Barks of Desperation

Luna is the better-behaved of our two dogs.  It’s a close call, really, since both dogs can be a handful in public – Penny with her happy ‘let’s-get-moving’ bark, and Luna with her ‘I’m-still-a-puppy-and-like to-meet-new-people-by-jumping-on-them’ routine – so the deciding factor is their respective behavior when we leave the house*.   Penny, from when we adopted her, has exhibited signs of separation anxiety, the most apparent of them being frequent/sustained barking (when crated, which we do to avoid any other issues).  Luna, on the other hand, is allowed to roam free throughout the house, having earned our trust by not once – in five years – destroying a single shoe, chair leg, blanket, pillow, or anything else.  She’s quiet and low-key, and likes to sleep on the living-room couch within sight of Penny’s crate. 

Why is this intro important? Well, as we were travelling on our recent road trip to visit family in Arizona, we stopped for an overnight at a pet-friendly hotel on Coronado Island in San Diego, CA (more on the facility later).  D was really keen to take me to one of his favorite eateries - the Burger Lounge on Orange Ave (the main drag through Coronado) - which he visits every time he’s in San Diego for work.  While Coronado seems to be a nice ‘dog town,’ we weren’t certain that taking both our dogs with us to dinner would be the best (or most manageable) decision.  We debated this for a little while during the drive before even arriving in San Diego; taking both dogs with us might make enjoying a leisurely meal not-so-leisurely because of their public-behavior shortcomings, but taking Luna and leaving Penny alone in the room would possibly irritate the occupants of neighboring rooms (if she went into one of her barking fits).  Luna, with her amazing track record in hotels (maybe one or two barks in about two dozen nights that she’s been in hotels, always crated), was the obvious choice to remain behind. 

So after checking in at the front desk and getting all our essentials into the room, we cleaned ourselves up, prepped Penny for another outing, set up Luna’s crate and ushered her into it – along with a handful of treats.  We walked to the door, opened it, and then heard the most high-pitched, desperate bark barrage that Luna has ever unleashed.  It was heart-wrenching!  D and I looked at one another, both of us in agony at hearing such a sound emanating from Luna.  D sighed and dropped his head. “I’ll go get her. Take Penny down and we’ll meet you at the car.” 

What was going on in Luna’s head?  She must have felt like those dogs in movies/on TV – you know, the ones whose owners drive out into the country, then pretend to play fetch by throwing a stick out into a wheat field before driving off and leaving the dog behind.  My favorite portrayal of this is in the Looney Tunes’ “Often and Orphan” (1949) where, after being left behind, Charlie the dog tries to ‘sell’ himself to the farmer Porky Pig (“I’m 50% Pointer –There it is! There it is! – 50% Boxer, 50% Setter – Irish Setter – 50% Watch dog, 50% Spitz, 50% Doberman Pincher. But mostly, I’m all Labrador Retriever!”).  Think about it. Luna’s been in the car for 6-and-a-half hours, a somewhat uncomfortable venture, if we’re to infer anything from her constant panting.  She’s then taken into a completely unfamiliar structure, with its unfamiliar sounds, its unfamiliar smells, and its unfamiliar surroundings, then, with very little acclimation time, she’s put in her crate only to watch her people AND her little canine ‘sister’ walks out on her! I really think Luna believed she was being left behind… for good!