When I convinced my husband to let me get a blue heeler puppy for my birthday a year ago he made me promise I would remember that my dog was a dog and it would be expected to live by dog rules – or in other words sleep on ground, poop outside and eat dog food. We both agreed we didn’t want to be those twenty-somethings who aren’t quite ready for kids so they get a dog to fill the gap and then end up referring to each other as mom and dad when speaking to their dog, celebrating their dog’s birthday with a special doggy cake and flooding their Facebook page with updates on their dogs. Having worked at Amazon, a dog friendly company that lets you take your dog to work, I have seen dogs who have crossed the divide from four legged friend to life insurance beneficiary and I promised I wouldn’t become one of them.
Almost exactly a year later, our puppy named Pearl, is most definitely a part of our family and while we try to keep the line between man and beast in tact sometimes it gets a little blurry. For example, Pearl sleeps on the bed with us. We tried to train her to sleep on the floor and she never objected, but in the end it was us who couldn’t be trained to resist her dinosaur yawns (as Belinda calls them). And up until a week ago Pearl was with me virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Working for my dad at the Millwork Outlet allowed me to bring Pearl to work with me. But recently, I started a new job working at Redfin in downtown Seattle and while Redfin is a seriously awesome company to work for I seriously doubt they would put up with Pearl’s pile of chewed up sticks littering their office floor like the Millwork Outlet did .
So, this week was Pearl’s first week staying at home by herself. Like any good mom – errr I mean dog owner – would do, I Googled ways to keep a cooped up dog entertained. Of course there was a huge variety in suggestions ranging from you would be better off taking your dog to the animal shelter than keeping them locked up for eight hours to leaving them outside under the porch to behave like dogs do in their natural state. I focused on the more middle of the road suggestions and tried a few over the last week. These are my lessons learned.
- Get a KONG and fill it with peanut butter and then put it in the freezer overnight. You can even put bits of treats in the peanut butter. Pearl is wicked smart and very determined so the peanut butter never lasts very long when fresh from the can, but when frozen it keeps Pearl busy a whole lot longer.
- Bust out that obnoxious toy you never let your dog play with. We have a Squeaky Beer Bottle that we used to help train Pearl to get a beer out of the fridge (follow the link to see our training process). Long story short, I saw a video on youtube of a dog performing this trick and showed Ross and he offered a $100 reward if I could train her to be his bar maid. It’s a pretty cool trick and a great crowd pleaser at parties! Anywho…this squeaky beer bottle is obnoxiously loud so we don’t let her play with it, but she LOVES it. So, we give her the beer bottle right before we leave for the day. Genius!
- Put a blanket on anything you don’t want hair on. Because Pearl sleeps with us she thinks the bed is hers to go on whenever she wants. I know I could train her to wait until invited on the bed, but that’s a whole lot of work and requires consistency and since it isn’t a huge deal for me I decided to chose another battle. So when Ross leaves in the morning we have a cover blanket that goes on top of the bed so she doesn’t get our bed too hairy. Double Bonus: it forces Ross to make the bed in the morning! Winning!
So far so good! The only day she chewed something apart (inflations for our milking machine worth about $90) was because Ross didn’t leave her a toy to play with. Rookie mistake!