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Becoming a foster parent to Chloe - Part 2

The greatest difficulty Chloe and I had adjusting to the new arrangement reared it’s head the second night I spent in the house.  Working fulltime I had a fairly steady schedule and a routine that involved a standard 7:30 wake up time, quite early for a chronic light sleeper like myself.  Chloe on the other hand, due mainly to her owners working random and often late hours and in part to being a dog, did not have a daily routine where sleep was scheduled in. 

I took her for what seemed to me to be a lengthy walk and was sensitive to her needs in regards to nature but was nudged awake by her at random times of the night.  I soon realised that Chloe wasn’t necessarily waking me up to go outside for natural purposes.  Sometimes she would just walk around or chase noises.  Being a light sleeper it made it very difficult for me to get anymore than a few hours of sleep a night and the deprivation was affecting my mood and concentration levels at work in addition to being a little grumpy with Chloe when being woken up.

It hadn’t occurred to me yet that the behaviour was probably due to separation anxiety coupled with the fact that Chloe had never had a steady routine and now without any human stimulation during the day, would probably have spent a great deal of it sleeping.   After querying my friends of Chloe’s erratic sleeping patterns to no avail and a brief venting of my predicament it was soon clear to me that for the well being of Chloe and my own health I had to take things into my own hands.

I had already established at this point that scheduling toilet times was not the solution here.  Chloe had the opportunity during the entire day, during walks, outside play and just before bed to take care of business.  I thought maybe a more intensive exercise regime could be the answer.  I figured if I could tire Chloe out before it was time for bed, then she would sleep through the whole night.  I began to extend my walks with Chloe, which did tire her out more and lessened the frequency I was woken up in the middle of the night to maybe every second night.  The one thing I wanted to do but wasn’t confident in doing yet, was letting Chloe off her leash and having a play, rather than just have her walk at a speed that was limited by my own.  I wanted to do this at the oval where there may be other people and dogs nearby so sought her owners’ advice before doing so.  They said I could try but to just be weary because Chloe had not spent much time off her leash around strangers and other animals.

The first time I planned to take Chloe off her leash at the local oval I made sure we were a good distance from the road, other dogs and people.  There was in fact only another person on that oval with their dog that day and I ensured we stayed as far as we possibly could from them.  I sat by Chloe to calm her down then slowly unhooked her leash from her collar.  Aware that she had been released from her leash Chloe attempted to leap up but instead I held her by my side and told her to stay.  After a little while of patting her while she was off her leash and I was satisfied she was calm I released her and Chloe happily but hesitantly took to her newfound freedom, prancing around me and sniffing the grass.  As the other dog on the other side of the oval moved around the oval with their owner, I did too with Chloe, calling Chloe to come back closer to me if I wasn’t comfortable with the distance between us.

After a few laps of the oval, Chloe had been off the leash for as long as I was comfortably handling for her first time and I re-attached it to her collar and continued the usual route.  Chloe did not seem that much more tired than usual from her walk but she did seem more content.  I was feeling encouraged by this new ground we had covered that evening and it made me determined to take it a step further.

Continue "Chloe Part 3">>


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