Sir Milo Barksalot

I know, another boring puppy post. Please don’t hate me, he’s all I’ve got.

As I’ve documented here before, life with a puppy is harder than it sounds. I love Milo, he’s eye-wateringly cute and my heart swells when he falls asleep with his little perma-sad face on my lap, but he’s ruining my social life. Well, him and Eoin’s job.

We literally don’t get out much these days because of the hours Eoin is working, but on the rare occasions we do, Milo has to be kept safe in the apartment. To make sure he doesn’t chew any more electrical cables, or eat what’s left of the rental furniture, I’ve been crate training him. It’s been going well so far; he sleeps in his crate quietly with the door closed every night and I pop him in there a couple of times a day so he can learn to entertain himself. He tends to moan about it but once I go in and fire some verbal abuse his way he normally just shuts up and falls asleep. His crate is warm, cosy, full of his favourite chew toys and well-stocked with treats, but as far as Milo is concerned it’s missing once crucial thing – me.

About three weeks ago we went to see The Coronas downtown. We left the house, and Milo, at about 7.30pm and were home just before 1am. He stays quietly in the crate for longer than that every night so we hoped he would simply curl up and go asleep while we were out, since that’s what he’s used to doing when we’re there. Boy, were we wrong.

Two days later, I received a phonecall from lovely Lissa in our leasing office to say there’d been a complaint that Milo had barked pretty much the whole night long. And since we were home well after “quiet time” started at 10pm, we were in troubs for breaking the rules. I apologised profusely, explained that we were in the process of training him, said it would never happen again and then kicked Milo to a pulp. Well, I apologised. The complainer, who obviously has a dog too, suggested we but a blanket over the crate to make it even more inviting and den-like for him. What a nice complainer, I thought, and did just that.

Since then, and I’m not being smug here, Milo has come on in leaps and bounds and is learning a lot. In six days he’s only had one pee accident, he can sit on command and we’ve started a puppy obedience course to help him learn more manners. I’m not the type of dog owner who lets him walk all over me. I’m not his “mama” and I treat him like an animal, because that’s what he is, and that’s our trainer’s philosophy. The aim is that he’ll see me as someone he wants to please and he’ll do that by being a good little dog.

But even though I’m trying to be a mega-bitch when he’s not pleasing me, Milo still doesn’t like us to be apart. Eoin and I were at a dinner last night for three hours and when we returned at 8.30pm, this was stuck on our door:

I was incensed. What kind of a MORON can’t spell the word ‘hear’? Then I felt bad. Not for Milo, he was just being bold, but for the note-writer. Then I felt annoyed. He’s a small dog and has a bark to match. The neighbours might have been able to hear him but he was hardly disturbing them, and we were home early. Then I felt guilty. What if they were trying to meditate? Then I felt disappointed. Now we can’t go out to celebrate Paddy’s Day next week with all the other ex-pats. Then I felt desperate. I do everything the books suggest before crating him: I walk him for hours, make sure he’s, er, empty, leave a radio on and keep his crate in the room where my scent is everywhere. But still Milo can’t bear to be apart from me. There’s only one explanation: I must be a really great person.

If you have any advice on how to help Milo get used to being alone, or a magic pill I can give him, please do share. I’m getting desperate.

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6 thoughts on “Sir Milo Barksalot

  1. Hi Sarah
    It’s Jen from U mag here, I don’t know if you remember me. I’ve been surfing for Friday afternoon and reading all your puppy posts. I feel your pain.
    I have a three year old chocolate lab (he’s called Kramer, Nathalie will tell you how cute he is, she took beautiful photos of him when he was a pup) and he has separation anxiety. People don’t realise what hard work pup’s are and think you’re nuts when you go on about it but we had a nightmare of a time with our bundle of joy. But it gets better, honestly.
    You’re already way ahead of Kramer, who has to sleep on the floor of our room he’s so bad, but we had the same thing with the barking. What I found really worked was routine. If there’s any way you can leave him on his own at the same time every day for an hour or two, even if you just sit on the floor in the hallway (and do it during the day when there are less people in your building to complain) and get him used to the fact that you will come back. Also do the exact same thing every time you do it so that he knows what’s coming. We leave Kramer out the back where he has a kennel and we ask him if he’d like some food and put his water and some warm food outside for him. He seems to know that he has that and goes to sleep and we’ll come home.
    It’s ridiculous I know, but once he figured out the routine life became much easier – well that and a finding the right kennel you can rely on and send him to when you want to go out for a long day and you’re worried he’ll eventually freak out.
    Puppies = very cute but very hard work.
    Good luck!
    Jen

    • Hi Jen, great to hear from you! And thanks for the tips. I agree that it’s going to take routine and persistence to knock this on the head. If only there was a magic pill I could slip him!
      PS Chocolate labrador…yummy

  2. The FIRST thing I noticed was the spelling mistake! I understand a barking dog must be annoying but they’re leaving you snotty notes after he barked the first or second time? Sheesh, can’t they give you five minutes?! If it was going on for weeks with no sign of you training him or if you were out every single day for 18 hours and he barked every single day for 18 hours I can understand them being ratty. But you went out once – give a girl a break!

    No advice for you, I don’t own a dog, just sending you good wishes and a hug for Milo!

  3. Pingback: Milo at five months | Coming To America

  4. We had the same problem…and I’m pretty sure the neighbour in question can’t spell “hear” either. She lives downstairs and is an absolute cow…anyway, a good few months ago she complained, NOT TO US like a normal person would but to our letting agency about Albi’s barking. (He barked whenever we left him in the house on his own, whether it was 5 mins to 2 hours.) I pretty much hate this woman for what she did, because she almost got us evicted. Dogs are technically not allowed in our complex but a lot of us own small dogs and the agency just kind of turns a blind eye. However, if you happen to live above a hideous human being who throws you dirty looks everytime she sees you and she complains about the dog, well then you could be evicted. Anyway, our solution to this problem was to get another dog…as utterly ridiculous and stupid as that sounds. Actually we didn’t get Sina specifically to solve the problem, we got her because we wanted another dog but this ended up stopping the barking completely as now they just play together when we’re gone. This is most definitely NOT the advice you wanted to hear/read and when Albi was 5 months old it wouldn’t have been for me either…also Milo is an entirely different breed to Albi so the barking may well improve (or else it has improved by now…I realise this is an older post!). But perhaps it’s something to keep in mind? I think dogs do well with little furry companions 🙂 Sorry if this was totally useless… I love your blog though and now I’m slightly obsessed.

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