Our City Dog

My in-laws drove out from Texas with our dog, Aurora, in early October and she has slowly transitioned over the past month and a half to being a big city / tiny apartment pet. Before her arrival, we decided to designate part of the office to her use. We have a nook in the office, across from the bookshelves, where a soft crate fit perfectly. We ordered the large Dogit Deluxe Crate for her. It's collapsible, waterproof, comes with a storage case, and the sides, front and top flaps can be zipped open so she can see out at all times. She sleeps in it at night and whenever we're out running errands. It took a day of treats to get her comfortable with it, but now she'll go and lie in there for naps throughout the day (especially when the contractors working on the apartment upstairs are especially loud). Her food and water bowl, as well as treats and toys, are all in the office as well and it seems to have become a good refuge for her. 

Aurora in our living room (on the rug she destroyed the first and only time we left her out for four hours)

Everyone has different opinions on pets and kids, but we felt it was important for Aurora to have a space where she can escape the kiddo if need be. A few weeks ago we installed a child’s gate in the open doorway between the office and living room, so if in the future the baby is doing tummy time, or I need to do dishes while she’s in her sleep & play, I can close Aurora in the office and not have to worry about keeping my eyes on both of them. Also, once baby Fraase becomes mobile, we wanted Aurora to have a space to escape to where the baby won’t be allowed (no baby in office, no Aurora in nursery). We took a dog training class a week or so after Aurora came out here, and the trainer supported our beliefs. Again, everyone has different opinions on this, but that’s what we currently feel most comfortable with. 

Aurora playing "guard dog" in our apartment's front fenced-in area. 

Aside from prepping Aurora’s personal space, and prepping her for baby, getting her into a regular walking routine has also helped with the transition. When we lived in Austin, we had a large fenced-in backyard so most of Aurora’s exercise was running with our other dog, Sadie, around the yard. Now that we’re in a small apartment, and live in more of a walking neighborhood, we take Aurora on 2-4 30-60 minute long walks a day. We’re still working with her on leash aggression with other dogs and have been using treats as a way to encourage her to just ignore the other dogs as we’re walking. She has good days and bad days. 

Aurora people watching in the park

We’re also still working on her random barking fits. She’ll go all day without barking as the contractors go up and down the stairs outside our door, and then while I’m cooking dinner sometimes, she’ll hear a dog in another apartment and bark so loudly she’ll startle me and cause me to almost drop whatever I’m holding. On other days, she growls and barks at every single sound (and nonexistent sound). I’ve tried giving her treats when she stops barking or when she doesn’t bark at an outside sound. I’ve tried running the baby’s white noise machine all day (it seems to work best in the evenings). And we’ve tried to gently soothe her by repeating “It’s ok. You don’t need to bark.” Aurora has always been a barker unfortunately, it’s just far more annoying in a tiny apartment. At least the baby will learn how to sleep through anything, right? 

Aurora and I in Prospect Park

The first few weeks with Aurora here were pretty stressful, and at times I was nervous that bringing her out here wasn’t the right choice, but now I can’t imagine not having her here. Some days she is totally awful on the leash and tries to drag my 8 1/2 month pregnant body down the street, but every time she places her head in my lap or bounds up to us at the park after she’s tired herself out chasing squirrels, my heart swells. 

Keith and Aurora running on Long Beach, NY