When we brought Charley home, I thought I was prepared for the sleepless nights and the crate-crying, but I really wasn’t. We didn’t crate train Rocky (Big! Huge! Mistake!), and even if we had, he was older when we got him. My other dogs were all full grown when I got them, except for my very first, but 1) I was 8, so no late night responsibility fell on me, and 2) He was a rejected puppy, so he was weak and tiny and depended on us to be bottle fed, and to make him poop (totally gross), so he didn’t have much energy for the crying.
Needless to say, the first night in the crate was not a fun time for anyone – there was whining and crying and pathetic whimpering. And then he’d finally settle down, only to wake up to go out. I’d take him out to go, bring him back and put him back in the crate and we’d start all over. To say I was exhausted was an understatement.
And it got worse – as he got a little bigger and stronger, so did his crying – it became less “pathetic whimpering” and more “screaming like someone is stabbing me with eleven electrically-charged butcher knives dipped in sulfuric acid.” I thought it would never end and I would lose my mind and go running into traffic in the middle of the night to escape it.
Finally one night as I put him in the crate, I was near tears, just anticipating what was coming. I had reached that point of exhaustion where you feel totally out of control of your emotions – anyone who has had a newborn knows the feeling. And no – I am not comparing a newborn to a puppy. I know that babies are much harder than puppies. But – like a baby – he was waking up every 1 -2 hours, crying half the night, and making me feel like a huge failure. And to be honest, at that point, I wish he was also like a baby in that he could just go in a diaper that I could change in the comfort of my own room, instead of taking him outside in the freezing cold where under the dark of night, I could be murdered or eaten by a bear (What? I live near the woods – everyone knows bears and psycho killers live in the woods!)
Anyway – that night, I put him in the crate and steeled myself for the onslaught of murder-screaming. And as usual, he got right to it. I was trying very hard to ignore it – or at least not to cry, when a woman’s voice – very loudly and clearly, and coming from inside the room – said, “HEY!” And he stopped. He just stopped. My first thought was “YAY!!!!” But my second thought was, “WTF?” And I found myself lying there thinking that I should be scared, and yet I wasn’t. I don’t know if I somehow sensed that whatever said it was benign, or if I was just so happy that the puppy had shut up, that I didn’t care if Freddy Krueger, The Scarehouse Bunny, and Satan himself had come in and shut him up. All I know is that he didn’t make another peep all night.
Or the next night. Or any night since. He goes in his crate, gives a half-hearted whimper and goes to sleep.
I haven’t heard the voice since, but one day when I was working from home, I had to put him in the crate after spending half the day pulling contraband out of his mouth, and he was barking his fool head off (clearly he went for the nighttime sleeping, but daylight hours were off the table). I decided to go check on him, and as I was walking into the room, the radio came on in there. And as soon as he heard the music, he shut up. Again. Since then, crate training has been pretty good – minus the occasional accident, the pushing his blanket out of the cage, and the waking to go out. But I can deal with all that. I’m just glad somebody – whomever it was – dealt with the other.