Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Escape Artist! (Caution, poop is mentioned far too many times.)

So, Brownie, being basically feral, has probably rarely or never been inside before, and clearly is not house-trained.  She has no idea that while we humans do our business inside, we really prefer that our critters keep it in the great outdoors.  What she did know however, from thousands of years of evolutionary training, was that she must not soil the "den" (a plastic baby pool inside a crate) where her babies were.  This would attract predators and risk disease.  In fact, momma dogs eat their puppies' poop and lick up pee, keeping their puppies and the immediate surroundings immaculately clean.  Brownie is great at this, and the pen stayed pristine.

I was letting her outside regularly during the day, but who knew what she was doing out there, since she immediately removed herself from my sight by going behind Tony's detached office, or, if I walked back there, to the side of the office.  OK, yes, we went in circles and she never stopped to potty at all unless I gave her some privacy.  Dogs really can control our behavior.  So, I would leave her out for 5-30 minutes, and then let her back in, hoping that she had emptied herself out.  Umm...this wasn't working too well.

Dogs who are feeding seven puppies must eat and drink a lot.  Since kibble is mostly fillers, which the dog cannot use, it just...passes through.  Thus, they poop a lot, too, and these are not firm, small, innocuous poops. They are the exact opposite, and that is all that needs to be said about that.  Brownie and the babies were in a two and a half foot tall pen.  Brownie would jump out to go potty elsewhere in the office, and never on the newspaper or puppy pads.  Luckily, the floor is concrete, so it was easy to clean up, not a huge problem, at least while Tony was out of town.  The main problem at this point was that Brownie could not seem to get back into the pen after she jumped out, there was too much risk of her landing on the babies, maybe?, and the babies should not be without momma for so long at this age.  I figured if I could keep her in the pen, she'd hold it and we wouldn't have a problem.

The first thing I tried was covering the pen with a tarp and zip-tying it on.  Yeah, she tore a hole in the tarp and escaped, probably right after I closed the door behind me.  More poo to clean up.  Thank god for Nature's Miracle.  So, I stepped it up, and got a cover for the pen-it's made of the same type of mesh, and just lays on top.  I used some clamps to attach it to the top of the pen.  Nope, she jostled the pen around and got a corner loose that she could escape through.  So then, I tried two pens, attached to each other, one for the puppies and one for pottying in.  Nope, jumped out of there, too.  Last try, I put her in one pen and zip-tied the top on.  (I had moved them into the kitchen at this point to get them out of Tony's space and into a place where she'd be around people (well, me) more.)  Anyway, I thought "ha, I win-she'll just have to hold it."  Oh no, that was a huge mistake.  I went to work and Tony was out in his office.  When he came in to check on Brownie, she had jumped around and jostled the pen so much that she had lifted it up and set it down on one of the pups.  That girl was squealing her head off, so luckily she was alive.  Tony rescued her, and though she was totally freaked out, she walked and pooped and ate, so everything appeared to be OK.  We are taking no chances of that happening again.  The current (and possibly permanent while she lives with us) solution is to put her and the puppies in the kitchen at night and leave the door to the pen open so the puppies stay in and momma can potty in the kitchen.  Not the best for us, and none of you will ever! foster a dog, but I just do a lot of mopping and keep those babies alive.  We will continue to work on her socialization, leash training and house training in the hopes of making her adoptable.

To end on a more fun note:

Puppy in a can! 
(Sorry about the poor photo quality, but you can't stage these things in good lighting)

It took some doing to get her out of there, her head was really wedged in!  She wasn't at all concerned either, just licking away.  We have better secured the recycling bin to keep this from happening again, even though it was the highlight of my day.

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