You can lead a dog to a bed...

...but you can't make her use it.

Maia, I'm talking about.

Maia snoozing on the heated concrete floor.

I realize that most big dogs prefer to sleep on hard surfaces. This has been true for both of my girls their entire lives. At our townhouse in Washington, there's little floor space that isn't carpeted. Yet Maia and Meadow will invariably snooze on the kitchen linoleum, the small bit of tile in front of the fireplace, or outside on the deck, completely avoiding the softer carpeting.

Here in the Idaho house, with in-floor radiant heat and concrete floors, the girls will often lay on one of several thin throw rugs I have. Not for the cushioning, but because the rug forms a barrier against the heat of the floor! (This isn't an issue in the summer months, when the heat is turned off and the floors remain nicely cool.)

Over the course of her life, Maia has had surgery to remove cysts on her elbows three times. A lump will appear, looking very much like a callous, then somehow get infected (usually, I suspect, after she's wrestled with Meadow in the yard), swell and cause fluid retention around the joint. At that point, surgical removal is the only option. They're not caused by sleeping on hard surfaces, but are likely exacerbated by doing so.

Unfortunately, after several years, a cyst returned on one elbow, necessitating a second round of surgery on that side in late 2008. Recently, I noticed that the other elbow is now working on a second lump which I'm hoping won't become infected as I really don't want to see Maia undergo yet another surgery at 12 1/2 years of age.

So, I ordered two dog beds, figuring the less pressure on her elbows, the better.

The first bed arrived a couple days ago. It's really a great bed, intended for easy travel (comes with its own stuff sack), completely washable (a requirement because Maia sometimes "floods") and just big enough. It's made by Canine Hardware and is very reasonably priced at $40. I ordered it through and it arrived two days later. 

I placed the bed next to the sliding glass door, because malamutes are always too hot when indoors and Maia especially likes having her back to a door. It's one her favorite spots in this house. Finn immediately liked the new bed - but then, he loves sleeping on soft surfaces. I kicked Finn off, then coaxed Maia onto it, but she stayed for only a few minutes.

Later, I came home to this scene:

Not quite the use I had in mind.

Close, but.... Oh well, wait and see. The other bed I ordered is much more substantial; maybe she'll like it better.

Meadow snoozing on my bed, my pillow.

Meadow has always had an interesting approach to bed surfing. When the girls were young, they'd frequently join me on my bed at night, although they rarely spent the entire night there (too warm, I'm sure). As they've aged, they jump onto the bed less frequently, and now almost never when I'm in it. In fact, if Maia wants on the bed when I'm in it, I know she's really in need of comfort; otherwise it's too much effort for her old legs. I had begun to believe that even the younger Meadow had reached the point where the jump up onto this Idaho house bed (a bit taller than the bed in Washington) was too difficult. But then I noticed that if I left the house, say to go for a run with Finn, when I returned the purple dog-hair-protection cover would be ever so carefully pulled back where my pillow lies underneath, and the area just below my pillow would be wrinkled from the weight of a malamute. This is her daily routine in Washington, too. Sweet, huh? She rarely lets me catch her sleeping there, though; not sure why, since it's okay and she's never been scolded for it.

Doesn't look very comfortable, does she?

I did catch Meadow trying out the new dog bed last night. She's still working on her technique.

Finn on the futon.

Finn doesn't need coaxing to use a bed. I've decided that the futon in the guest room can be used by any dog that wants it. I've covered it with an old sheet, and a towel, to keep the futon itself clean in case a human guest wishes to use it. Finn has started spending much of the night there, even though he can't see me in my room (he rarely lets me out of his sight).

Success! Maia uses the bed.

Finally, late last night, I found Maia sound asleep on the new bed. I'm relieved she's willing to use it without prompting, although most of today she spent on the concrete floors. We'll see if that changes over time, or when the serious dog bed arrives.

I can only do so much. Malamutes definitely have minds of their own.


Rebecca Wallick1 Comment