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I’ll take “Idioms” for $2000, Alex.

“Answer:  An example of the straw that broke the horse’s back”


“What is…the dog peeing on the bed as we were literally climbing in at 1:00am last night after a performance of Mr. Apron’s show for which ¾ of my family was in attendance?”

After a day in which my family arrived, and by ‘arrived,’ I mean ‘descended upon like a plague of entropy,’ and I realized any illusion of control I wield over my own life would soon end.  After a 2-hour search for a double-boiler at 6 stores, which finally did yield the correct pot, but which enabled a colossal failure in my quest to make custard to use up the 10 egg yolks  I had left over from making my sister-in-law’s angel food birthday cake.

I think that counts as the last straw.  I think my tantrum on the rug screaming, “I just can’t cope!” was completely justified.  We were out of blankets as my sister was dozing under one comforter, my parents under another, and I had just pulled out our delicious down quilt.  We had somehow fitted it into its duvet despite the dog’s leaping and bounding all over it, and she let out her piece de resistance – a splatter of pee as we were about to crawl under the covers.  “She’s peeing, she’s peeing!” I screamed as I saw her mount her typical pose, but it was too late.

And my well intentioned custard?  It turned into hot, sour smelling milk with chunks of egg encrusted on the bottom of the pan.  Stupid “Joy of Cooking:” “Scald milk” (huh?) “Slowly add egg yolks, sugar, and salt.  Heat over a double boiler, stirring constantly until thickened.”  I looked up “scald”.  I stirred constantly, and all I got was nasty smelling milk with bits of egg mung.  So now I’ve used up 4 of those yolks and wasted 2 cups of milk, with nothing to show for it but a disposal with bad breath. 

I told my father, as he prepared to walk the puppy this afternoon to allay my responsibilities as I wrestled with a migraine, that if he happened to lose her, not to give chase.  She did wriggle out of her harness and escape, but he went after her, eventually hauling her sorry blonde ass home for us to deal with.

Despite the excitement over the play, it was simply a crap weekend.  One for the books, and one to sort through on the couch. 

“That’s correct!  You have control of the board.”

Now that my family is gone, the duvet is drying on the line, and the play is mercifully over, I may just have regained control.  If only the dog could do the same with her bladder.

Molly the dog is an enigma.  She is almost house-broken, until the weekend comes.  Our routines are not as rigid, our schedules not as predictable, and she gets more freedom.  Today, that meant she pissed on our bed, through the blanket, the sheets, and the mattress pad.  Why?  Well, she was left alone while we were working in the kitchen, hammering in extra nails to fix a bounce in the sub-floor.  The noise drove her upstairs, where we’ve been a little lax in our usual obsessive closing of doors to limit her access.  Is it our fault for not watching her?  Shouldn’t she be trained by now?  We know she can hold her bladder from 7am till 3:30 or 4pm, yet this accident (or, “On purpose” as we’ve been calling them) happened around 10:30am, in my best guess.  Physiologically, she can hold it, but does she choose not to, or have we, the responsible owners/trainers, not reinforced heavily enough, that potty happens outdoors? 

We praise lavishly, we even reward occasionally, the outdoor products.  In general, she stays in her crate while we are not home, and we always take her outside upon releasing her from her confinement, so as to give her a chance to relieve herself, and to relieve us in knowing she is “empty.”  We are never truly relaxed until she is empty. 

Yet the weekend is a slower pace, and that’s almost exclusively when she has her accidents.  In anger, we throw her in the crate, but this act of retribution is not even akin to putting out fires (laundry would seem to be its metaphor); it’s more to let her escape our wrath, the anger we have at ourselves for not prophylactically taking her out at 10am, or 3pm, or 7pm or whatever.  The other dog we adopted at age 4.  He has never had an indoor accident, except for the one time we gave him some high-quality, super-expensive food that made him shit 5 times a day, and he couldn’t hold it in the middle of the night.  I know dog experts say dogs don’t have consciences, that they don’t feel guilt, shame, or remorse, that they’re simply reading our reactions through tone of voice, body language, or actions.  I would argue that Finley does, though.  If he has flipped over a trash can (a habit of his from his youth), the dog gate fell, or he scratched a door out of anxiety from a fly’s presence (he’s a teensy bit neurotic), we will find him cowering, with his head low to the ground, tail down, nose downward. Even if we try to allay his feelings using cheery voices, happy greetings, and jovial head-petting, his tail may wag, but his bodystill  says, “I did something so wrong.  Will you find it in your heart to love me and not kick me out?”  He only requires 3 walks a day.

