Tuesday, August 18, 2009

that's what happens when you're crazy

Meg is my dog. She's 11 years old. She's part Australian Shepherd, part Rat Terrier, part Chow. (no parts of her resemble a Chow, but that's what it says on her birth certificate, so we go with it.) Meg is crazy. Always has been. She is wicked smart, too. And for 11 years, she's kept us on our toes.

If she wants to, Meg can escape from ANY yard. We've watched her scale fences, climb furniture, dig holes, scoot under fence posts and (most impressive of all) we realized one night that she understands the concept of leverage - using her body to break off fence-posts to get out. Basically, she is an escape-artist and we can always anticipate certain "antics" from Meg.

Meg and Piper sleep in the basement. Not because I'm wicked and I hate them. It's just cooler down there. And in my old house, they had a doggie door that allowed them access to the backyard, so in the new house I decided not to change their routine (I've heard it has consequences). They have kennels downstairs with cushy beds and water bowls. It's actually kind of awesome. Meg and Piper have a pretty sweet life and a very consistent routine. Nothing has happened in the last month to upset this routine. Nothing.

Last month, Meg suddenly started barking in the middle of the night. I wasn't entirely shocked. She's older. She might have some bladder-control issues. And Meg's done that before. About 7 years ago she went through this phase where she barked in the middle of the night and I would shout "NO!" (because my old house was a shoebox and my floor had a hole in it where I could see directly in to the basement and I could hear every single thing she did down there) and Meg would stop barking. But this wasn't the usual barking like, "Hey! Guys? Hey! What's going on?" She was barking like "OH! MY! GOD! I'M! GONNA! DIE! SOMETHING! IS! WRONG! I'M! FREAKING! OUT!" Of course, Ryan ran downstairs and opened her kennel and she tore up the stairs like she was on fire. By the time Ryan got upstairs, Meg was just sitting in the living room, staring at him. He opened the door to let her outside and she casually walked over to it like, "yeah...I could pee." WTF, dog?

The next night Meg started barking again. And honestly, I didn't even hear it. I just knew Ryan was getting up out of bed every hour or so and coming back all mad. I said, "why don't you try ignoring her. You're giving her attention now and she's going to keep doing it." (I think I know about parenting even though I have zero children) But Ryan could not ignore her. He couldn't sleep. He couldn't drown her out. He said, "It's like when you hear a drippy sink all the way down the hall and you can't sleep until it stops dripping." (which, honestly - made sense)

So the next day, we took her to the vet. I was done with this grumpy husband and this crazy dog. I made the appointment, picked up the dog after work and Ryan met us there.

This is Meg, riding in the back of my car. Normally, she looks out the window and rubs her nose all over the glass and wags her tail, but I looked back there and she was like this. I started talking to her, telling her she was being a good girl and she was going to the vet. Nothing.

Saddest. Dog. Ever.

This was at the vet's office. (P.S. Meg does not like the vet. Probably from all of those rectal exams.)

Meg was there for about an hour. This picture was taken about 2 minutes before we asked her if she was "ready to go?". I wish I'd taken a picture of that moment! She ran toward the door so hard that she slid and smacked right in to it.

So...in the vet's opinion...something scared Meg about being in the basement at night. Not during the day, just at night. Because Meg voluntarily walks downstairs to take naps in her kennel all the time. There was something about the middle of the night. (her example was a cat that had a litter box right next to the dryer. Somebody started the dryer with a pair of tennis shoes in it just as the cat climbed in to the litter box. The cat was then terrified of the litter box.) And it was clear that Meg had not suffered a stroke or damaged her brain in any way. She was not showing any symptoms of "old age", she was just scared of the dark.

So now Meg sleeps with a night light and a "white noise" machine. It seems to be working. She sleeps through the night and so do we. (but if you ask me, I still think Meg just figured out another way to escape.)

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