holidays, but I clearly didn’t practice what I preach.
The reasons for the fallout:
- The Moms have been out ALOT lately. Since before Christmas, they have not been home one full day and tomorrow’s New Years Eve.
- Walking time has been shortened to afford time for all this going out. Snow and street salt is making it very hard.
- The food was late getting made so there is a shortage of frozen KONGS this week. (Whoa, not a good week to run out of KONGS).
- We left yesterday in the daytime and forgot to leave the lights on when it got dark.
OK I’m not sure if that really matters, but it was a change in their lifestyle, so it may have.
- Kaiya’s best friends are at the pet sitters far away, so no play dates for two weeks.
Many of the things I talked about trying to avoid in my blog, I went ahead and did anyway. It shows how hard it can be to make sure everything is done with ALL of the family’s needs involved. So when Lhotse’ jumped onto my chair the other day and grabbed a chicken bone, it was a huge wake up call.
I started watching them very carefully for signs of stress.
Mostly they were OK. They have a good foundation of exercise, management, training and house rules. They did seem however, to be adding a few extra barks when the doorbell rings, and running a little faster to beat the others out the door. Kaiya’s very distracted and having trouble with focus, which isn’t her strong suit anyway and now it’s getting worse. There was nothing jumping out at us,(except for Lhotse’ stealing food), but the signs were there. With us FINALLY paying attention, we could stop the escalation of stress and deter further trouble.
What do we do about it:
The cure was put into motion yesterday and will continue throughout the rest of the holidays and College football excitement that is about to flood the house. The cure need not necessarily be anything different than what is normal in your house. They do thrive with normalcy
1. Lhotse’ went for a long walk in the woods and got to sniff out all kinds of critters and other such wildlife. Three deer joined us and we all walked through the woods, Lhotse’ not making a sound which was very surprising to me. The snow was deep and she was on a long line, which allowed her to move back and forth on an even longer walk than me. When we got home, she immediately found her spot in the sun and fell into a deep sleep. Yes, Lhotse’ did show the most signs of stress and yes, she did go out first for the special walk.
2. We made a very conscious decision to go straight home from work yesterday to avoid them being alone longer than normal.
3. I fashioned the rest of the week to be home with them, until New Years Eve. Today’s agenda, running bases on a long line for Kaiya, and Star and I will take a special off leash walk by the golf course. It does help that my health is improving now and these special walks can take place. If I couldn’t do it, I would make sure at this point that it happened somehow.
4. Today, I am staying home all day and we will have interactive games day. They got five interactive dog toys, see Puzzles For Your Pooch, as early Christmas presents and they love them. I will make KONGS and they will watch with baited breath and then maybe they will get them for dinner. In between, we will take more woods walks and maybe an afternoon DVD with cuddle time.
5. Training sessions for one while the other two enjoy their games, then switch.
Tomorrow is New Years Eve. To add to the complexity, with 11 inches of snow on the ground, we are expecting thunder storms. We have that on our radar and have arranged for someone to be here if we are not. Lhotse’s fear of storms and thunder is not be a stressor we want to add to this mix right now.
It’s easy to get excited during the holidays and forget things you know. Things you know so well that you write about it. This little lesson didn’t cost anyone any tragedy, BUT, Lhotse’ could have eaten something dangerous, TC could have been annihilated, and Satsu could have run away if that other door was open. In a few days time, we could have had little skirmishes at doorways that could escalate into battles. Kaiya could lose her focus for real and Lhotse’ could be barking at the geese flying over our house every morning.
All I can speak for is myself. I will try to benefit from lessons learned and end the madness (it’s not really madness) right now before the weekend’s excitement causes more events that don’t usually happen to happen.
So, this is it for the teaching today. We have games to play, woods to circumvent and KONGS to freeze. For Kaiya there’s 11 inches of snow covering home plate, today we dig.