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Hey, poodle friends. You may recall we were getting ready to take an anniversary camping trip (an annual event we had to cancel last year due to covid). Well, we splurged and swapped our campsite reservation for a cabin at a beautiful lakeside resort. This, we figured, would be a good first travel experience for Peggy, as we’d have our own space but still have easy access to the outdoors.

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The first half-hour or so was great. We checked out the cabin, which ended up being a) attached to another cabin and b) right next to the main lodge, with nearly non-stop comings and goings. Kids, couples, dogs, maintenance staff (with all manner of equipment), even a wedding party. It was an endless parade of noise and activity outside all four windows.

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We played out front for a while with no issue. Peggy took in the sights and sounds, but was happy to focus on a stick or a treat. She ignored the lady on the porch with the ukulele. She showed only passing interest in a cluster of kids. She was loose and playful. She settled between us while we ate an early dinner. Hooray! Off to a great start.

Then we started to unpack.

And it began.

As far as I can tell, Peggy thought we were under siege. Every jingle, thump, laugh, or shriek elicited a low rumble. The place had zero soundproofing. In addition to the outdoor noise, we could hear everything on the other side of our shared wall. Peggy was born on a farm. We live in a house on a quarter acre. She has never experienced a shared space before and quickly went from alerting to breaking down completely. At one point someone was even on our roof, clearing off moss while their ladder rattled precariously outside the window. Peggy tried so hard to settle. But she couldn’t.

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She couldn’t relax in her crate. Couldn’t relax at all. We closed the windows, closed the blinds. Nothing helped. Without any of her usual naps, her brain quickly turned to scrambled eggs. Now she was lunging at anyone and anything when we tried to take her for a pee break. She was so far over threshold, we couldn’t let her meet anyone. So the leash got tighter, the tension ratcheted up, and her fearfulness and frustration built. It was, I am not exaggerating, the absolute worst case scenario for a first trip. So bad, in fact, I never even imagined it could be so bad.

We left after 24 hours. Just threw away all that money.

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Maybe we expected too much. Maybe my travel experiences with small, senior Gracie left me ill-prepared for travelling with a young spoo. Maybe Peggy will never be able to travel. Maybe we should have stuck it out longer. Maybe, maybe, maybe...

The only silver lining was that she settled fine in her crate overnight, once things settled down outside. We just used the same cues we use every night at home, and she trotted in and flopped down like all was normal. That was a relief, knowing that we hadn’t poisoned the crate she loves so much. But as soon as I woke up at 5am, she was right back on guard.

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I shouldn’t be surprised that the fiercely protective, tightly wound puppy we committed our lives to is maturing into a fiercely protective, tightly wound adult. But I can be disappointed that the life we envisioned with her might be out of reach. Maybe she’ll have to be a home poodle, exploring only our immediate area. Or maybe we’ll have to get an RV and travel fully contained. Maybe her spay surgery at the end of the month will take the edge off. I don’t know. For now, we’re letting her decompress while we do the same.

Here she was yesterday, rock hunting under a glorious sky:

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I’ve gotta say, even 14 year old Diego wouldn’t have handled that situation well. Ukulele stranger on the porch, thin shared walls, people on the roof? Honestly I wouldn’t have been able to relax either! It just sounds like a bad situation all around.
 

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Aww, poor Peggy and poor you. I'm glad she has an owner who is respectful of her needs.
Today I am feeling so much compassion for dog owners who are forced to move from single-family homes. If we were trapped in that cabin long-term—the way some people find themselves trapped in an apartment with an ill-suited dog—oh my God. I can’t even imagine.

She slept for two hours after we got home, then 12 hours overnight, before pretty much going straight back to sleep for the day.

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I'm so sorry! That sounds awful. Misha also has trouble settling in new places and I'm sure he'd never have been able to settle with so much activity, and he lives in an apartment complex. It sucks that they didn't have any nice secluded cabins away from all the activity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I’ve gotta say, even 14 year old Diego wouldn’t have handled that situation well. Ukulele stranger on the porch, thin shared walls, people on the roof? Honestly I wouldn’t have been able to relax either! It just sounds like a bad situation all around.
This is a good reminder. We did hear a couple of dogs barking in their cabins, but the ones we saw outside were all so chill. It can create unrealistic expectations when the only dogs you see in public spaces are the ones that can cope.
 

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I'm so sorry! That sounds awful. Misha also has trouble settling in new places and I'm sure he'd never have been able to settle with so much activity, and he lives in an apartment complex. It sucks that they didn't have any nice secluded cabins away from all the activity.
This will be my goal now, to find a truly remote spot for us. Maybe an Airbnb on the coast.

Before we finally decided to cut the trip short, my husband did try taking her to a beautiful, secluded meadow with absolutely no one around. But at that point her brain was too scrambled. Even as he fell asleep in the grass, she kept barking at nothing.

Then, as we were packing up the car to leave, she was literally sprawled out on the hot pavement. Just drifting in and out of sleep like she was delirious, waking up to growl and then passing out again.

Is Misha doing better in your apartment now?
 

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If it helps any my first away trip with Jax he started off very anxious (even all night diarrhea) and was easily startled but after the first full day he settled in and slept great the second night. I had serious thoughts of heading home too. I know that I have changed how I travel quite a bit since Jax but I can’t say I find it any less enjoyable. I definitely think finding somewhere quieter and more secluded would be a good idea.
 

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If it helps any my first away trip with Jax he started off very anxious (even all night diarrhea) and was easily startled but after the first full day he settled in and slept great the second night. I had serious thoughts of heading home too. I know that I have changed how I travel quite a bit since Jax but I can’t say I find it any less enjoyable. I definitely think finding somewhere quieter and more secluded would be a good idea.
Oh gosh yeah. I had that same all-night diarrhea experience with Gracie the first time I took her away. Completely forgot about that. I think it’s just so much easier to deal with it all when they’re small like she was. With Peggy I’m always afraid she’s going to scare someone. Gracie would get reactive sometimes, but it was just a yappy little bark. Peggy’s is a rumbly growl that practically erupts into deep woofs. Nerve-jangling, especially when paired with lunging.

Thanks for reminding me that adapting doesn’t have to mean settling. There’s still fun to be had.
 

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Talk to agility folks about how they teach their dogs to travel and put up with hotel noise. I am convinced that this can be trained -- not that I speak from experience, rather I say this with all the confidence and wisdom of the couch critic.

Also, I just finished Hunger's book, and I'm really curious now if I've completely underestimated Mia's attachment to objects, whether furniture, her stuff, my stuff, or all the sundry crap items that fill our house. She seemed to hardly blink an eye when I swapped couches last year, but Stella's reaction when they moved makes me wonder if losing the familiarity of home is harder on them than I realize.
 

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Ah! I can imagine how you might feel when expectations didn't match reality. But, that's a beautiful picture that you captured!!

There's a dude on the other side of our apt complex with a big German Shepard that has a deep barks non stop. Lol it's stupid. Luckily we don't hear it at night. Welcome to Seattle!

I would love to get out of the city noise and light pollution with Basil.... Our sweet spot would be between Snoqualmie pass and Cle Elum.
 

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Ooof. That sounds truly awful, especially after a year of COVID- quietness. Forget about my dog- I think I would have been growling in my sleep.

I have travelled and camped and stayed over in new places with Annie a lot and Annie would have crashed and burned in that situation too, I suspect. Trixie would have lost her mind. Both of them have lived in an apartment. Sounds like a terrible place for a mini vacation. White noise and treat scatter games/hand feeding help too.

Our last camping trip ended up being a backcountry campsite right by the junction between a busy hiking trail and a trail down to the water with people continually walking past. It was a challenge to deal with her alert barking (which escalated to growling as people kept approaching every few minutes) because the trail made it look like they were walking right at us with no leaves on the trees to provide privacy. Luckily they were pretty quiet and a nap in the tent helped but the constant approach of people was wearing. And there were no wedding parties or ukeleles!

One thing I found helpful on on that trip was putting her in 'her' car for a while and driving for a bit. Annie also has her own headlamp - she is afraid of the dark and movement in the shadows, so letting her be able to see helps a lot.

I keep reminding myself - as I watch someone out the window casually strolling with a dog Annie's age.... Slowly wandering down the street, not double timing it as their dog looks at them like 'hey, slowpoke, are you coming?' Or the labs across the street who are never walked and yet somehow behave well and never leave the unfenced property- I don't have a lab. I don't have an X breed. I have Annie - a hilarious high energy standard poodle who forces me to get outside and get MOVING, challenges me to use my brain every day, and I wouldnt trade her for anything - even a dog I can take for a slow stroll down the street only once or twice a week, who wouldn't dream of yodelling at squirrels.
 

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I take absolutely NO credit for Meisha's disposition, but I see how enormously lucky I am with her. She goes everywhere, flies (in airplanes), stays in noisy hotels, rides in the car, or a bus or a shuttle or a ferry. She isn't shy of noises or bumps and will alert me to strangers she is suspicious about but settles when I reassure her.

On the other hand, I despair of curing her separation anxiety. She howls piteously and loudly staying at home, staying in the car, staying with anyone else. My previous dogs, two labs and a terrier mix, would just hear me say, "You be good, I'll be back," and curl up and go to sleep.

Poodles are definitely a breed apart.

Does Peggy have a trusted someone she can stay with so you and your husband could get a weekend away? Or would that not appeal to you?
 

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How disappointing. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable in that noisy situation myself.

Perhaps you can desensitize her to some of this? Maybe with a more quiet location she can settle in and be comfortable. Did you try camping out in your backyard?
 
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Sorry to hear it went so disappointingly. I wonder if you might eventually be able to work up to traveling more gradually if you can find a place with less action where it feels more like just you and her. I'm nervous about how Oona will handle an upcoming 3 night stay with just me in a cabin. I think it will be quiet-ish (near a main house inhabited by the owner and a dog, but no shared walls), but I'm sure it will be unsettling to be somewhere new when she's only ever been at our house.

I remember dog sitting once for my family's beardie in my undergrad university apartment. He was a homebody who had already been uprooted for the year when my parents were temporarily living in a different province, which along with some hormonal issues, had made him quite anxious. When he came to stay with me for a night, he was so freaked out by the sounds in the neighboring units that he scratched and chewed a chunk out of the apartment door. This was an adult dog who had not been destructive, not even really as a puppy. So I guess it could be worse?

All of this is so hard and made even harder by COVID. If things were "normal" Oona would have visited and stayed over with my in-laws by now, and possibly visited and maybe napped inside other friends' homes. Same kind of thing for Peggy, I assume. Maybe those kind of things can be steps for Peggy once the social restrictions are more relaxed.
 

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After more than a year of COVID quiet, I'd have been right there with Peggy.

Smaller steps and quieter places may get her there yet.
 

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This will be my goal now, to find a truly remote spot for us. Maybe an Airbnb on the coast.

Before we finally decided to cut the trip short, my husband did try taking her to a beautiful, secluded meadow with absolutely no one around. But at that point her brain was too scrambled. Even as he fell asleep in the grass, she kept barking at nothing.

Then, as we were packing up the car to leave, she was literally sprawled out on the hot pavement. Just drifting in and out of sleep like she was delirious, waking up to growl and then passing out again.

Is Misha doing better in your apartment now?
Oh yeah he's totally fine in the apartment. I just meant that even a dog used to all the noises of apartments would still find it hard to settle in a new place with so much going on. Misha's not suspicious at all, thankfully, so he's fine with the neighbors banging and crying all the time. He grew up in a cramped suburb area so he wasn't totally new to apartment type distractions.
 

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Sorry your vacation turned out to be so disappointing. One thing that occurs to me is that upon arrival, Peggy was fine with strangers and noise.

This ended when you and your husband "staked out territory" in an enclosed room. Dogs are fiercely territorial too, and your space is their space. Once the door was closed, she shifted from the out in the open world which belongs to everyone mentality, to I gotta protect my humans! world with OMG, threats are everywhere! Even on the roof! We're under attack!

I don't know how this observation could be helpful, but it makes me wonder if she'd do better on a camping or fishing trip in a tent in the outdoors.
 

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I'm sorry things didn't work out. Given the challenges presented tho, I think you made the right decision to leave early.

Our boys travel pretty well on the road but we've learned to ask for the end room in a shared wall environment and in other places where it's possible, separate cabins from the main hubbub for those same reasons you wrote of - except the ukelele. That would definitely not have flown with any of my boys :).

We did the RV thing some years back with our girls. Finding a rental that accepts pets wasn't easy. That may be better now. You do have to plan carefully for your evening stops since most don't allow towing either. Once you're there, you're there. This will sound odd, but I really enjoyed the trip much more in hindsight than at the time. Being able to tow a vehicle would have made a big difference some nights.

We drove from the KC area to Denver, left our car at a family members and drove the RV around CO for a few days.


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Oh yeah he's totally fine in the apartment. I just meant that even a dog used to all the noises of apartments would still find it hard to settle in a new place with so much going on. Misha's not suspicious at all, thankfully, so he's fine with the neighbors banging and crying all the time. He grew up in a cramped suburb area so he wasn't totally new to apartment type distractions.
That’s good to hear. I seem to recall he was having some separation anxiety or similar after your move.

Wish Peggy could see the world for a moment through Misha’s eyes. The only real noise she’s had to get accustomed to on a daily basis is the thump of the sump pump. Amazingly, she knew from day 1 it was no big deal. But if she heard the same noise anywhere else, she’d sound the alarm.
 
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