the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Outside the Box

Chuck has slept in a locked crate since the second night of his life in our family. Crate training was something we had read and heard about, and after a single night of having him sleep on a blanket next to the bed, a night of living hell wherein we’d wake repeatedly to the sound of him pooping and having a joyful wee in various corners of the bedroom, we knew that there was no other way to go about training our little beast, aside from perhaps incessant freakish screaming in a Southern accent which has worked gloriously on occasion.

We call his crate The Box, and for the last 300 nights or so he has slept in The Box, albeit frequently unwillingly. Sometimes when it’s time to go into The Box he’ll pout or hide behind behind my legs, his nose and ears peeking through the space between my knees. But Jon and I are both confident that The Box is the best thing that has ever happened to our dog, so much so that we’re always quick to tell parents of a screaming toddler or whiny baby, stick the damn thing in a box!

But recently I’ve been bugging Jon to let Chuck sleep outside of The Box if only because he seems mature enough to handle the responsibility. I mean, Chuck is almost a year old, and he already knows his multiplication tables. How hard could it be for him to sleep in the little fleece puppy bed in the corner of the room? Not hard, I know, but you underestimate the tenacity and overall bull-headedness of the one I call Husband. He’ll say, “No way,” and “Nuh-huh,” and “Blah blah, we need to be united on this, blah blah,” something a conscientious yet wholly stubborn parent would say, whatever. He totally doesn’t understand, and I’m totally rolling my eyes when I say that.

So a few nights ago in the middle of the night I heard a terrible sound coming from The Box. It’s a sound so distinct and bone-chilling that you know what it is before the end of the first bellowing syllable. And that sound was the centipede-like contortion of Chuck’s abdomen as he regurgitated half of his dinner, moving from his hind-quarters up through his belly, wriggling up his puppy esophagus and out of his snout in a gigantic burst of moaning, gritty bile.

So I quickly cleaned it up and somehow convinced a sleepy unsuspecting Husband to let Chuck sleep outside of The Box for the rest of the night. And let me tell you, I was almost so excited I couldn’t get back to sleep. It was like the first slumber party with my dog ever!

Except he didn’t sleep in the little fleece puppy bed in the corner of the room. And he didn’t sleep on a blanket beside the bed. No, my 45 pound SuperMut slept in the bed on top of my body. Sometimes he was on my legs, other times he was stretched out prostrate across my torso. For the majority of the night he stole the covers and occupied my entire half of the bed, twitching and snoring like a bloated Fred Flintstone in a wife beater. I’m certain he had a dream wherein he chased a rabbit through the woods, finally catching it and ripping off its bloody head with the swift jerk of his entire spasmodic body. I woke in the morning with his tail up my nose.

I think it’s safe to say that I will never again question Husband’s judgment. That SuperMut motherfucker is going back in The Box.

  • Bast Herself

    2003/02/11 at 12:31 pm

    Now you’ve gone and done it. Oh boy. Better hope he gets used to the box again. Good luck with that.

  • Craig

    2003/02/11 at 12:32 pm

    Dog’s are the most inconsiderate bed sharer’s on earth. My black lab does all these weird contortions including a strange position where she rolls over and puts all four paws in the air. In the process of rolling into this position, she is able to steal almost all the covers. Keep the box.

  • dclay

    2003/02/11 at 12:33 pm

    I just finished the 2nd of two dog sitting stints. 21 days of dog sitting: 19 in the cage, 2 out. The only times the dogs puked, pissed, or shit in the house they were sleeping in my bedroom, outside the cage… Viva la box!

  • Paul Gutman

    2003/02/11 at 12:34 pm

    I can barely sleep in my bed with someone else (and as I recall, neither do you, Miss Heat), but I can’t imagine a potentially-vomitous canine there as well. I wouldn’t sleep at all.

  • shauna

    2003/02/11 at 12:35 pm

    well i’m disappointed by the first/last doggie sleepover. no pillow fights? no braiding each others hair?

    i can’t believe he’s almost a year old, time flies 🙂

    my dumb hound harry used to like to sleep in the bed too. except he’d burrow his way down under the covers until he was at the very end of the bed. i don’t know how he breathed beneath three blankets and a quilt, so i’d ask “are you okay down there?” now and then… i’d hear a muffled ‘thump thump’ of a wagging tail on the bed 🙂

  • dooce

    2003/02/11 at 12:38 pm

    shauna: that is the cutest thing i’ve ever heard.

