We've made it through the first night relatively unscathed. Everyone was very excited when Isis arrived last night and I spent twenty minutes or so running them all in the backyard in the hopes of "getting some of their beans out." Our pack had already settled in for the night even before she got here, but they all perked up the instant our friends' car pulled in the driveway. After our little romp in the rain, we came back in and I tried to put everyone to bed.
As I feared, bed time was a bit of an argument. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but I still had to do some creative thinking.
We started with Isis in the room with us, but she would not lie down. I think she was worked up because she had just been left by her parents for the first time and because all of our dogs were in the room and she sees them as her playmates. Remembering my Leader Dog days, I decided to make her a tie down. I put Glacier's flat collar on her and attached her nylon leash to my dresser. It kept her in one area, but she kept getting up and down and whining because she wanted on the bed. I also had to put Balloo in his crate because he kept hopping off the bed to go visit his "girlfriend." (He likes the big girls). :)
Finally, after a half an hour of soft whining noises that sort of sounded like squeaky brakes, I decided to try the crate. Our crate was bought for Kyo and since Kyo is much bigger than Isis is I knew she would fit comfortably.
I left her leash on her and lead her over to the crate. She stopped about two feet away from the open door, so I stopped too and waited for her to make a move. At one point, she turned her head towards me-I could feel the tension let up on the leash a bit-and I praised her. She took a few steps towards me and I praised. The whole time I did not give her more leash to move away, but didn't yank or pull her towards me. Finally, she was standing beside me with the open crate door just inches from her nose. I waited and talked happily to her. I might have called her a "daft cow," but it was in a happy voice so she didn't know. :)
We stood there for a long while, neither of us moving. I was tired and getting cranky and impatient, but I reminded myself that we wanted the crate to be a happy place and that my patience now would pay off for the rest of the weekend. Trying to think of a way to convince her to move closer, I sat down. I thought that if I was in a less intimidating position she would feel more inclined to trust me and move into the crate. It sort of worked. She took a few more steps closer to me and the crate. I patted the entrance and talked to her, still calling her a "daft cow" in a happy voice. I jut sat there, talking and patting and when she started moving some more I stuck a treat in the front of the crate. She stepped in and ate the treat. She was about to come out, but I gave her another treat and closed the door. I just turned around and walked away as if this was normal behavior. I didn't want her thinking it was a big deal or that she should be worried. She didn't protest. She just settled in and went to sleep. It was the easiest crate introduction I have ever done. I wouldn't say her crate "trained" since she has only been in there once, but it was a good start. I was surprised and couldn't believe it.
Normally crate introductions takes days or weeks. Normally dogs complain when you put them in at first. Normally it's way harder. She took to it as if she had been doing it all of her life. So, needless to say, we all got a good night's sleep; humans and fuzzies alike. I slept eaiser knowing she was safe and wasn't getting into anything-she has a history of ingesting entire socks.
I did learn a few things from last night though. First and foremost, if I am babysitting ever again, I will not receive dogs after seven PM. There wasn't enough time to let the dogs get settled and if she had been harder to crate introduce I would have been up all night.
I also learned, not for the first time in my life, that patience really is a virtue and will get you far in life. I'm not sure Isis's Mom and Dad will be happy about her being crated, but I would rather her be safe and they mad at me for crating her, than her going to the vet's office because she ate something while we were sleeping.
Sleeping arrangements and life lessons aside, there are a few things Isis's Mom will have to learn about when she returns. Isis is a counter surfer. She stole pieces of peach off the counter this morning. She also needs to lose weight. She is not just chubby, or fluffy, or round, or big boned. She is over weight. She is too young to be over weight and carrying that extra weight on a body that is already huge, is not good for her joints and organs. I am a bit fanatical wen it comes to dogs' weight for many reasons, but I know it stems from my days in guide dog training. A healthy, lean dog works and lives longer with less health issues. Mastiffs are prone to the usual big dog joint diseases and being fat increases the chances of developing one of these conditions, such as hip and elbow dysplasia or arthritis at a young age.
I've told them before that I thought Isis needed to shed a few pounds, but it seems every time I see her, she has gained more weight. I guess technically it's not my place to say anything, but on the other hand, who else will stand up for the dog's well being? She can't put herself on a diet. She's a dog-she'll eat anything put in front of her.
Anyway, enough of me and my ranting. All and all it's been a pretty good visit and let's keep our paws crossed that it stays that way until Sunday. :)
PS: I don't know the Bull Mastiff breed very well-are they all very gassy?