I've outlined the problem before. Basically, since his back surgery in November, Chickens has to stay in a crate in the living room at night. He's actually somewhat OK with that, except for the fact that he's a giant sissy who doesn't like to be all alone in the dark. So Sal stays on the couch to ensure that the only whining we hear is because Chickens pooped his cage, a problem that needs attention right away. When there's no poop - which happens maybe half the time - we all get a decent night's sleep.
One solution might be obvious - put the dog in the bedroom. Right? Except we live in a house that's nearly a century old, so the bedrooms are very small. And the cage we bought him after his surgery is huge.
As was the Pack-n-Play where we stored him when he first came home. (What, mom? That's not why you bought us that?)
That first week, we did lug the cage into the bedroom every night, but it is ridiculously heavy. And that strategy was doomed anyway because Chickens was in so much pain and so drugged up that he cried a ton. And remember, Mia was just 4 weeks old at that time, so we (read: I) needed any amount of sleep possible. So to the couch Sal went, and he's been there ever since. (Oh, except for New Year's Eve, when we gave Chickens a sedative because of the gunfire and fireworks, and we gave ourselves a sedative of a bottle and a half of champagne, and Mia inexplicably, miraculously slept for like two extra hours. Otherwise known as The Last Good Night.)
Anyway. Well, here is where I have something very cool to report. A Chickenbone Jones reader whom I have never even met in person (HI, MEGHAN!) got tired of my whining - or, maybe she's just a very nice person - and offered to give us a smaller wire crate to put in the bedroom. Can you believe it? Sweetest thing ever. So it arrived last weekend, and we bought a pad for it, put some blankets and treats into it, and look what happened next!
Chickens walked right in and plopped down for a nap! I heaved a huge sigh of relief before it hit me - this isn't going to be nearly as easy as it looks. First of all, Chickens is all nice and used to his slumber parties with dad out in the living room. And I think he has made it clear he's not too fond of change. Second of all, this new "house" is putting him smack in the center of a memory that pains all of us - that for three years he slept in the bed with mom and dad. He'd start the night buried deep in the covers at our feet, but by morning he always worked his way up until he was laying between us, his head on a pillow and the blankets tucked over his shoulders like he was a real person. He loved it, we loved it. And it can never, ever happen again.
The chances of him leaping off the bed and reinjuring himself are just too great, so after his accident, away went his little steps and he hasn't been up there since. Which hasn't been a problem, but I have a sinking feeling that when we put him in the crate and he watches us climb into bed without him, it is NOT going to go over well. I fear we're in for some long and noisy nights as we all get used to the new setup.
So we decided to wait until tonight to try it, since as of 3 p.m. today, I'm off for winter break. And if my nights get ruined, at least I can try to nap during the day and not have to be coherent at work for eight hours. We have a full nine nights to work this out, and as with everything in my life these days, I think patience is the key. (Well, patience and bourbon.) And if we can solve this problem, it will leave us with just the whole handicapped thing.
Oh! And good news on that front. Lately we have been able to take Chickens on a "walk" outside without using that rear-end sling. He can make it maybe five or six house lengths, carefully putting one foot in front of the other, and not falling down at all. After that he gets a bit wobbly and tired, so we put him in the sling so he won't scrape his little knees. But still, this is huge progress. When I am feeling very blue, Sal likes to remind me that it was not even seven weeks ago that Chickens stood on his own for the first time. That we can take him on even a semi-successful walk less than two months later is pretty amazing. And when we get a bit more progress on that front, he can resume his regular pooping schedule, meaning no more little brown surprises at 3 a.m. Unfortunately we are still expressing his bladder four or five times per day, but when we go on walks he is still emitting small spurts of pee, so SOMETHING is going on there. We are convinced that we'll see improvement as we get better with the walking. The poor guy just needs some practice.
So, tonight! Here we go. I'm just glad I recently discovered the key to surviving sleep deprivation: It hurts a whole lot less if you stop counting the hours!