When my pup was just over a year old, the Ghost Ship Fire happened in Oakland. 36 people died in a warehouse that had been converted into artist co-op with an illegal dance club on the second floor. When the fire started, the young people dancing upstairs were trapped, and they died.
Every night on the news.
Every day in the papers.
Being the OCD person that I am, I worried about fire in my own house, and how my crated puppy would get out. After all, she slept down in the kitchen, and I was at the other end of the house in the master bedroom. It was December. The furnace was running. Most house fires are in the winter, right?
One night, after having heard the horrors of the Ghost Ship fire yet again, I decided that I would put my pup in her crate and shut the door, but I wouldn’t lock it. That way she could get out if she needed to.
It was holiday time, and I had a stack of filled but unwrapped shirt boxes on a tall wooden stool near the crate. In my infinite wisdom I might have even put the stool in front of the crate door.
At 3:00 a.m. I heard a crash. I jumped out of bed and ran down the hall to the kitchen. There was my spooked dog with shirt boxes scattered all over the floor. Pepper had come out of her crate in the dark and bumped the stool.
After that, my young dog associated the crashing noise with the crate. She never entered her crate again. After a month of trying food, treats, and other means of coaxing her back in, I packed up the crate and put it in the garage.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
I should’ve turned off the news and kept locking the dog in her crate, although now she is my alarm clock and comes down every morning from her dog bed in the kitchen to wake me up.
The crate served its purpose the first year, keeping her and my belongings safe, and it helped to house-train her, too. I put her behind a baby gate in the bathroom when I left the house, and she never once jumped over it, although she could have easily done so. I’d moved the doggie door to the same bathroom before all of this happened.