Tuesday, August 28, 2012
My family and I recently moved from Concord to Walnut Creek. It wasn't far, but it was a drastic change as we moved from a townhouse to a large house and combined households with my father and his senior dog. This was a new home for both our families as my father left his house as well. The way each of our dogs handled the move was polar opposites of each other! I believe that has to do with how we each prepped our dog and what we each did the day of the move etc. My dad has a very old Great Dane Lab cross. Honestly, it is a wonder this dog is alive and doing well at that! He is 13 years old and is probably close to a lean 120 lbs. This dog's head reaches my chest when he is standing relaxed. Harley absolutely adores Lucy and relies on her for comfort quite a bit unfortunately. He missed her from living with her for a year, as I took her back a few months before our big move. Harley had been living in the same home with my dad since he adopted him from the pound at 9 months old. Lucy is 9.5 years old right now and has always been a dog to roll with the punches. She has moved quite a bit in her life and is a very emotionally solid dog. The day of the move, I made the choice to take Lucy and my kids to my mother's house. We hung out in her backyard, had lunch, played with her puppies and spent the whole day there. Meanwhile my husband and father, along with the movers, were emptying out both our residences. Arriving at my dad's house, my husband tells me Harley was loose in the house as the movers loaded boxes, furniture etc. Harley is quite attached to my dad's leather couch that he uses as his giant dog bed. As soon as that couch left the house, Harley began shaking and drooling and pacing. Even with the large truck, multiple loads had to be made. Harley was left in the partially empty house with a dog bed, water and a new bone. His howls and moans could be heard down the street as they drove away to unload the truck at the new place. For the next few days as we unpacked boxes, moved furniture around and turned the house into a home, Lucy stayed on "vacation" at my mom's house. Harley was placed in our new large and amazing backyard where he scratched the screen, barked and carried on miserably. My dad kept begging me to bring Lucy back from my mom's in the hopes Harley would calm down. I waited till I felt the house was in good enough order to bring her over. I didn't want her to be stressed and as sad as it was to see Harley upset, it isn't fair to Lucy to be "used" as a comfort object at her expense. When she came over, Harley was beyond thrilled. Most of his stress dissipated when he was allowed to lounge on his couch again. For a few weeks I was training him to stay off of the couch, but my dad felt bad about it and let him on it again. Lucy showed zero stress. Furniture was in place, there were minimal boxes and all of her items were around. I believe that if a family is moving and it is possible for their dog to be somewhere else for a few days, that is the best situation to avoid moving related stress. We have been here now a little over a month and most of the "bumps" from combining households center around the dogs. As I am home most of the time, outside of training, with my two little ones, the brunt of the dog issues fall upon me. Harley's dependence on Lucy drives me a little nuts. She doesn't share the sentiment. He cannot be alone outside OR inside. While that doesn't bug me so much, his bullying tendencies do. I cannot even toss a toy for Lucy to get without him storming in and whopping her with his giant foot to take it away. If he is playing fetch, all she wants to do is herd him, which earns her a correction from Harley that is sometimes overdone on his part and needs human assistance to end it. She no longer wants to play with toys, eat a bone or tug at all since she is now associating that he will either come and take it away, or I will begin to verbally redirect him and that causes her stress. Forget about locking him inside or outside to play with her separately. That just causes him to scratch doors and bark and become destructive. With her lack of play outlets, I wouldn't say she is depressed. She is a senior dog as well, but she is now obsessing over a flower bed that probably has lizards or maybe a rodent in it. When Lucy (or any herding dog) doesn't have outlets, they tend to make their own, however strange they may be. My only solution to this issue so far has been to take her on walks and take her to training classes with me. With the kids, it is difficult to take Lucy to dog parks or hiking trails or places to play fetch. With the weather being hot, it hasn't been possible to even walk to a park with Lucy or the kids. The other problem we have had is sleeping arrangements for Lucy. Our new bedroom has hardwood flooring. Out of respect for the owners, we don't want her scratching up the floor. Prior to moving we made a choice (as did my dad) to not have dog's sleeping in our bedroom anymore due to my allergies and asthma. We had successfully moved Lex out of our room, and Lucy slept in the living room at my dad's. However, we let her sleep in our room the few months she was back at our apartment because I felt bad about it. At first, I tried getting her to stay downstairs with Harley. She was not a fan and kept coming up the stairs. Then my dad thought he would be extra nice and let her sleep in his room. She however, hates it when he coughs and he coughs a lot, so she was miserable in there and kept hiding in his adjoining bathroom. After that, we bunked her with my brother, who she loves, but she wasn't happy with that either. Tried the kid's rooms, even set up a crate downstairs in a spare room and did that for a while, but other household members kept sabotaging that. Currently, she sleeps in the carpeted hall outside our bedroom door and is happy with that. The downside is I am afraid her shifting and dog noises are waking up my 6 month old in the bedroom across from ours! I don't get much sleep as it is, with him waking up every few hours and if she is waking him as well, that just isn't going to work! I am uncertain if she is waking him, so last night I shut her in our large bathroom that is carpeted and tiled. She felt neutral about this. Moving is hard on everyone, dogs and people! I hope that we work the kinks out of things. All and all I am very happy with our move and hopefully we won't have to do it again for a while!