Look close, she's in there!
I teach a training class on Sunday nights, and sometimes I bring Maisy with me. Today, I wanted to celebrate two huge successes that have come of that practice.
A couple weeks ago, I brought Maisy and put her in a crate in a corner of the training room. Historically, Maisy has had trouble being crated at busy/stressful events. I've had to sit next to her and drop treats in every few minutes in order to keep her quiet. This kind of babysitting was doable, but also a little frustrating; it's hard to walk a course or go to the bathroom at a trial if your dog can't be alone for even a few minutes.
When I'm teaching, that's obviously not going to work. I have to, you know, teach. So I put Maisy in her crate with a trachea chew and left. I did come back when I could to drop a treat in, but it was probably only 3 or 4 times over the course of a 90 minute class.
And she was awesome. She did growl once (quietly) when one of the student dogs had a reactive outburst, but I was still pretty happy with how well she did. She came out of her crate happy and eager to socialize with my co-teacher, and was completely mellow at home- no residual stress followed.
Last Sunday I brought Maisy with me again, but since I was running a bit late, I didn't have time to bring her in the building. Instead, I left her in the car crate with the windows down. Maisy is used to hanging out in her car crate. Not only does she have to ride in it any time we go somewhere, but I also have made a habit of having her hang out in it when the weather permits. I was confident that she'd be comfortable.
What I wasn't expecting was how comfortable she'd be. I went out to collect her after class was over, expecting that she'd be awake and maybe even a little stressed. After all, the students (and their dogs) had all just been in the parking lot to load up and go home for the night. Instead, Maisy was asleep. More than that, she was sound asleep.
I expected that when I walked up to the car, she'd wake up, but she didn't. I said her name softly (remember, the window was down). Nothing. I said her name again, louder. Still nothing. I started to panic a little bit, because sleep can look a lot like dead when you're a world-class worrier like me. Maisy did not lift her head until I was opening her crate door. Even then, she gave me a look like, "Why are you interrupting my nap?"
Silly girl. Amazing girl! Normal girl? I don't know, but let me tell you: I am so proud of my girl. I can't believe how far she's come.