The first night Mark and I got Buster was rough. Buster is our 80 pound Boxer. We drove to a small town outside of Columbia, MO after seeing an ad on Craigslist to see if he would be a good fit. When we entered the home, Buster immediately ran up to Mark and gave him a huge dog hug (you know… when you bend down and the dog puts his two front paws on your shoulders). At that moment, I knew Buster was going to be our dog. We opened the door to the backseat of our car, and Buster hopped in with no reservations. As we drove away, Mark looked in the rear view mirror at Buster, who was happily panting, and said “You just hit the jackpot buddy.”
We got home and introduced Buster to his new space. We let him explore all the rooms and sniff around. We set up his feeding station and got out some toys. We walked around the backyard with him. We wanted him to feel comfortable.
When it came time for bed, I climbed into my side and patted the bed for Buster to get up. He just stared at me. I looked at Mark and told him to try and coax him into bed. Mark patted the bed and called Buster’s name as well, but Buster would not budge. He just sat there on the floor, staring up at us. “Where will he sleep if he won’t get in bed?”, I asked Mark. Eventually, Mark hoisted him onto our bed. In a flash, he jumped off the bed and was sitting back in the exact same spot, staring up at us. Mark decided we should just turn the lights off, shut the bedroom door, and see where he landed. Buster paced and paced. He would not get settled, so I got up and took him out into the living room. I was somehow able to maneuver him up onto the couch and hold him tightly in place. “He must just need my comfort”, I thought. It was almost two in the morning, and anytime my grip loosened on Buster, he would scamper down to the floor. I had to sleep, so as a last resort I got out the kennel that was given to us as a part of the “rehoming fee”. His previous owner said that he “liked” it. I set the kennel up and before I could get the last click in place, Buster was curled up like a little baby. I left the door to the kennel open and went to bed. I realized, in the morning, that Buster’s comfort came from being in the tiny confined space where his previous owner admittedly kept him for 12-15 hours a day. He was actually scared to not sleep there.
It took about six weeks for Buster to realize that he didn’t need his kennel anymore. Every night, we would leave the door to his kennel open with a dog bed sitting right next to it. Over the next few months it was amazing to see Buster come out of his shell. He became more curious, more confident, and more loving. It was like watching a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. He started interacting with his world rather than just observing it and it was beautiful.
Four years later, Buster willingly and without invitation gets in the bed and on the couch. He even occasionally gets in our guest bed, when guests are sleeping in it, without permission. I single handedly ruined what might have been the most polite dog on the planet.
These days, our nightly routine is extremely different than the first night we brought Buster home. Buster tries to get in our bed (and so does our Jack Russell mix, Pete) and we have to kick him out. He has developed quite the snoring problem and having a dog the size of a fifth grader in your bed doesn’t create a conducive sleeping environment. Both of the boys have beds in our master bathroom. We leave the door open and put a baby gate in the doorway. Every morning, when the alarm goes off, Buster paws at the baby gate so we will remove it and both dogs sprint into the bed to enjoy morning snuggles.
Don’t let the habits of the past dictate your future opportunities. Be like Buster and bust out! Our pets bring us so much comfort, laughter, and companionship. What are the sleeping habits and challenges for you and your dog(s)? Let us know by posting on our facebook page or shooting us an email at email@example.com.