Why does she need more?  She simply does not understand.  She is too dumb to completely grasp the concept of voiding exclusively outdoors.  I know that, being part-lab, she will always be a few cards short of a full deck, but she has shown the capability to learn.  She has a release command for eating her food.  She will stop jumping if you ignore her and tell her to sit.  She will sit (when she feels like it) on command.  She will lie down (and roll over) when a treat is brought near the floor.  She will go up stairs on the command “up”.  She will stop pulling, briefly, on a walk.  She may not be all there mentally, but she isn’t eating drywall, and she hasn’t destroyed a shoe yet.  But if she is truly too stupid to grasp this concept, I blame myself.  I know she’s too dumb, and I don’t know what to do about it.  Which kind of makes it my fault.

One of the house-breaking books we brought home initially in March, when we brought Molly home, said there isn’t such a term as “almost house-broken” or “mostly potty-trained;” a dog either is, or she isn’t.  Since Molly continues to have accidents on the weekends, regardless of who is at fault, I guess she is as bad as the piddling puppy we brought home 6 months ago. 

Does anyone have any resources they love for “almost-trained” dogs?  Do you have any tricks or techniques to pass along for dumb dogs who don’t have an innate drive to please their owners?  Are we ever going to be able to use the crate as a PoMo coffee table?

Wednesday afternoons are usually my napping time.  Mr. Apron works late, so I usually come home, let the great grey beast out, and crash on the couch for 45 min to an hour.  Wednesday is also my nap day, because Tuesday night is our TV night.  Rather, we watch “SouthLAnd” on Tuesday nights from 10-11pm, so I’m always tired on Wednesdays.  I think a 10pm show is pushing it for a non-coffee-drinking human who works 8am-4pm, but we watch not only “SouthLAnd” at that timeslot, but also “Project Runway” on Thursday nights.  So my Wednesday and Friday morning kiddos must think the bags under my eyes are just part of the scenery. 

You know that series of Johnson & Johnson commercials where their heart-warming tagline is “having a baby changes everything”?  Well, having an unhouse-broken puppy might, too. 

Today’s affairs consisted of fighting through traffic precipitated by gorgeous weather, which seems to let the whacko drivers out of bumper car driving school early.  I was greeted by a very excited puppy who left marks of “excitement” on my arm with her tiny stabbing claws.  Did I mention she’s learning to sit and not jump?  I outed them both; they both made.  I fed them both; they both ate.  Then I settled down for a nap with the snuggly girl.  Ordinarily she is bar-none as a napping companion.  She usually flips onto her back, wedged into some crevice in the couch, and instantly becomes comatose.  So long as you don’t utter her name (“Molly” means instant and extremely positive verbal praise.  Her reaction: “You love me?  You love me!  I’m a good dog!  You said my name!”), she’ll stay there, warming, snoozing, breathing softly.

Today she might have been a little wound up from being in her crate for 4 hours.  She would have none of the submissive napping posture.  Instead, she wanted nothing more than to lick my face.  My nose, my eyes, my ear.  She nuzzled and licked till I was falling off the couch from trying to escape her tongue’s firing range.  Finally I gave up on the snuggling, and kicked her off.  As I prepared to put myself to sleep sans dog, I noticed a too-familiar wet oval on one of our only good rugs.  This meant, of course, I had to abort the napping plan altogether, spray the spot, leash her up and take her out, and then, failing any poop/pee in the appropriate locations, toss her back in her crate, whee, of course she would cry and whine in misery.

On our dog-training log, I wrote: “Sometime before 6pm — peed on the rug.”  She’s a sneaky little bitch.  I bet she was all kissy because she was trying to distract me long enough so she could get away with peeing on the rug. 

Of course, now she and Finley are passed out on the floor, keeping me company while I keep vigil for any squatting.  Such perfect angels when they sleep.  Just like me.  All I wanted was my nap.  Sigh.  Having a puppy changes naptime.

I came home last week to some malfunctions in our little lives.  I was greeted by voicemails from Mr. Apron to the effect that the car wouldn’t start and he now was using the butt of his shoe to encourage the key to start.  When I came upstairs to the office to listen to the voicemail and check my e-mail, I was greeted by a computer virus called “Virus Protector”.    You know, one of those ones that masquerades as something you’d want to install.  Thankfully, I clicked on nothing, but the damage was done.  As soon as Mr. Apron dealt with crisis #1 (car), he came home and we dealt with crisis #2 (computer).  Then on Wednesday, with the car part ordered and the computer safely at the shop, we went out to acquire crisis #3 (puppy), admittedly self-imposed. 

