Friday, April 30, 2010


Hathaway is having a sleepover. For the next eight days, we are dog-sitting my favorite dog-nephew Sebastian.

For the last five years or so, we have hosted Sebastian for the first week in May while our neighbors are out of town. The first few years, Sebastian was one of three, fitting right in with my previous dogs, Jake and Lily (pictured). But for the last couple of years, Sebastian has been an "only child" during his visit. And of course for the last eight months, Hathaway has been king of the castle, getting all the attention in his new home.

Sebastian, some kind of hound dog mix, is about 12 now, and likes to take a walk and then nap the afternoon away. Hath, being almost 3 and very, very social, approaches every dog as his BFF and playmate. He is learning not to pounce on Sebastian, who outweighs him by at least 20 pounds. Sebastian just looks at him the way an 8th-grader looks at a 5th-grader. I know he'd roll his eyes if he could.

So far, so good. They are sharing a water dish and napping on either side of me, but each time one moves, the other sits up and watches: What are you doing, friend? Where are you going, friend? Is it time to play?

Tails are up and wagging. I'm expecting this to be an interesting experiment.

Friday, April 16, 2010

No place like home

I left a full trash bag out yesterday before I went to work for six hours. That thought clicked in my head about 5 seconds before the key clicked in the lock, so I walked in ready for some serious cleanup.

What I got was a happy boy, wagging his tail and offering a celebration ball. You're home! Love me! And he was standing in the middle of a clean floor. I'm home! I love you! And I'm glad I don't need the Swiffer!

Watching the dissipation of separation anxiety is interesting. When we first brought Hathaway home at the end of August, we tried crating him, but that just exacerbated his anxiety. He was a drooling, barking wreck and I worried that the stress would kill him or he would hurt himself trying to break out of the crate.

So we left him out, leaving for short periods of time. You could tell from the trail of drool that he'd ramble from room to room looking for me. According to the neighbors (oh kind and patient neighbors), he would bark. Continuously.

Once I knew he wasn't going to destroy the furniture or go through a window, I'd leave for a little longer. Before I'd go, I would tell him to go lay down, I'd be back soon. He would for awhile, then he'd look for things to chew, pulling papers off counters, place mats off the table, rummaging in baskets or boxes. Or, if we forgot to move it, get into the trash.

But you could also see his trust start to build. He was wandering farther away at the dog park. Letting me out of his sight both there and at home. And judging from what I was greeted with when I came through the door after work, it seemed as though the naps were getting longer as the rambling and rummaging subsided.

When I'm going to be gone for an extended period, I leave a banana on the counter for him to "find." He peels it, eats it, naps.

Over the last couple of weeks, especially, we have come home to nothing ... or nothing but a smiling, wagging pit bull next to an empty banana peel.

There has been less destruction, less chewing of random crunchy objects, and yes, less rummaging of the trash, which means (in my human brain) that Hathaway (in his doggy brain) finally feels like he's home.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Down Dog!

Q: How do you get down from an elephant?

A: You don't. You get down from a goose.

Q: How do you get down from a pit bull?

A: Let him sleep on your comforter.

Hathaway likes to make himself a little nest before curling up to sleep. You've probably seen dogs do it: They turn in three circles one way, another couple of circles the other way and paw at their sleeping area in what appears to be an attempt to fluff it up a bit.

So this is what my pit bull does. Circles. Paws. Fluffs. I try to leave a pillow on the bed for him to curl up with, or some recently worn sweats. (Author's note: Hey -- separation anxiety, remember? Anything I can do to encourage him to lay down and wait for me rather than randomly roaming the house looking for crunchy things to chew, I do.)

What he has been doing, however, is making himself a little down nest on my comforter. Now, it is a good thing that he is settling down. However, the first part of the problem is, he doesn't know his own strength, and lately, as he has pawed and fluffed his sleeping area, he has also ripped the comforter.

The second part of the problem is, I don't always notice the first problem until I pull up the comforter, sending a little cloud of feathers gently into the air. They cascade lightly back down to earth, in this case the floor of my bedroom, and taunt me into trying to suck up every last one with the vacuum. Hathaway doesn't seem to mind the feathers, although they tickle our noses, making both of us sneeze.

I sewed up the first couple of rips and moved the comforter to a spot he doesn't really like, but he started nesting as I was getting into bed the other night, and by the time I said stop, it was already to late. The comforter now has more stitches in it than Frankenstein's neck. Anyone know where I can get a cheap duvet cover?