My mystery Weird Back Pain got much worse and then it got better—I think that chiropractors are trained to make it happen that way, because if they just instantly cured you, you might feel like their job was too easy. No, first they work on you and you spend the rest of the day wondering if it might just be easier to lay down and die, and then you wake up the next morning going, “Huh. I think I feel better.” Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I am definitely FOR the “I think I feel better” part. (In this particular case I suspect the chiro merely scared my injury into submission. She said she was concerned I might have pleurisy given the location and behavior of the pain. But then I Googled it and decided I was definitely not okay with having that, and POOF, I got better. Woo!)
So, given that yesterday 1) I decided to LIIIIIIVE and 2) the kids were off with their dad, Otto and I decided to spend the day Doing Things. I found myself uncharacteristically concerned about the dog, because in the seven months we’ve had her (wow, I can’t believe we’ve had her for seven months) she’s not been left home alone for more than a few hours at a time. I’m here with her all day during the week, and on the weekends we tend not to be out for too long, and yesterday, well, we planned to be out the entire day.
I tried not to be too neurotic about it. But I am, after all, you know… ME.
I played with her after breakfast and gave her extra treats and finally when the time came, I closed her in her crate and told her to be a good girl and we went off to run our errands.
The first time I became a dog owner, we used a crate for the dog while housebreaking him, and then once he was trained we stopped using it. When that dog turned out to be The Most Neurotic Dog Who Ever Lived (which, it should be noted, didn’t happen until he was a couple of years old), on our vet’s advice we tried to crate train to “help him feel more secure.” That particular dog NEVER bonded with the crate and I always felt like I was torturing him whenever we put him in it.
Licorice, on the other hand, came to us loving the crate. She would enter it of her own volition, in the early days, when she felt overwhelmed. She happily runs to it when you tell her it’s bedtime, or when I tell her I’m leaving and she needs to “go crate.” And so years of believing that crating must be cruel and unusual punishment has been undone as I’ve realized that, yes, dogs really do enjoy cave-dwelling and most of them actually love the crate. Plus, on any given day when I’m here working, what does the dog do all day? Sleep. So putting her in the crate for her all-important eight-hour-long nap doesn’t feel mean.
Licorice’s crate has the same sort of latch that I think most of those “Pet Porter” containment units do, which is two pieces of metal that can be squeezed to “shorten” them, then when the door is closed and you release, one slides into a hole at the top of the door opening and the other slides into a hole at the bottom. I squeezed and closed the door and latched it as I always do, told Licorice to be a good girl, and we left.
When we arrived home many hours later, I opened the door and… was greeted by a VERY excited dog who jumped all over me to express her glee that we had COME BACK! TO HER! BACK! HOME! LOVE ME LOVE ME GIVEMETREATS!
Otto and I exchanged confused looks. Had Licorice grown thumbs and let herself out of the crate? (Hopefully not.) Had I somehow not latched it properly? (More likely.) We had assumed she was safely crated, and so the entire house was open and accessible, which meant that we had no idea what we might find.
Back in her early days with us, if we didn’t read Licorice’s polite “Excuse me, madam, but if it’s not too much trouble, I am in dire need of a trip to the outdoor powder room, please” signs, she would run upstairs to the kids’ play room and crap all over the floor. (Always that room. We don’t know why.) So of course once we got over the shock we went right upstairs, and finding the floor in that room pristine, commenced searching the rest of the rest of the house. We found no accidents, no evidence of any destruction, and despite extensive patting down of her favorite somewhat verboten lounging areas (such as our bed), weren’t even able to locate a tell-tale warm spot to tell us where she’d passed the time. In fact, the only evidence I could find of where she’d recently been was an askew armrest cover on her favorite chair; a sure sign she’d been on her perch, watching out the window for us to come back.
Otto wondered if this meant maybe we should let her have the run of the house while we’re out, from now on, but I said that I think she knew she wasn’t supposed to be out, and so she was mostly good so as not to get into trouble.
“Mostly good” is what Chickadee is, for example, on those rare stints when she’s allowed to stay home alone for an hour or so. “Mostly good” means you don’t do anything obvious.
But Licorice, man, she’s got that same mischievous streak her sister has. We passed the evening quizzing her about her day.
“Licorice! Tell the truth, honey. Did you eat cookies and watch Teen Nick while we were out?”
“Oh, Licorice… you don’t need that treat. You and I both know you probably helped yourself to the chewy sticks in the back of the pantry because no one was looking.”
“Licorice, we know you threw a party while we were gone. Coming clean about it may factor into a lighter consequence for your actions, but continuing to pretend nothing happened is not going to go well for you.”
And my personal favorite: “How many times have we told you, Licorice, that you can’t spend all day on the computer chatting with your friends? Even if you DID go and grow opposable thumbs and let yourself out of the crate beforehand??”
Kids dogs today, man. You have to watch them EVERY SECOND.