Best Dog Crate Ever

Camping with Molly

Reading a blog post about how to get your dog ready for camping reminded me of the first time I habituated Molly to the idea of a tent.

I set up the tent indoors (it was still winter outside), Molly watching on and avoiding spring-loaded tent poles. She was only passively curious.

I wondered how she’d react to being confined inside the tent. Would she feel trapped in the small space? Would she be scared by the rustling noises of the tent fabric? Would she try to claw or gnaw her way out? Would she accidentally ruin the tent just by being her usual klutzy self? (She flunked canine agility.) Or would she stubbornly prefer the outdoor environment to the tent environment for reasons she wouldn’t care to communicate to me?

Whenever trying something new with a dog, I always review the worst-case scenarios. That way I’m rarely surprised by what happens and I’ve already considered ways to react to my dog’s reactions. It also makes me sound like a pessimist.

I finished setting up the tent and zipped open the door.

I tapped the floor inside the tent. “Molly, let’s go!”

Molly got up off the floor and sniffed around the tent door. Set a paw inside. Was mildly surprised by the crackle of the flooring material. Entered the tent. Walked a circle. Came back out again and smiled.

“Nice,” she said. Clearly because I was hoping for her approval. But the distant look in her eyes said, “So?”

I tapped the floor of the tent again. “C’mon, let’s go!”

Okay. She got in again. Walked another circle. Sniffed the corners. Her attitude still said, “And the point is?” Then, almost bored, she flopped down right in the middle of the tent and panted contentedly.

“Nice dog crate,” she said.

I smiled. My new tent had received Molly’s stamp of approval. Camping with my dog was going to work out just fine.

‘Cuz if Molly wasn’t going, I wasn’t going. That’s just the way Molly and I work. (And she knows it.)

During our subsequent camping trips, Molly has demonstrated that she thinks of our tent as a grand dog crate that she gets to share with her human. Best dog crate ever.

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