Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Add Puppy. Stir.

Charlie, the hell terrier, has been just the ingredient of chaos my household needed to send us spiraling out of control early into the school year.  Last night the kids got to bed close to 9:30 not because they were super procrastinaty (which they were), but because Charlie kept stealing my son's socks, which led to a giant game of chase.  Every time I'd wrestle the sock away, my son would "accidentally" drop it near the dog again. My daughter, always looking for a distraction from homework, will pick Charlie up and start swaying her, singing "Oh puppy, puppy, puppy." Yes, she's still friggin' adorable (and resting in a ball in my lap, so never fear, dear reader).  Yes, we intend to keep her and train her and we'll all adjust in due time.  Right?

Part of the problem is us, and by us I mean my husband and myself.  In an effort to get some bloody sleep at night, we made a cardinal error.  We invited the little bugger into our bed.  This was a terrible decision.

We initially wanted to crate train her to sleep through the night, but here's what happened with that:
  1. She whimpered.
  2. She cried.
  3. She screeched.
  4. She howled.
  5. She peed.
She hated her crate.  Hated.  It.  Dogs are supposed have a den instinct, but I suspect Charlie's former owners - the lovely ones who dumped her on the side of I64 at rush hour - may have abused the crate, putting her in for long periods without a break.  We just wanted some sleep.  That's all.  (Side note: our five-year-old still comes to our bed and on occasion, so does our eight-year-old.  A crib.  A crate.  It's all the same to old softy-pants over here.  Cries mean torture and that's not happening in our house.  Yes, I see the error in this logic.) The problem was that Charlie would wake up, one of us would take her out, then she'd come back to bed ready to play and bite our faces.  We were/are utterly sleep deprived.  Not a good situation for the chronically ADD.

According to my ADD bibles - You Mean I'm Not Crazy, Lazy and Stupid and the website ADDitude, sleep disturbances can really mess with one's ADD.  Just yesterday in one of the classes I teach, I called Amelia, who I normally call "Alicia," "Maria." I was so tired I couldn't even get the wrong name right! 

Here's the four most common sleep disturbances that ADDitude associates with ADD/ADHD:

1. Initiation Insomnia - That's going to sleep, in other words.  Puppy makes me anxious about rolling over on her, biting me or attacking my underwear under the covers, therefore, I don't fall asleep easily.  Also known as "resentment insomnia."

2. Restless Sleep - Puppy's presence in bed does not allow me to ever get comfortable as I sleep defensively with blanket around head.  And face.  I know puppy will wake up needing to pee, or having already peed on the comforter.  I sleep with one eye open.
3. Difficulty Waking- Not a problem as I never actually sleep.
4. Intrusive Sleep - Puppy is everywhere: in my face, on my back, licking my arms, chewing my hair.  I will never touch my husband again.

But . . . when my husband picked up the pooch the other night, holding her above his head and yelled profanities at her - frustration born from three weeks of little to no sleep - I knew I needed to step up.

Thanks to my friend First Laura, I discovered this awesome puppy training site: The House Breaking Bible.  I read over it twice and found great tips on crate acclimation.  So, when my husband got home late last night, he found the kids and me playing Headbanz while Charlie looked on from her crate.

"I'm taking over," I told him.

"I'm glad someone is."

So, last night I slept in the basement guest room with puppy in her crate.  My big girl Lucy joined us in the adjoining room.  Once I covered up the crate with a blanket, guess what?  That girl was QUIET!! Yes, I still needed to get up and take her outside to pee 3 times (I even set my alarm, but she beat me to the punch each time -- I reset the times so I can beat her to it tonight.  The goal is to get her out before she whimpers so she'll go back to sleep easier.), but it was big vats of improvement over the night and weeks before.  Instead of the hour of settle down time it used to take after a pee break, Charlie settled into her blanket-covered crate, whimper until she heard me say QUIET four or five times and sleep.  I actually got sleep last night!  It was crazy, interrupted sleep, but it wasn't the kind of sleeping-with-one-eye-open-for-fear-of-being-chewed-on sleep I had started to get used to!

What do I win?  I'll share my trophy with First Laura and my Facebook friends who fled to my rescue yesterday with advice and names of accredited trainers.  You guys rock!