And all throughout the weekend, we made trips to Petco, opening up our bank accounts as Molly left presents around the house and destroyed all plastic water bowls we put in her crate in an effort not to be cruel.  And all throughout the weekend, we house-trained our Golden Girl, through the unceasing rain, the horrendous winds, the leaky window that drips into our kitchen, and my ill-temper at being stuck at home dealing with the above. 

But today, after discrete trials with food reinforcers, Molly is learning “Sit down.”  And, because I am a speech-language pathologist and think of such things, I shall report to you that she sat down on the rug with verbal prompts, 0 or 1 repetition, and a gestural cue in 15/15 trials with Finley as a peer model.  Also, because I think of such things, I know I will have to increase the difficulty to include different situations such as feeding time, getting her leash on,waiting to go outside, and crossing the street. 

But today, after Mr. Apron picked it up and hooked it up on his lunch break, I am blogging from our very new computer. 

The car part has yet to come in, though the mechanic did call to tell us he forgot to order it.  And the window installation guys finally called yesterday to make an appointment.  New windows tomorrow mean a drier kitchen, and a juicier tax credit for energy savings in the year to come.  Woohoo!

Unfortunately, our new computer uses a USB-exclusive hook-up system, so the printer is sadly waiting for a converter, and my beautiful marvelous ergonomic keyboard sits, um, somewhere, until we get a converter for it, too.  Until then, my poor fingers are cramping up.  Pity me.  Please.  Don’t get me wrong; the new keyboard is sleek, small, flashy, and its black with silver trim matches the computer, but I’m one of those wackos who prefers ergonomic.  I actually asked for it for a birthday present in college.  My nails are so long I keep hitting the caps lock by mistake and I can’t find “End” or “Home”.  I am one of those who learned to type before we had  a computer, using a piece of paper my father traced 26 circles on using a penny.  And I’m one of those who uses keyboard shortcuts and get compliments on her typing position and speed.  So don’t tease.  Just point me to a USB-keyboard converter cable, and be on your merry way. 

Welcome to our home, new computer.  If I could only find the key labeled “House-training”.

Well, folks, we’ve done it.  We’ve upended whatever calm was left in our lives (after a week where the car wouldn’t start, the computer came underattack by the new “Virus Protector” virus, and Corey Haim is dead) by adopting a new dog.  She’s an 8 month old cockapoo-lab mix and her name is Molly and she’s gone and stolen our hearts.  She already knows her name (which has been swiftly changed from Miley.  Rawlf.) and comes running whenever we coo at her.  All words aimed at her are perceived as praise, and she loves nothing more than a snuggle session on the couch as she lumps from lap to lap, licking necks and hands, and covering us with blond fur. 

Here’s our pretty girl:

Finley is less than thrilled.  We did bring him down to the shelter on Saturday for the requisite playdate, and they tolerated each other just fine, which was as good as we knew it was going to be with Finley, the dog who doesn’t care a lick about other dogs.  Ever.  Molly was slow to warm up, having been surrendered only on Friday, but she rebonded with us last night as we drove home from the shelter, her seal-shaped head poking out from between the seats as she begged for a ride in the front. 

Once at home, she became almost robotic.  Didn’t eat, didn’t drink, didn’t chew, didn’t pee (indoors or out), didn’t poop (ditto), didn’t bark or whine or howl.  Almost like a Zhu-zhu pet, I remarked.  Then, as we were brushing our teeth, she decided the hallway would be a good bathroom.  As I have been trained to do, I stomped my foot to disrupt her stream, threw a towel over it, and ushered her outdoors, where she spastically sniffed and pounced and prowled around.  And decidedly did not squat. 

And then, a half-hour later, as we sat unwinding with a little Law & Order, she had a repeat performance.  Luckily Mr. Apron saw her intentions before our rug did, and he, too, pushed her outdoors, where she played in the pachysandra. 

She did leave us a pungent present at midnight, which I tried to ignore, but finally succeeded in asking Mr. Apron to clean up, and we managed to spend a few anxious hours asleep, fearing the ginormous puddles that would await us in the morning. 

It only took three trips outdoors this morning for Molly to finally pee on the driveway, outdoors.  And after a carefully choreographed feeding session at 7:45am, she was all set to poop at 8:00am, which she did.  Outdoors.  And there was much rejoicing. 

As I write, Mr. Apron is off to Petco to buy a crate.  I was really hoping to avoid the annoyance and eyesore of crate-training, but I’d also like to be able to sleep at night.  I think 12:45am was my watershed moment.  When something messes with my sleep, I reach my breaking point. 

But instead of turning her in, as her former owners did last week, we’re taking positive steps.  We’re picking up where they left off, and giving her a happy Forever Home with two people who are madly in love with her, and an older dog who really couldn’t care less.  And that’s just the way we planned it.

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