Last Friday I packed the family and drove to Vancouver, Washington to spend the weekend with my Dad and his wife for Father’s Day. This was a trip that was originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend but we postponed it once we learned our Au Pair was going to be in Vancouver the same time. We didn’t want to leave our seven month old puppy Brodie home alone nor did we want to subject him to a kennel – so we decided to wait until we knew Hany would be around to help take care of him.

Our new backyard project involves removing the brick patio so we can replace it with a wood deck

You never know how dogs will react the first time they are left alone for an entended period of time – especially a puppy. We told Hany she didn’t have to lock him in the laundry room while she was gone (as we sometimes do) because we now have him successfully trained to use the doggy door leading to the backyard and we thought it would be good for him to be able to go in and and out as he pleased.

Fortunately, we didn’t receive any calls or texts from Hany while we were gone, so we assumed all was going well Brodie. When we returned on Sunday, Brodie was predictably excited. He couldn’t stop whimpering, jumping and running around the house and backyard. We had no doubt we were sorely missed. But as we ventured throughout the house, we could tell that our absence did have an impact on him.

The floors were a mess. Brodie did take advantage of the doggy door but in doing so he dragged in and chewed up dozens of vines from our fence. He also got into some of our fake plants (which has fake grass covering) and spread the grass all over the carpet. In the kitchen trash can I found two of his old stuffed toys that he had totally demolished. They were torn open and apart – ripped to shreds and now useless. I also found our TV remote control chewed up (but somehow still functional). Brodey was not a happy boy.

After we unloaded the car I headed into the backyard and started working on a project removing our brick patio. Brodie was still fired up – and apparently not happy with us. He continually jumped and bit at Stone, Ty and myself – fortunately not forcefully or angrily – but it was clear he was sending a message. He ignored my commands way more than usual and seemed intent on being as mischievous as possible. Even when I tried to throw the ball for him to fetch and play, he was only half-hearted and dropped the ball far from me many times. As Sunday evening wore on his behavior gradually improved but he remained extremely clingy and was much more cuddly on the couch than normal

By Monday he seemed to be mostly recovered but he continued some of his mischievous ways. Even though he knew he wasn’t supposed to, he again found the TV remote and seemed ready to finish the job he started on the weekend until I intervened.

It’s an important lesson and reminder that dogs are very emotional creatures just like us humans. They have fears and get scared when facing a new situation – especially one that involves not having their family or pack with them for the first time. I’m not sure what else we could have done to make the experience any easier on Brodie but I know he’ll do better with it as he gets older and gets used to us leaving (and returning) more often.

In the meantime, I think that bribing him with a giant chewie treat helped win him over and we’re buddies again.

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