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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”.