Editor’s Note: Helena Andrews is a writer for Dogster’s sister SAY Media site, xojane.com. This article first ran on xojane.com, but we’re rerunning it (with permission!) so Dogster readers can weigh in.
My Pug, Miles, is officially a canine curmudgeon. At just five years old, he’s decided that he no longer has to bend to “the man.” He’s his own private island now. The Kanye West of Westminster contenders.
“If you walk into an old man’s house, they’re not giving nothing,” West told the New York Times recently in a haywire interview rife with Jack Handey-worthy “deep” thoughts. “They’re at 100 percent exactly what they want to do.”
Miles must’ve picked up a copy. Because my normally sweet and down-for-whatever Pug has turned into a total jerk since we moved from a semi-crowded two bedroom to a split-level row house practically twice the size, with a backyard and no sirens, which we stupidly figured would be perfect for dogs. Not so, said the Pug.
I know moving is stressful for animals in general, but Miles, as my canine life partner, has moved with me something like four times. We’ve been in two apartments in Washington, he’s lived in two different homes in Georgia and even did a short bid in Los Angeles and New York. God, this makes me sound like a bad Teen Mom, but I prefer to think of myself as the Angelina Jolie of dog parents.
He is well-traveled, not unstable. Seriously, when Miles sees his carrier come out of the closet, he hops right in. But his attitude toward the new house has shifted completely.
As soon as I started packing, Miles sensed something was up and proceeded to follow me around the house in an attempt to bully me into staying. Or overwhelm me with cuteness until I was too tired to keep boxing up all our stuff. This would have been sweet if he didn’t also splay himself melodramatically in front of empty bins as I tried to fill them, blocking my path with his body in non-violent protest.
When that didn’t work, he switched to this creepy stare-down method, in which he’d retreat to a corner of the room and just glare at us.
We walked him over to the new place twice, letting him roam around peeing and sniffing all up on what he needed to. But after doing a lazy half-lap around the house and looking at the stairway to hell, Miles was over it.
The BIG reveal was the patio. I flung open the double doors dramatically and Miles tentatively placed one paw out then immediately retracted it as if electrocuted. He pushed past our shins toward the front door in a Pug huff.
“Time to go now!” his snorting seemed to say. “This place sucks.”
The move itself wasn’t so bad. Miles barked the crap out of Kenny’s and Mike’s ankles as they professionally hauled our stuff through the house, then peed directly into their paths. And when Miles was summarily banished to the guest room, he only howled for maybe two hours.
But the real fun came that night — the first sleepover in the new place. I made sure to keep all of Miles’ old stuff. I didn’t wash his bed or the now-ratty silk pillow he claimed off the couch a few years ago, making sure all the familiar smells of home were wafting about.
We even threw in some of the sweaty clothes we’d been wearing that day. Not as punishment, but as a security blanket. Miles did not care at all about this.
When darkness fell, after giving Miles a massage (yep, I’m one of those people) and his favorite toy (a stuffed Dachshund missing a black felt eye), it was time for bed. Our bedroom is now upstairs, and we didn’t want to start a terrible precedent by letting him sleep there. So we climbed one flight up, exhausted from the day and ready to collapse, and hoped Miles would do the same. Nope.
As soon as we disappeared, Miles went berserk. He stationed himself at the foot of the stairs — stairs I’d personally led him up and down nearly 10 times earlier — and began a harrowing song of oppression that lasted until around 2 a.m.
“Do not go down there! Don’t let him win,” my boyfriend whispered.
“He’s scared! We can’t just leave him there.”
“It’s not the side of the road. It’s downstairs. He’s a dog. He’s fine.”
Ya’ll already know I went down there no less than four times that night. Coaxing Miles back to his bed and cooing him to snoring. But as soon as I vanished behind the landing, he’d be right back at it with the howling and the whining and then barking. It never stopped.
The next day Miles sat on his haunches waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs with a smug grin. He’d won the first battle and he knew it.
This cannot go on. I know it takes time, but I also know I like sleep.
Has anyone out there moved a dog and figured out the magical mix of tough love and extra treats that convinced the dog to calm the heck down? I need to know! Please share your stories in the comments.
Read more on moving and dogs:
- My Dogs and I Move House a LOT: Here’s How We Stay Sane
- How Can I Make Moving Houses Easier for my Dog?
- Moving to a New Home? Don’t Forget to Prepare Your Dog!
- Preparing Your Home for a Puppy