Right, so today I was going to post some pictures of Frankie's sleep over and let you all soak in some puppy cuteness. Instead, I'm going to go on a bit of a anger fueled rant.
Yesterday, during one of my many email checks to procrastinate work, I noticed that someone had posted a new comment. I moderate comments so that A) I always know when someone has commented on a post and I can reply quickly and B) I can delete any comments which I find offensive. Now, I haven't had to use B at all up until I saw the comment left yesterday. It was offensive. In fact, you might even say that this comment made me pretty angry. And I don't get angry easily. I get defensive easily and I get annoyed easily, but I'm a fairly patient person when it comes to controlling my anger. And yet this comment made me rage.
The comment was left by a person who goes by the username "XXAngelRXX" and was on a post from June 29, 2010 titled, "Oh Happy Day". This was the day that Rocco had decided that the crate wasn't all that bad and took it upon himself to go in and have a nap. I shared with you all my elation at the fact that he had accepted his crate which is a good thing for all Guide Dog Puppies and good for my sleep pattern. "XXAngelRXX" left the comment, "I would scream too if I had to be shut in a tiny cage like that!" And now, my dear readers, you all probably understand why I got so angry at this comment, but for those of you who don't understand I shall try and explain the best I can.
The one thing that makes me angry when people comment about PITs is when they assume that we are abusing our pups. We all hear it, "Why are you making that puppy work!?" or "It's abuse to make an animal work." These and all their variations are usually said with a certain amount of venom and disgust. While I really want to, I control the hand that wants to smack them across the face or the voice that wants to tell them off loud and clear. I politely say "thank you for your input" and just walk away. The reason that comments like this anger me so is because those people generally don't know all of the facts and they probably have overweight dogs at home that have been conditioned to a life of boredom and doggie bon bons. (If you ask me, that's abuse.) I don't remember the last time I was able to "make" Freya do anything and if we didn't let her work, that could be considered abuse. (Really guys, they love working and those that don't we don't "make".) With all of that said, here are the specifics as to why this comment offended me.
1. The size of the crate was determined by a picture. Sometimes, pictures distort the image of things. That was a LARGE crate for a 5 month old puppy. At that point Rocco could still stretch and turn and stand in that crate just fine. About two weeks later when he had a growth spurt and could no longer stand in the crate because of his height I managed to borrow and extra large crate from the group until I could procure my own. (I didn't have an extra large crate for Freya because, let's face it, the girl barely got into her big girl before going back to GDB.)
2. Yes, Rocco use to scream in his crate...when he was a baby and the crate was so spacious that he could do laps in it. In fact, we usually put the babies in a smaller crate, but I decided to use the large so that maybe he would feel more comfortable.
3. I admit, I let Rocco cry it out and didn't coddle him every time he started screaming. "But Erin! Isn't that...*looks fearfully to both sides*...abuse!?" Well, no, actually it is not. You know when kids start throwing a fit, not because there's something particularly wrong with them but because they want attention or they want to be close to you all the time? That's what Rocco was doing. He wanted attention, he didn't want to not be touching me, and he didn't understand why he could snuggle all night. So, like trying to teach a child that that is their bed and that is Mommy's bed and Mommy can't hold you all the time, I was teaching Rocco that it was OK to be away from me sometimes and that I would always be there in the morning. Obviously, if he started crying after hours of silence I took him out and took him potty or tried to see if there was something wrong with him. And when we were going through the acid reflex stage and the everything I put in my mouth makes my tummy hurt stage I would take him out and cuddle him if there had been hours of silence. Poor baby had a hurting tummy.
4. Finally, crate training is not abuse. I know that a lot of people out there think it is, but it's really not. If fact, it is a lot safer than letting a young puppies sleep loose. Rocco was still at that stage where everything was food and long time readers will remember that anytime he put something that wasn't food in his mouth he would throw it up. If he was allowed to sleep loose he could eat something that upset his tummy, or worse, he could eat something that could be potentially harmful to him. I know he looked big in the picture, but we have to remember that he was only 5 months old which means he was still very much a puppy.
Well "XXAngelRXX" I hope that clears up some of the confusion. You see, these dogs are far from abused even if they need to sleep in a crate when they're babies to avoid emergency trips to the vet. In fact, we probably make a stronger bond with our puppies in the year-year and a half we have them than you would with a pet dog in the same amount of time. They are with us for 95% of the time and, let me tell you, we put every drop of love we have into these puppies. So, yes "XXAngelRXX", he slept in a crate as a puppy but the last thing I ever did to my Boy was make him uncomfortable due to the size of the crate.