  • ryan

    2003/02/11 at 12:40 pm

    You’d better hope Chuck doesn’t take this episode to mean that throwing up in ‘The Box’ wins him the bonus prize (sleeping in the bed with mom) o_O

  • Chris

    2003/02/11 at 12:41 pm

    I wish mine would do the box. Oddly enough, she has been bed-trained basically forever, but in the last week, she’s developed a strange fear of the bed.

    She’ll play on the bed during the day, but come bedtime, she freaks out, and sits by my bedroom door, eventually retiring to sleep in the bathroom.

    Some mornings, I’ll wake up, and she’ll be back in the bed, other mornings, she’ll be sleeping peacefully in the bathroom.

    Really weird. Maybe she sees dead people?

  • Filter

    2003/02/11 at 12:45 pm

    Chris: Maybe she is waiting for you to sleep so she can drink the coveted toilet water without you knowing.

  • Greg

    2003/02/11 at 12:59 pm

    He slept on top of you? He must have been dog tired.

  • windowsill wendy

    2003/02/11 at 1:02 pm

    my 50+ pound basset hound loves to sleep in the bed too. only she has to sleep on top of me. when fully stretched out, she’s almost as big as i am.

    she also serves as an excellent alarm clock – preferring the lick-mommy’s-face-until-she-wakes-up method.

    we tried teaching her to sleep on the floor, but then she’d look at us like this:

  • peggy

    2003/02/11 at 1:02 pm

    We started Cody in the box, but gave in like big wimps. Now he sleeps between us, groaning like an old man when one of us shifts. He farts, too. We made this bed, so now we have to lie in it (holding our noses).

  • tourette's boy

    2003/02/11 at 1:04 pm

    fuck, dooce. that fukkin mutt motherfukker. damn cute, pic, though. fukk.

  • Beerzie Boy

    2003/02/11 at 1:15 pm

    He’ll be ruint ferever if ya let him sleep with ya. Stik to sleepin with yer cuzzins.

  • Xanthan

    2003/02/11 at 1:23 pm

    So, up until half way through this thing I was thinking, “Dooce, don’t be a fool – listen to the Husband. He’s right on this one…” – particularly when you started rolling your eyes! Of course, I was rewarded for my patience with another lovely Dooce-ism: “snoring like a bloated Fred Flinstone”

    This experience will serve you well, when your own Blurbodoociens do the same thing (I’m not going to touch whether or not you should crate train your kids!). When the wife was sick a couple of weeks ago, I slept in the guest bedroom only to be joined at 2AM in the morning by our eldest, age five. He’d had a bad dream and wanted to sleep with me. No problem… how could I refuse such a request from my adorable son? At 3AM, I woke up on my tummy with him laying prostate across my back. At 4:30AM, I was on my side with him curled up on top of me like a cat on a ledge. At 5:30AM, my son was chasing rabbits in his sleep…

    Until that night, I really missed our fourteen year old Russian Wolfhounds who passed away last year. At least my son doesn’t shed fur (or poop in the backyard…. anymore).

  • zchamu

    2003/02/11 at 1:28 pm

    Our 5 month old beagle still sleeps in the box too. Except last night, when he woke up every 20 motherfucking minutes to whine. Thinking he had to pee, I’d open the door of the crate and invite him out. But the little bastard didn’t have to pee. He just wanted the door open. So I crawl back into bed. I’m just about falling asleep when I hear him roaming around the room just LOOKING for things to crap on.


  • JC

    2003/02/11 at 1:34 pm

    you must be strong. he’ll try the puking/whining/whatever shtick until he’s confident it will never again work. my roommate was not strong, and we eventually had to kick him and his untrained dog out of our house.

  • Lynnette

    2003/02/11 at 1:47 pm

    But what about a compromise?! Let the poor guy sleep on his doggie bed. My pooch is almost 1 year old, too, and he sleeps quite peacefully on his bed NEXT to our bed. Works like a charm.

  • antisocial diva

    2003/02/11 at 1:50 pm

    all my pets sleep with us. imagine two people (one in her fatter days), two beagles, and two cats on a queen. but there really isn’t anything like that. i adore sharing my bed with them, and not in a michael jackson kind of way.

