Pets at the Cabin

DOGS at the Cabin

You may be relaxed, but is your pet on edge?
Here’s what you can do about it.

By Elizabeth Atkinson
Published: May 1, 2006
Photo by Tomislav Stajduhar
We finished building our vacation cottage in the mountains of western Maine about a year ago. My husband and I had been dreaming of owning a second home throughout our 19 years of marriage. Once our cottage was finished, our two teenage children were thrilled, our families were excited and all our friends were eager to visit.  
Only one important member of our close-knit circle was displeased: our 9-year-old black lab, China.

A Day in the Life
Our “real life” in Massachusetts is typically suburban. China clearly loves her daily routine of riding with the kids to school after breakfast, then plopping down in the front yard in a patch of sun for a couple of hours. She often lifts her head to bark at someone passing by, but is quick to befriend anyone willing to throw her a tennis ball. At noon, China comes indoors and sits with me in my office as I work until school is over. Then one of the kids gives her a walk and throws her a ball in the back yard. In the evening, following her dinner, there are plenty of hands around to rub China’s tummy. When we travel, she almost always stays home under the care of our next-door neighbor.
We took it for granted that our happy, mellow pet would immediately translate her daily life to our weekend retreat in Maine. But from the moment we drove up the dirt driveway, she seemed like a different dog. 
When China ventured inside the cottage, she was nervous and whimpered to go out. When she was outside she was overly alert and tense. And when anyone happened to walk along the rural wooded road, she charged them, her hair on end, even growling.
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