So, for those of you who are curious about the bit of a challenge we are having with Ray … read on:
We have a bell on our backdoor, which Ray quite happily rings if he needs to go outside. It has worked extremely well, except just recently. His habit is to gently nudge the bell with his nose, knowing full well that one of us will soon be there to open the door for him.
He is a very creative dog at times, or perhaps he is just being very assertive, but neither of us will hear a bell that has been gently nudged by Ray’s nose at 2:00am. Ray soon grasped that, and so proceeded to really whack it! It worked. In fact he has been known to knock the bell off the door and across the kitchen floor! These early morning calls were however respected and he was let out into the back garden where he peed, but then never seemed to want to come back into the house.
We had a few incidents of this at different hours (although around 4:00am was becoming a routine) and, as Carol was not feeling so good (fighting off cold/flu symptoms), we agreed that we should remove the bell. This made perfect sense because Ray will wake me up if he needs to, so as long as my door is open, he does not need the bell. We had also heard him whimper just a little at one time, so we knew that we had a problem.
After the bell had been removed, and at around 4:00am, I heard clicking coming across the living room floor. He was obviously coming in my direction, so I waited for him. He knew I was awake so just stood staring at me. We had a bit of a one-sided conversation, but clearly I had to get up and let him out.
My routine would be to get dressed (-10C out there!), get the flashlight and check the garden for nocturnal activity before letting him out. He went out and wandered around the garden before he eventually peed … and then showed no desire to come back inside. He just stood still and stared at the fence!
This was repeated regularly until one night (morning?) when he chose to lay down in the snow in his typical chill out position. I left him there and about 30 minutes later, I heard him as he came up the wooden steps to the back door.
Just recently, he curled up in the snow. I had a good look at him and felt sorry for him because he looked scared. Of course that was my interpretation, but it did seem that something was happening in the house which frightened him.
We had lots of possibilities. Our neighbour goes to work at around 4:00am, so perhaps doors closing; car starting etc. were bothering him? That does not explain the earlier times though. He was noted, on one occasion, to be very alert while staring down the stairs to our basement.
We know that he is really disturbed by the “low battery” alarm on our smoke detectors, but we can clearly hear them as well, so they are not currently the problem.
Yesterday (Friday), we checked every watch, electronic device and clock for an active early morning alarm. We unplugged any devices/appliances in the basement that did not have to be active. So last night, I went to bed wondering. Would he now sleep through the night? Would he come and wake me up? Had we solved the problem?
Well I am hopeful, but not convinced just yet! This morning, he did not come in to see me until around 4:45am. I usually get up around 5:00am anyway, so I just followed my normal routine of getting up, having breakfast, and then going down into the basement. I would normally come back upstairs around 8:00am; let Ray out, and give him his breakfast but, around 7:15, I heard a whimper from upstairs.
There will be a bit more on Wednesday.