  • sourbob

    2003/02/11 at 1:52 pm

    My wife and I used to have an 85 pound grayhound who we didn’t have the sense to crate train and so he slept in the bed with us as often as he could manage. It was a nightmare of bony limbs, bad breath, and pinning down the covers.

    The dog was a total pain in the ass, too.

  • Rex

    2003/02/11 at 1:53 pm

    We call our crate the box too, but we’ve been slowly working our 11 month old dog out of the box – it was hard the first few nights, because he barked at anybody who walked by our house, but now he sleeps on his bed through the night. The best thing about a box-less dog is that he doesn’t whine in the morning to get out of the box. He keeps his cool at least an hour longer than he used to before demanding some thumbs to open the door.

    The dog walker even leaves him out of his box after his walk until we come home from work. I hope you can trust your dog soon, too.

  • Garth Milo

    2003/02/11 at 1:55 pm

    Hi this is Garth Milo, I am three year old Black Lab. I love to sleep with mom and dad. I steal the covers, lay on top of them. I am 90 pounds but hey they love me. Riding in moms lap in the explorer is getting out hand though. Woof.

  • Alex

    2003/02/11 at 2:03 pm

    Beware of the Vomit. Fear the Vomit. Critters will use the Vomit to their advantage.

    Just the other day, the little idiots were meowing for another can of wet food, even though there was perfectly good bowl of dry there. But the husband wasn’t giving in.

    So what did they do? They set up a Vomit booby trap just for shits and giggles.

    Just as Chris was walking from the living room to the kitchen *BAM* slipped on little idiot vomit, banged up his knee and had it all over his hands….

    The vomit is evil and the little idiots will chuckle!

  • Thug

    2003/02/11 at 2:18 pm

    Try 2 rottweilers and a cat. We never need heat in the bedroom. Our dogs start out in the crate, and graduate to the floor about a year old, generally. When Mack nearly died a few years ago after emergency surgery, I started letting them sleep on the bed – my wife was out of town for a month anyway, so I didn’t give a shit if they took a lot of room. I work out of town all week now, and Mack travels with me. Sasha (who is actually a rott – pit mix, looks like a pit with rott colors only twice the size) and the evil feline stay home. Sasha also goes out and protects her cat from the other neighborhood cats. Mack wants to just play with them, and they all hate that. Rotts all have bad gas and snore like old drunks, too.

  • jimmypage

    2003/02/11 at 2:18 pm

    the fucker that posted the idiotic garth milo shit should be executed.

    at the very least, he or she should take a trip to iraq for human shield-duty.

  • lee

    2003/02/11 at 2:24 pm

    But he’s so cute when he sleeps out of the box. In pictures, anyway.

  • p

    2003/02/11 at 2:26 pm

    “joyful wee.” I am going to remember that for a long time.
    Give Chuck another shot. I think you can learn to love having him cuddle with you. And if he’s anything like my dog, he’ll be the one who eventually tires of fighting you for space and moves to his doggy bed.

  • Sheila

    2003/02/11 at 2:32 pm

    Bad dog, Garth, bad dog.

  • rosebaby

    2003/02/11 at 2:37 pm

    i know i know! the first three nights were the box. now, it’s the bed. along with 3 cats. Buck decided to barf on the bed at 4am the other night. i didn’t have the heart to box him, although he does the box pretty well in general. he’s a good bed sleeper as a pup. and he’s too chicken to jump down off the bed. that’s when the box comes back…

  • LA Resident

    2003/02/11 at 2:53 pm

    I love how your dog stories get so many good comments.

    Our dogs are 11 years old now, and early on we put a little effort into teaching them to ask before getting on the bed. We also taught them to get down when the fingers are snapped. This is a really wonderful thing. You can cuddle with lovable canines for a little while, and when things get out of hand you just snap your fingers and they head off to their own beds. Magic! We now only use the crate when we travel, and only because they are much less stressed when they know their space. But I do like that crate.

