Not so long ago, I attempted (and, for all intents and purposes, failed) to housetrain my dog. That said, it was an exasperating affair that caused me unspeakable grief and torment.
In disbelief I crane my neck to find the source, scanning the skies while the faint yet relentless honking and squawking of Canada geese filters to my ears from high above—a wayward trail of dots scattered across a brilliant blue canvas, inching ever northward as one. Each year the scenario is the same; I am awed by the magnificence of such an event. Inspired by its significance. Reminded, once again, of its meaning—that spring has finally arrived. That long-awaited season of growth and renewal is upon us at last, despite its fits and starts throughout the fickle month of March. It’s the elixir of life—bottled abundantly in the form of sunshine, green leafiness and the incessant twitter of songbirds.
Likewise, the advent of baseball season and its much-heralded prologue, Spring Training, remind me that we are on the cusp of something wonderful. I only wish it were so with respect to the “spring training” of my dog, Jack. That feels more like teetering on the edge of despair—as if I’m doomed to spend the rest of my days trying to get a persnickety pooch to piddle and poo in the right place. Preferably outdoors. Without adopting a colony of ticks and/or fleas in the process. Quite frankly, it’s been a challenge beyond almost any I have ever faced—which baffles me to no end. I potty-trained three kids, after all.
I just don’t get it. The task itself doesn’t look all that difficult. For years I’ve watched people take little jaunts with their dogs and thought, “That’s not so tough—a monkey could probably walk a dog and make him pee. Why don’t I get a dog? Then I’d get more exercise and fresh air and all that good stuff. Yeah, a dog would be nice.”
Little did I know, training said tail-wagger would be an exasperating affair—one that would cause me unspeakable grief and demand that I devour each and every syllable of the assertions I had so erroneously made.
Mostly, I think it’s because the dog in question isn’t particularly interested in seeing that I achieve my objective—getting him to relieve himself in a timely fashion in the appropriate location, with or without treats and an inordinate amount of cajoling. His objective, apparently, carries far more appeal—that which involves stumbling upon and inspecting (but hopefully, not eating) all-that-is-completely-deplorable-and-dreadfully-repulsive on the face of the earth. Stuff like deer droppings, cigarette butts, wads of chewing gum and discarded Band-Aids, snippets of carrion and, of course, dog dung—at all stages of decomposition deserve an untold degree of scrutiny. His fuzzy snout, it seems, is keenly drawn to every speck of foulness that lurks in our path. The ranker the entity, the better—in his beady little eyes.
My function: to plant myself there at the end of the leash like a dutiful dolt until he is completely satisfied with having sniffed-to-death whatever it was that piqued his interest in the first place, feigning both patience and understanding. Further, as his loyal companion I must tolerate his sinfully erratic movements and delusions of grandeur that center around an unwavering belief that he is a draft horse on a mission to haul me into a neighboring county. How an eight-pound ball of fluff can drag me anywhere is beyond me. But he does; and is happy to do so, huffing and puffing, his tongue flapping all the way—to the next bit of repulsiveness, that is. “Who knows,” I reason, “…maybe that will be the ‘bit of repulsiveness’ that makes him deposit his own ‘bit of repulsiveness!’”
So when we do finally decide to venture out into the world at large, I suppose it should be no surprise to me that the muttonhead acts like a deranged squirrel, skittering hither and yon in an absolute panic over the feast for the senses bestowed upon him. It’s the ultimate canine smorgasbord, featuring a whole host of odoriferous items that must be classified somewhere on that hideous Stench Scale. Needless to say, I hold on tight lest he yank my shoulder out of its socket.
As luck would have it, my charges often tag along for the festivities, scouring great patches of earth for evidence of poo. Shouts of, “Fresh poopie alert, Mom! Let Jack smell it quick!” can be heard far and wide.
Like the geese, I suppose it’s yet another harbinger of spring. Then again, I’ve been told I don’t know Jack.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live. Visit me there at www.notesfromplanetmom.com.
Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel