July 25, 2009

Puppy Proof: Adventures in Early Potty Training

March 2008

I'm perched on a stool in the kitchen typing this on my laptop. The legs of the stool and my socks have been liberally sprayed with a bitter-tasting chew deterrent. Oh, hold on, I need to pause for a minute to go spray my pant legs, too...there. I'm puppy-proof.

We've had Vipper for two weeks now. Two long weeks.

Two weeks in which I am no longer free to do anything, anything at all, without considering how it will impact the puppy.

Two weeks that have taught me why it is that puppies are so darn cute - so we don't throttle them!

A typical day in Puppyland involves planning. If my husband is not home to puppy-sit, I must take Vipper with me when I drop off/pick up my son from preschool because Vipper doesn't have the usual distaste for pooping in his crate that all of our dog-eared puppy books say is the norm.

I blame this on his breed, English Springer Spaniel, because they are a hugely social dog. He gets Very Upset if one of us is not within licking distance at all times. And when he's Upset, it appears to stimulate his digestive system, so to speak.

So I'm forced to haul Vipper around in his crate if I need to make a short trip in the car. I put him up front so he can see me, and haul butt dropping my son off and picking him up from preschool so Vipper doesn't have time to get worked up enough to unload a special surprise for my return.

We get home and I let him out into his blocked off kitchen area. I feed him and take my son upstairs, rushing ("Go, go, go - hurry up! I don't want Vipper to go potty!") for his nap. Abrupt kisses, hugs, tuck my son in and less than two minutes later I come downstairs to a relieved puppy.

Relieved? -you ask.

Relieved to see me? Well, yes, that, too.

It's just a puddle, though. A puddle that he ran through, skidded through and generally tracked all over the kitchen.

According to one of the puppy books, I'm not supposed to let him see me clean it up. (I haven't quite figured that rule out. Is it because if he sees me, he'll laugh his stubby tail off? Look at that human. She is my slave. She's working so hard to clean up my doo-doo. She seems to enjoy it. I like her. I think I'll leave her another over here.)

So I put him back in the crate and break out the mop. Less than five minutes later - nice clean floor.

Does Vipper appreciate my efforts? No, sir, he does not. He has, however, taken a major dump-ola in the crate.

Which he stepped in and skidded through and generally got all over his paws and the towel I gave him for his comfort. This is the fifth towel I've had to discard (really, there's no way I'm going to put that into my brand new washer).

Instead of taking him upstairs into my new deep bathtub (I've had one good soak in it since we've lived here; Vipper's been here two weeks and has had four, you do the math), I take him outside and wash his paws with the hose.

I know we're not supposed to be angry when a puppy can't hold it (for TWO LOUSY MINUTES), but do I want to reward him with a nice warm bath and a towel snuggle afterward? You bet your squeaky toy I don't!

Just exactly like a child who instinctively knows when mama is distracted enough not to notice that he's about to pour the sugar canister out on the kitchen table, a puppy knows when it's a good time to sneak into his favorite corner of the kitchen to whizzle. The puppy books will tell you otherwise. They say that your midget canine simply cannot hold it. I beg to differ. If Vipper has no bladder control whatsoever, why have I never caught him in the act? Why does he always just happen to be on the opposite side of the island in our kitchen when the waterworks start?

Oh, I long for the days when he figures it out. I want to be staring into his hazel eyes and catch a glimpse of the intelligence I know has to be in there somewhere. To date we have not gotten through one day without a potty mishap.

Hey...where's Vipper?


1 comment:

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