  • Brandi

    2003/02/11 at 3:11 pm

    My boyfriend and I have a mininature Dashchund named Pico. When we got him we decided he sleep in a box by our bed. Everyone said I’d be the first to let him sleep in the bed. The first night went well I ended up sleeping with my hand in the box with the pup sleeping on my hand, second night he whined some but slept most of the night. The third nothing could get to be quiet I was up for hours trying to quiet him and then my boyfriend offered to try something and let me sleep. I fell asleep and woke up with a puppy nose in my face. Now he sleeps with us everynight, his favorite place is on mommy’s knees so she can’t move at all. Yet it’s too hard not to love him, a sweetheart like this…

  • heather

    2003/02/11 at 3:23 pm

    though small in stature, tigger snores like a motherfucker. and chieka, well, she’s got a nasty habit of sticking her cold wet noses in dark pink places that would be better left alone. that being said, the pups sleep in a crate.

    the number two question (after “are they rats?”) is “do they sleep with you?” which i find rather personal and never really know how to respond to. any suggestions for a snappy comeback would be greatly appreciated.

  • rhapsodie

    2003/02/11 at 3:32 pm

    we started crate training our 10 pound mini schanuzer the evening we came home from work to find she had tore up the entire bathroom linoleum from the floor and distributed its teenie chunks into all corners of the apartment. she has since learned to accept The Kennel: when i get dressed for work in the morning, she puts herself in it. we do let her in the bed with us at night. she too steals the covers – i guess size doesnt really matter.

  • billy

    2003/02/11 at 3:38 pm

    until about a month ago, we had THREE dogs sleeping on the bed with us. two boxers and a lab/dobermab mix. 210 pounds of dog. the ONLY way to get any covers at all is to have two of them under the covers.

  • the mighty jimbo

    2003/02/11 at 3:53 pm

    i once let the our neopolitan mastiff sleep in my bed when he was a wee little one – way before he grew into the 125 pound drool machine. he whined and whined all night until i finally capitulated and put him into bed with me.

    when i woke up the next morning in a puddle of puppy piss he was banished back to the box for the rest of his life.

  • Desiree

    2003/02/11 at 3:58 pm

    For 2 years I tortured some of my best friends for crate training, until the day I brought home my own loveable shepherd-mix/mutt Luna (who at 5 weeks could barely see (eyes still grayish), was incontinent and had giardia – nice visuals, right?). It took one night of her sleeping in my kitchen and getting out of the kitchen in the middle of the night (imagine piss & shit everywhere) for me to run to the dog trainer in tears the next day begging to help me get the right crate & accessories and swore to chant the following three words religiously: “Crate traning works.”
    We crate trained during workdays for almost 2 years (w/me going home at lunch everyday to take her out for her “duties”), but after one year or so, Luna generally slept out of the crate at night (on our bed of course – all 75 lbs. stretched out diagonally with her paws in my face). We got rid of the crate to recapture some living space in our condo, and dog learned to sleep on dog bed after child was born and insisted on family bed. Now Luna’s favorite den-like envorinments are either under the dining room table or in the bathroom [*sound familiar Chris?].
    As far as nighttime bile producing gurgling sounds, Pepto works wonders for puppy’s acid tummy.

  • Malisa

    2003/02/11 at 4:45 pm

    I used to have an 11 year old, 60 lbs english bulldog. Sweet dog who insisted on sleeping in my room. She snored, she talked in her sleep, and she was a stinky farter. I was lucky though, her legs were only four inches long and there was no way she could get on the bed. It was always entertaining to see her sneak onto the couch though.

  • Registered Trademark

    2003/02/11 at 4:47 pm

    Maggie, one of our dogs sleeps soundly on the floor next to me all night long, occasionally waking up to check that I am still there.

    Myshka, our crazy Border Collie, sleeps under the bed. We have a raised futon of sorts, so she can wiggle under the bed with some effort. She can only lie on her side, whichever side she slid under there on.

    Like Shauna, we wonder just how she copes, and ask her occasionally, to be answered with the tail thumping between the bottom of the bed and the floor. It’s sooooo cute.

  • bucci

    2003/02/11 at 5:40 pm

    My dear dead max would sleep in his ‘hooch hut’, but with the door wide open. It was his favorite spot; maybe because of the heater pad in the winter?

  • tracy

    2003/02/11 at 5:49 pm

    I have to admit this is why I have cats. At worst, I only have to deal with 16 pounds of animal. (Fat kitty: the skinny kitty only does beds when the fat kitty is elsewhere.) Plus I’m too much of a softie to make a puppy sleep in a box.

    Well, that and the whole self cleaning thing.

