Friday, February 7, 2014

Wisconsin: It's Like This

A whole yard to romp and play in. A yard, sticks, and snow are the best!
See the burrs on his sweater? He gets into everything outdoors. He loves the tall burr patch. He runs into it and watches us from the inside. He becomes a wild animal hiding in the bush of the Wisconsin woods watching his predators and prey from the inside. He only comes out when the stick flies across the yard!
 There's no stopping him! Look at that determined and fierce face! He is on a mission, even if his sweater is loaded with prickly burrs!
Victory belongs to Barry! He will take the stick with him into the prickly burr patch!
Here he comes! What is it about dogs and sticks?
 He loves the freedom of not wearing a harness and leash and I don't blame him.
Ahh, Wisconsin...

We all traveled to Wisconsin to see the family this past weekend. My husband's family lives in Wisconsin. The yard seen above is my mother-in-law's yard. It's a large yard that backs up to a small stream (currently frozen and covered in snow) and a small wooded area. Barry will go nuts when it warms up. Not that he didn't go nuts with the snow but I have a feeling he will never want to go inside when it gets warmer. Which is good because we like to do outdoorsy things as much as possible when the weather is nice.

Barry was pretty good on the ride from Chicago to Wisconsin. It's about an hour and a half to my husband's mother's home. We'll probably have to get some sort of seat for Barry that might be more comfortable for him. I'll have to look into it and let you know what I find but after a quick search for dog booster seats for traveling they don't really offer them for large dogs. I may have to get creative. Or look harder. You might think it's unnecessary to get a dog Barry's size a booster seat but my back seat sits low and Barry had to stand the whole time to look out the window which means stopping, accelerating, and turning would throw him off balance a bit (imagine yourself standing in the backseat while someone was driving). I want him to enjoy the ride and be safe as we often go to visit the Wisconsin family and in the summer we take road trips. If he can lay on said booster seat then he can safely be in one spot and also be able to enjoy looking out the window. He got antsy towards the end of the trip. We were sitting and waiting for sandwiches to be put together and he started whining a bit. It's something we'll have to work on but I think a good start would be a nice seat for most of his ride to be comfortable.

Husband's mom calls Barry her grand-dog so we'll refer to her as Grandma in this blog. She loves Barry and I can tell he loves her. I'm glad she loves him because he's done a bit of damage to her back door area. We all had to leave for a few hours and knowing we needed to leave I prepared Barry's KONG with treats. Even though he loves that KONG he didn't touch it while we were gone. Instead he was busy doing this...
He tried to dig his way out. Luckily the damage looks worse than it really was. He did tear up the draft guard but that was easily replaced and inexpensive. Grandma has carpet squares in this part of her home so the bare spots you see in the floor were the squares that were pulled up. We were able to place the squares back into their spots. He still just doesn't like being left alone! He's gotten used to our weekday routine at home but Grandma's house is still new to him. I could tell he was so stressed out when I got back. I cleaned up the mess and vacuumed up the salt since I was cleaning up his mess anyway and then we both sat down on the couch where Barry fell asleep and immediately started dreaming.

Dreaming away his stress.
This trip was the second time Barry's been to Wisconsin. The first time was slightly more dramatic. That was Christmastime and we stayed at Grandma's for the whole week! It was a really nice stay and I know Barry loved every minute of it. Except the time we left to go to CVS.

Picture of Barry during Christmastime. This sweater has since been claimed by the burr bush at Grandma's house.

Knowing that Barry was (is) as escape artist we had some clever ideas to make sure Barry wouldn't escape Grandma's house. She has a lever type door handle, similar to ours, which Barry can open and then close behind himself as he leaves and probably lock it on his way out too. < Just kidding of course. Mostly.

The idea was to use an eye hook latch. Looking back on it I can't believe this is what we settled on. I mean, this dog broke through metal posts in a reinforced crate so that he could then let himself out of our unit to find us. What made us think that an eye hook latch would hold him? Oh yeah. He was totally getting out.

See that doohickey there? That's an eye hook latch for those that don't know.
Husband put the eye hook latch on the outside of the door so that Barry couldn't reach up and just unhook it that way. So we thought attaching it to the outside was clever because when we'd leave we could just hook the latch and he wouldn't have anyway of getting out. Then when we'd come back we'd unhook it and let ourselves in - ta da!

Our trip to CVS and to see Grandma's mom (Husband's grandma) took a total of 45 minutes. I had this knot in my stomach. I knew it before we pulled up the driveway that he was gone. I found out that my husband had the same feeling as I did. We pulled up and the door was wide open. I flew from the car and started screaming Barry's name. I howled at the top of my lungs and ran into the street. I ran down the street and back. There was a moment where I thought I'd fall to my knees in the middle of the street and cry - I'm glad I didn't do that. That's a bit dramatic but I was feeling really dramatic in that moment. I decided I would see if we could track which way he went by checking the snow. There were no distinguishable tracks to my untrained eye. I ran into the back yard and yelled Barry's name some more. The neighbor said he'd seen Barry running down the street and could tell he was well taken care of (probably because of the red sweater). I shouted more and then I heard jingling tags. I could see Barry running toward the house in the street. I saw his red sweater and heard his jingling tags. That was the best feeling! I ran into the driveway and shouted his name again and he ran into my arms! I get emotional just thinking of it. The whole thing lasted about 5 minutes but it felt like so much longer. I truly thought for those five minutes that he was gone and I'd never see him again. Even though he is microchipped and has tags. You just never know. Barry escaping Grandma's house and running off is a lot scarier because that means he's out in the big wide world by himself. If he escapes our condo he's walking the hallways on the 5th floor of our building.
Cheeky boy. Walking the hallways of the 5th floor like he owns
the place.
Then came time to meet his cousin, Paxton. Paxton is a 90 lb Golden Doodle. Pax has a lot of energy and can be very vocal. Barry can match that energy - no problem - but he's not a very vocal dog, except around Paxton. Husband's brother brought Paxton over to Grandma's. The two began play fighting immediately. Lots of barking and slobber, and nipping and rolling and mounting. Ugh. Super annoying and stressful. We brought them inside and the play fighting ensued. They continually just barked and mounted and pawed at one another. Grandma got annoyed and told us to control our dogs. I felt bad. I didn't know how Barry would act around Paxton. They were both feeding off one another's energy. Barry, at that time, was just a few weeks new to us (I guess he is still new to us). We shouted for Barry to stop. We lured him to us and made him calm down a bit. Paxton was also made to calm down a bit. It didn't last long for either dog. Paxton has a lot of energy and didn't take his eyes off Barry. Barry was ready to play.

We tried that a couple more times during our first visit at Grandma's but each time was just as annoying and just as stressful. We changed locations to see if that made a difference but it didn't. We will try again some other time but we'll wait until Barry is better behaved and listens to commands immediately. We need him to know when to stop and when it's okay to play/rough house.
Begging for Grandma's pepperoni pizza. We don't allow him to do this in our home
but Barry gets away with a little more at Grandma's house.
By the way, for Grandma's door Husband installed a padlock latch to the outside of the door. At first we thought of going with a deadbolt but that requires tools that, as I mentioned before, we don't have. So when we have to keep Barry at her house and leave him we put the padlock in the latch and it holds him in. It's worked well the few times we've needed to use it.


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