Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Communication Bark-Down

Over the last few months Coco has developed a knack for communicating with us.  It started with her telling us that she has to go potty.  This involves sitting directly in front of us and barking softly at first, and then getting gradually louder until we take her out.  We encouraged this behavior because of our difficulties with housetraining.  We were so happy that she was telling us when she needed to go out. 
Then she started to display the same behavior when she wanted to play.  She would get the desired toy out of her toy box (we sometimes would watch this beginning step with amusement…marveling at how she would comb through her toys one by one until she found the one she wanted) and then she’d place the toy at our feet.  If we were in bed, she would place the toy in the bed.  After that, she would sit and start barking until one of us, usually Bill, would throw the toy and play fetch with her. 
When she wants something that is not an immediate need, like she wants to snuggle on the couch, or she has discovered a missing toy under the bed that she can’t quite reach, she won’t bark, just whine.  She seems to know when barking is inappropriate.
This behavior makes she seem like a demanding brat, and maybe she is.  Bill blames me for spoiling her.  I blame him for playing tug-of-war and fetch with her whenever she wants, giving in to her when she barks at him.  But we don’t really know if this behavior is bad, we just know it can be annoying to us.  She is usually pretty good about not being a brat when company is over.  Maybe it just means she has learned to adapt our behavior instead of us shaping hers. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Doggy Daycare?

I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to put Coco in doggy daycare.  This has been a tough decision.  There are days when we are not home for long periods of time.  While we make it a point to come home long enough to let her out to go potty and for a short walk, some days she is by herself (with the cat, of course) for many hours.  I picture my poor Coco all alone on her bed with no one to play with and it makes me wish I could do something. 
I do have a fantastic friend, Jules, who will come over when she can and take Coco for walks.  On these days I find that I can concentrate at work better and I feel more relaxed knowing that Coco is happy and satisfied at home.  Sometimes I’ll have Jules leave her a freezer treat and I know that will keep her mentally stimulated until I can get home to keep her company.  But Jules can’t always come over, and while I am extremely grateful to her for the times that she can, I want something more permanent.  So I started to look into doggy daycare. 
Luckily, I didn’t have to look very far, our vet provides that service. The cost, to me, is minimal at just under $17 a day.  I would be happy to have her attend daycare just a couple times a week to get her out of the house on those long days when we are away.  It would put my mind at ease to know that she is getting the attention she wants.  To Bill, of course, this is a ridiculous idea. 
Bill’s opinion is that she’s a dog, and as such she is perfectly happy to loaf around the house and play with her toys.  Perhaps she will occasionally play with the cat, or get some energy out by running laps up and down the stairs.  He sees no reason for a dog to go to daycare.  And he certainly sees no reason for us to pay for it. 
To a degree, I see his point, which is why I haven’t signed her up.  We let her out when she needs to go to the potty and we are always there on time to feed her.  But I can’t help but feel guilty for not being there with her more.  After all, we wanted her; she is our responsibility. I wonder if this is how mothers feel about going to work with newborns. 
I’m not sure how I will decide what to do.  For me, it isn’t really about the money, although I don’t like to spend money I don’t have to.  It is more about respecting Bill’s opinion and finding a balance between what I think is the right thing to do and regarding his wishes.  This is sometimes a hard thing to do.