  • Eddiewojo

    2003/02/11 at 5:58 pm

    You see, you have the wrong kind of dog. We have a 13lb mixed breed mostly norwich terrier that will whine at the side of the bed until one of us invites him up. At that point he will leap onto the foot of the bed and snuggle up between the wife and I and lay there until I finally throw down one of my pillows next to the bed for him to sleep on (which he will not use until half way through the night). I have tried throwing the pillow down when we go to bed but he will still whine until we let him up on the bed.

  • kindle

    2003/02/11 at 6:57 pm

    Our beagle is 11 years old, and still sleeps in a large cage. She will still poop and puke and do all sorts of naughty things in it. After spending a night in there we figure that’s punishment enough.

    But she loves seriously loves the cage. We used to throw a treat in there to get her to go in willingly, and after 11 years going into the cage can mean nothing else but getting a doggie treat. She whines to go to bed *early* now.

    We used to have a shetland sheep dog who was perfectly fine sleeping anywhere. But when he got older he started peeling off the wallpaper of the laundry room in the middle of the night.

  • the fool

    2003/02/11 at 7:29 pm

    our blu spent his first year in The Crate before we let him out, and we were strict as hell for a good year about his staying on the floor.

    after a while, tho, we’d let him on the bed. to warm up the wife’s side while she got ready. and he’s just so darn cute lying on the bed like a little wannabe human.

    but he, too, is really too large for a bed. and while we don’t have the heart to keep him off, we make sure he stays on the floor until we fall asleep. that way i can’t feel the loss of circulation in my legs from his hefty torso lying across them.

    damn spoiled dog.

  • frowning monkey

    2003/02/11 at 7:33 pm

    We have a 1 year old Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier who sleeps very happily next to our bed. We tried to crate train her (we always called it ‘lockdown’), but 4 solid nights of puppy screaming were enough to convince us to just tether her to the side of the bed. The lead we used was only long enough for her to turn around, and to lie down comfortably, but not long enough for her to sneak off for a quiet movement in the small hours of the night (unless she wanted to lie in it!).

    Now she just wanders around the room and chews up our underwear.

    She keeps off the bed if I’m there, because I fidget more than any animal ever born, and it bugs her.

  • The Inmate

    2003/02/11 at 7:34 pm

    He who lies with dogs…


    I was sure I was going somewhere with that.

  • Anna

    2003/02/11 at 8:10 pm

    My husband and I crate our dog when we leave the house, but not at night. For several months, we’ve refused to let her sleep on the bed but she’s recently snuck her way in through the persuasive power of her adorable puppy-ness. The first few nights it was rough and we didn’t sleep well, but we’ve all adjusted. We hardly notice she’s there anymore, and some mornings I wake up with her curled against my torso and her head under my chin (awwww).

    My point is it seems possible for a dog to adjust to bed-sharing. However, my dog is only five months old; I don’t know if it would be as easy for an older dog to learn. Maybe some foot pokes in the gut could give him the idea.

  • Tudy

    2003/02/11 at 8:29 pm

    That crate trainging is what I decided to do a long time ago. I have a 4 month old monster brat. THE LAD.. who if he isnt in his crate thinks that the top of my head is a good place to rest his balls…such as they are at this young age…but damn. I cant stand the thought of someday having big hairy ones laying on my face!! Another good reason for neutering.

  • The Inmate

    2003/02/11 at 9:03 pm

    I think you’re all far too optimistic on the topic of bed sharing.

    Canine psychology has pretty much proven that dogs see their human masters as part of their pack (wolf ancestry derivative).

    So, dogs sleeping with humans are likely to sleep in the same fashion they would with other dogs.

    Which, as anyone who has seen groups of dogs sleeping, means pretty much all over the place and all over each other.

    Don’t expect your pooch to sleep all civilized-like just because you do.

  • kath

    2003/02/11 at 11:30 pm

    My beloved Molly slept in a crate in our bedroom for several years. I quit latching it eventually — she was WAY over a year though — and she continued to sleep in the crate for several more years, voluntarily. When she got old and crotchety, she gradually moved out into the hall, down to the landing, and finally downstairs to the living room. Sometimes I slept down there with her…

  • zchamu

    2003/02/12 at 5:58 am

    Fucking karma. We let the attack beagle sleep on the bed last night so that we could get some respite from his incessant in the box whining.. and at 6 am, he puked on the bed.

    Does Chuck by chance have a weblog? I think he and the beagle are plotting.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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