New House – How Are the Dogs Handling the Move?

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As I described in the editorial in the January issue of WDJ, my husband and I recently bought a new house, about four miles from where we currently live. Before, we were living in the center of a little 1850s Gold Rush-era town; now we live on its outskirts, in a 1950s ranch house on two acres.

In the category of loving the new house are three of the four voting members of the family (me, my husband, 10-year-old mixed-breed Otto and two-year-old pit/Lab Woody; cats and chickens don’t vote).

My husband and I LOVE it. We both have been sleeping like the proverbial logs. I wasn’t aware of how the noises of town have impacted my sleep; I only knew how they impacted my peace during the day. My block has exploded in recent months with new resident barking dogs. When I hear a dog barking all day, I don’t blame the dog; instead, I am filled, bark by bark, with rage at the dog’s owners.  To me it doesn’t sound like “Bark, bark, bark!” It sounds like, “Neglect, cruelty, disrespect!” But enough of that rant.

Also in the category of LOVING the new place: Woody. Two acres provides all the fetching room he needs and allows him to fetch in the morning after potty, and at all sorts of in-between times all day long. He has taken to carrying his ball around the house in hopes that any person walking by a door to the outside will see him and the ball and decide that “Yes, Woody, it’s time for fetch!”

Poor Otto is the lone dissenter. He’s hating the house for two significant reasons: Slippery floors and relentless beeping. 

Otto has long had an issue about slippery floors – and the fact that it’s all in his head means that any physical steps I take to mitigate his fears may or may not actually help. Most of the new house has hardwood floors; the parts that aren’t wood are tile (the entry and eat-in kitchen). Otto has decided that there is no non-slippery surface in the house, and none of the carpet runners I’ve put down for him have changed his mind. Never mind the fact that the hardwood is not all that slippery, and that Woody can walk on the tile without slipping (and can even fetch the ball that he drops and chases to amuse himself without slipping). Otto is certain he’s going to slip, so he starts walking in an exaggerated, shaky-legged, scrambling, “The whole world is icy, I can’t help it, I’m slipping!” sort of gait, which of course makes him slip! Even on the carpet runners!

I’m not going to share a picture of Otto in distress. You’ll hate me. However, I have a few mitigation plans in place: I’ve ordered the sticky stuff to spray on his feet (Firm Grip rosin spray), I’m going to try the balloon-type dog “shoes” (Pawz), and I’m trying to counter-condition the heck out of him, by dropping treats for him all over the house.

Electronic beeps are the other problem. Otto is one of those dogs who goes out of his mind if a smoke detector emits one of those “low battery” chirps. He will start stress-panting and pacing and shaking. And if a smoke alarm goes off, he will paste himself to a door and shake and whine until someone lets him out (and then deals with the alarm and the cause of the smoke – first things first!) The new house, unfortunately, has some sort of alarm system that beeps every time any window or door is opened. And since we’re moving, we’re coming in and out a lot. And since it’s winter, we hate to leave the door wide open between trips. So, beep, beep, beep. It’s a priority to figure out how to disarm the system and get rid of the beeps. But for now, I’ve taken to leaving Otto in my car when we’re going in and out of the house a lot. He’s content to lay or sit in the car for hours, if need be, to avoid the beeps and the floors. Especially because the car has a good view of the ONE thing that both dogs agree is super cool about the new house: Squirrels.

THERE ARE SQUIRRELS IN THE TREES.

Within one week, all I have to do is say, “Guys: Squirrel!” And both dogs rush to a window – yes, even Otto, he forgets the floor thing when it comes to a squirrel alert – to look for the squirrel. And if they are outside, both go on high alert and scan the trees and lawn for the offending squirrel. Forgive me for using squirrel alerts, too, to distract Otto from the floors and the beeps.

One thing you will notice in the picture of my dogs on a squirrel alert: the crappy “fence” in the background, and the road immediately behind. Dog-proof fencing is the next big project. I have over 400 feet of roadside property to fence before I can relax and enjoy the new house completely. Until then, the dogs can’t be left outside for a MINUTE unattended, so that’s next on the agenda, right up there with stopping the beeps. I think that once Otto is free to hunt for squirrels and relax on the deck outside, as he has been accustomed to do at his leisure in our old house – the only house he’s known since we adopted him – the slippery floor thing won’t be such a big deal. At least, I hope. Wish us luck!

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