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We celebrated our one-year anniversary with our dog, Bailey, this week. We adopted him from a wonderful foster group last October, when he was five months old.  He had been born on the streets and was rescued, alone, with demodectic mange and no hair on his head and neck, three months earlier. We were told that he was “crate-trained”, and he ended up housetrained at our house in a matter of days. He had a wonderful personality and we quickly fell in love with him.

We quickly determined, though, that he’d never been ALONE since his rescue. He was fostered with a menagerie of dogs, cats, and chickens that provided excellent company. He slept in crate there and at our house.  He loved the crate….until everybody in OUR little family left the house. He destroyed his first crate at our house the first time we left for a few hours. He scaled a 4-foot gate in 30 seconds. Locked in the laundry room, he tore up the linoleum, pulled the doorknob out, and chewed down the door frame. SO, we tabled the idea of containment.

Thankfully, he LOVES the local boarding kennel (lots of doggie friends to talk to), so we were able to make it to the beach this summer and took a handful of day trips as well. Otherwise, one of us was ALWAYS home. Why didn’t we try him outside of the crate? We did… and came home less than an hour later to find a whole basket of stuffed animals with gaping eye sockets, a la Jeepers Creepers. Tears were dried (mine, not the kids), and all of the eyes safely passed through the dog – though their reappearance was a bit unsettling in our pre-dawn trips to the backyard.

Over the summer, hours (and hours) of training produced a dog finally willing to spend up to 6 hours in his new extra-strong, heavy-duty, “escape-proof” (can you see where I’m going with this?) crate. Around the same time, I started my job at the library. Two weeks into my new job, “Houdini” staged a bold breakout which could have easily ended tragically. Thankfully, it didn’t, and both he and the house survived the afternoon. Obviously, something had to change. We held our breath, crossed our fingers, and left him out, on his own, in the house the next day. When I got home from work, he was curled up in our front window like a cat – a fifty-pound husky-mix cat.

It’s been two weeks, now, and, while I will be knocking on wood as soon as I post this, things continue to go well. I almost wonder if we should have done this months ago, but I feel like we might have been replacing the living room couch or carpet if we had tried it sooner. Our vet has concluded that, less than separation anxiety, he had barrier anxiety.

I can tell, now, by the rumpled appearance of our comforter, that he seems to spend a good bit of the day napping in our bed. Knowing he’s at home happy and relaxed is such a good feeling, and it’s a place I never thought we’d get to. Happy Anniversary, Bailey!

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