Friday, November 10, 2006
The Mystery of the Spritz
It's been puppy CSI around here lately. We're trying to solve the mystery of the "spritz" that happens each time we put Kirby in his crate and leave the house. For context, Kirby's crate is inside of a little newspaper-lined pen we've set up in our kitchen. When we leave for short periods, we put Kirby in his crate to keep him from chewing up artwork and electrical wires and causing other trouble in the house (ounce of prevention...). Before we put him in, we make sure he has gone outside to do his business and hasn't had water for a while.
As we leave, Kirby barks and starts pawing at the door of the crate. We figured he must settle down eventually because he's usually quiet when we come back. But each time we return, the front of the towel in his crate is all wet. There are little droplets of liquid all along the front of the crate and on the door. Outside the door, on the newspaper, is an array of droplets. Kirby's front feet are wet, but his back feet are not.
Our first thought was that he did his #1 through the door of the crate. But oddly enough, his beard is usually wet, and laying in it is not something he's inclined to do. The wet towel doesn't smell like #1 and usually the wetness is more of a spritz than a puddle (although it has, at times, made a tiny puddle in the front of the crate). This happens every time we leave.
We decided the only way to find out what was happening while we were away was to set up a camera. So we took my laptop and Webcam into the kitchen and set it up to focus on his crate door. My husband sat in the back office with the other computer. We set up a video conversation on Messenger, then Baxter and I left for our morning walk. I could hear Kirby going into his micro-whine and bark as I closed the door.
What my husband witnessed was an act of tenacity, the likes of which he had never seen. As Kirby barked, he proceeded to flail himself against the sides of the crate and rattle the metal wire door with his front feet. He tried to chew through the holes on the side of the crate, then he pushed his snout through the bars at the bottom of the door and lifted up on it, trying to jiggle the door latch open. He did a pretty good job of rattling the door, but wasn't successful at opening it. (I should note that on his first night with us, while he was in Baxter's old crate, I didn't latch both the top and bottom of the door and Kirby managed to get it open...this he remembers, I'm sure.) He'd stop and rest for a minute or so and then start again, barking, digging at the bottom of the crate, licking and chewing on the bars of the metal crate door.
Puppy spittle. The "mystery spritz" is puppy spittle.
Now that we can close the books on this little X-File, we have to figure out how to warm Kirby up to the idea of being in his crate. He sleeps like an angel through the night now (the crate is next to our bed) and doesn't argue about it at all. But it's obviously a different story in the daytime. Perhaps we didn't do enough to get him used to the crate in a casual setting, letting him go in and out of the crate at will, so he now thinks of it as punishment.
I think we'll try leaving the door open and putting the crate into areas where we are, so he gets used to the idea that it's just a doggy bed and quiet place. And perhaps, if we're lucky, we can prevent the little guy from eventually digging a tunnel through the kitchen floor...