Monday, 3 October 2011

Moving House

We have a good excuse for not posting for the last few weeks – we’ve moved house! After a lot of packing and unpacking, some painting and decorating and a bit of carpentry we are finally installed in our new, fabulous garden office: the new What Dogs Do HQ (still in South East London, UK).

Eddie and Cassie have had a few unsettled weeks, but have coped very well. We bought the new house from friends, who we actually know thanks to our dogs. We met them because they also have a greyhound, Bertie, and over the past year and some we have walked together, and often taken care of each other’s dogs. Eddie and Cassie know the house well, therefore, which on the whole has probably been an advantage. They immediately settled in their beds in the old study, which will eventually be our library, where they usually slept when staying with our friends, and where they will continue to sleep at night. I am hoping to install a wood-burning stove in there before winter, which will keep them warm and snug.

Nevertheless, they have been a little stressed and confused over the past two weeks, starting from when we were packing all our things in boxes in the old house. Their beloved routine was broken, both by our general business, and by the disappearance of their usual “landmarks” in the house. I am not sure if reappearance of our things in the new house reassured them or confused them more. For a few days they seemed quite perplexed, almost waiting to go “home” (as they usually did after staying in this house). But then again, we were all there, which was both strange and familiar, at the same time.

Although the first week wasn’t quite back to normal, we did establish the basics of routine – feeding, walking and bedtime – which allowed them to start feeling at home. However, a new element has been added, with a little challenge for the dogs. We now have our TV room upstairs, which we want them to join us in of an evening. Neither of them is keen on stairs, and haven’t previously encouraged them otherwise, as in the old house dogs did not go upstairs.

To help them overcome their awkwardness on stairs, I have tried to establish a routine that gives them a good reason to want to walk up: when we go to watch TV they get a yummy treat in their comfy beds upstairs. This seems to be working fairly well, and they certainly expect the treat now. Cassie rushes up, even though she is clearly still a little uncomfortable. Eddie, however, is still hesitant, and needs extra encouragement before braving the stairs. I hope that with practice he will gain confidence.

There was a small snag in re-establishing old routines at feeding time. I have written previously about how I expect my dogs to lie down and wait for their dinner until they invited to eat. For the first few days, Eddie and Cassie, seemed to find this challenging, even though they were so used to doing it in the old house. Not only was it a strange experience to be fed by us in this other house, but, I expect more importantly, my friend never did require them to lie down. To their minds that routine was firmly associated with the old house. After a few battles of the wills, however, it is now established as a routine in the new house too.

This will be the first week back to normal working routine for me and M, and the doggies too. That will mean that they can properly settle down in our new house. Cassie is a very relaxed little dog, and although she has made sure to patrol and sniff all new spaces thoroughly, she has been happy just to find a comfortable spot to lie in. Eddie is harder to please, and has been pacing and following us around a lot more than usual. His stomach has also shown his stress, with looser stool, which is still ongoing. I am hoping now we go back to a proper routine that will settle.

So starting today is another new routine, or rather a variation of an old one: coming with me to my office, as I work. I have purchased yet another pair of dog beds, taking the total in the house up to a somewhat embarrassing six! They have their night beds in the library, a couple of comfy beds up in the TV room upstairs to encourage them to spend time with us there, and two in the office, where I will be spending a lot of time during the days. I drew the line at getting beds for the kitchen.

Well, for me the point of having dogs is companionship, so I want them to be with me most of the time at home (although I prefer to sleep in a different room from them at night, due to smells and noises!).  The least they can expect from me is a comfortable place, and I think they seem comfortable enough!