Earlier this year, we got a dog from a rescue group. Not terribly expressive, this dog. They said "Shadow" is a 6-year-old Cockapoo, but I think she's of dubious parentage.
Anyway, Shadow was reportedly raised by this 87-year-old man whose last name was "Hitler." I am not making this up – that was really his name. I assume he was born with it, though why anyone would keep such a moniker is beyond me. Well they, Shadow and this Hitler fellow, shared a trailer home together.
Then old Hitler died, landing poor Shadow in the rescue home where we found her. She's a fine dog, not real bright but nice enough -- except for one thing. We have a house with a family room where we spend a lot of time, as well as a "living room." Most dedicated living rooms I've seen have no function except to look nice. Not a come-in-and-sprawl-on-the-furniture nice, but more of a how-lovely-now-let's-go-sprawl-in-the-family-room nice.
Our living room has (had) a pristine cream-colored carpet. Well, I guess Hitler's double-wide didn't have a separate living room, because Shadow seems to regard it as something else altogether, like, oh I don't know -- the back yard? (Read: "a swell place to pee").
Shadow never cries, even when she wants to go out to relieve herself. Lord knows what Hitler did to stifle what I thought was a natural behavior. So our nice cream-colored carpet was soon dotted with yellow spots. My wife was thrilled beyond words. That's not quite accurate; she had lots to say. And did.
As the "man of the house," my main duties involve searing bovine flesh in the backyard, handling trash, trying to fix things that break, and dealing with dead and other nasty things that find their way onto our property. Taking care of dog waste falls in at least two of those categories, my wife assured me.
Now, when I was a kid and our dog made a mess on the rug, we'd rub its nose in it, scream "NO," in the biggest, most menacing voice we could muster, and administer a sharp and curiously satisfying thwack on the beast's rump. But being a progressive 21st-century man, I knew there must be a more enlightened and humane way.
Enter the Internet -- that repository of Humankind's collective learning and wisdom, along with videos of cats playing the piano. I did not know this, but modern canines apparently are far smarter and more sensitive than the pitiful curs that passed themselves off as "man's best friend" when I was a boy. I soon learned that the best way to housebreak today's dog is to sit inches from the expanding wet spot and play with the critter and murmur gentle nothings. I think the theory is that this teaches the dog that the spot is a place we inhabit, not a toilet.
Well, that didn't do anything but transfer Shadow's pee to the seat of my new pants. Back to the Internet, which now told me that I was ignorant (or so I inferred) because, as everyone knows, what I really should have done was scatter kibble in the target area: everyone also knows the old saw that an animal won't soil its feeding trough ... everyone except maybe Shadow.
I guess Shadow is not up on her old saws. I was starting to suspect that she truly is slow. Okay, so in addition to a stained carpet and wet pants, we now had a living room teeming with ants. Such resourceful and industrious creatures, those ants. I hate the little bastards.
Enough of the Internet. I never trusted it anyway. But I was fortunate that my wife's hair cutter is also a "professional" dog sitter (they must have a special school or something). She offered a suggestion: spread my clothes around the target area, so the dog associates my scent with the room. Introducing scents made sense, I suppose. But Shadow apparently harbors a secret desire to urinate on her master. And since I am far too mobile (when sober) to be a direct target, my clothes made for a suitable proxy. Note to self: don't use new white business shirts for house-breaking duties ... next time. At least now I have something that matches my stained pants.
So much for professional advice.
When it happens again, I think I'll just rub Shadow's nose in it, scream like a Banshee and beat her like a rented mule.
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