Thursday, October 11, 2012

Good night, sleep tight . . . or not

Do you know how much noise a disgruntled Tervuren can make when he’s confined to a crate at night?

This is not a rhetorical question.

Since  Jamie’s “spell” last week, I’ve started crating him at night. The reasons are threefold:

1) He is still occasionally a menace to himself and thinks he can do things that are not a very good idea. Leaping for the bed and crashing backward when he doesn’t make it fall into this category. This is not appreciated by anyone involved.

2) He has become oddly nocturnal - prowling and pacing. His constant motion and difficulty settling down at night tends to disturb the other residents of our house who are firm believers in getting their 8 hours. This nocturnal-ity (is that even a word?) has brought with it the arbitrary Belgian decision that all residents should rise and shine at 4 a.m.  We’re early risers at our house but we’re not dairy farmers. Even Phoenix doesn’t want to get up that early.

3) It’s in his own best interest. Morning routines since Phoenix’s arrival 5 1/2 years ago are as such: clock radio clicks on, Belgians leap up and greet the day with a series of chest bumps, ruff biting, growling and ricocheting off the walls and furniture while racing through the house. That was all fine and good when Jamie could keep all four feet under him. He gave as good as he got and it ensured that no one ever slept through the alarm.

While I refuse to call him frail or elderly, at age 13 it’s clear that those rough-and-tumble mornings need to be behind him. Since neither he nor Phoenix see it that way, I’m left in the role of enforcer. An ounce of prevention is worth a trip to the emergency vet.

Hence, Jamie is sleeping (or not) in a crate at night. He’s still loose in the house during the day so really, his life isn’t that awful. I gate him out of the bedroom so he’s not tempted to try flying/crashing bed leaps. He can safely get onto “his” couch, which is where he spends 98 percent of his day. And Phoenix is crated during the day so the Belgian demo derby is not taking place.

Jamie has not been crated at night since he was 2. He thinks this is one of the worse ideas I’ve ever had (other bad ideas included Halloween costumes and handing him off to a friend for veterans class group stays). I swear he deliberately tries to see how much noise he can make at night. He grumbled, panted, turned in circles, barked, dug at the bedding and lashed his tail against the crate sides. Who knew a dog could make so much noise just laying down!

So I moved him to a soft-side crate. I resurrected his old Doggonegood crate (the original classic style - how old is that!), the one with the worn out zipper that I would never trust at a trial site but is good enough for nightly incarceration. He made up for the lack of metal-induced noise by trying to scratch a nest in the canvas floor from 1 to 3 a.m.

Yep. Poster child for disgruntled. I tried explaining it to him. IF you would lie down and go to sleep. IF you would not try ill-advised nighttime acrobatics. IF you would quit with the endless prowling. IF you would please NOT stand at the side of the bed, staring and poking me from 4 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. IF you and Phoenix would try NOT killing each other every morning. THEN you could sleep loose again.

This met with one of Jamie’s very calm, very patient stares. It’s The Look he’s given me for 13 years. The one that says “Yeah whatever, Mom. Get over it.” I love that look. Silly old dog.

My next idea is an ex-pen. I’ll probably have to re-arrange the bedroom furniture first.


  1. When my old Canaan Dog got to be 13, I had to start crating him at night, because of night-time wandering. The first few nights he was incredibly outraged. But then, he grew to appreciate it. However, I think the case was a bit different as there was a fair amount of restless dementia-associated restlessness, and the crating disallowed this and let him truly rest.

    At least Jamie is still giving you The Look! Glad he is recovering from the vestibular episode. A friend's 14yo Canaan Dog had a scary episode a few months back but she is fully recovered and back to being her old self.

  2. My senior with his vestibular episode went through exactly the same thing. Crate NEVER worked. Ex-pen - as large as you can get it - did. It seems he just needed to wander at night, and this allowed him to do so. Good luck and hugs to your boy Jamie.

  3. I wonder if he gets dizzy when he lays down. I do. I feel a little better if I move around for a bit. Maybe he does too. Hope you and he find a compromise that works. I have a lovely soft side xpen that I used when Jazz was recovering from his second knee surgery. It is one long screened fence so it can be many shapes or just be a fence. You could borrow it if you want to give it a try. Good luck.

  4. Actually I remember Lucy pacing after her vestibular stuff until I installed a night light. I think she got disoriented when it was dark and she woke up. It might help if you don't already do that.