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My dog is staring at me. This is not a good thing.
No, not because she’s likely to jump up and bite my face off (though she is a pit bull). Nor is she sending telegraphic messages of any kind to my brain through her gaze.
(Though when she does, the message is usually something like, ‘You will feed me more Snauuuuuusages. You must replace the couch legs with pepperoooooni logs. You are compelled to tile the kitchen with slices of pooooork roooooast.‘ Yes, my dog think-talks like Mesmerino, the canine hypnotist. And no, she doesn’t know the word ‘compelled’. I’m paraphrasing. Deal.)
Anyway, she’s staring at me because she wants to pee. Now, let’s be clear about this, folks. She doesn’t need to pee; she only wants to pee. If she really needed to pee, she’d walk into the kitchen, through the doggy door and into her outside kennel, and pee. She’s done it dozens of times before, and she knows just how the procedure works. Finding the right place — or even a marginally acceptable place — to relieve yourself is not rocket science, unless you’re just absolutely wasted. Which my dog very rarely is, so you can understand my annoyance when she comes to me because she has to take a whiz. Like I’m in charge of the Holy Golden Doggie Bedpan or something, and I’m gonna hold it underneath her, and wipe her bottom when she’s done. No. Not doin’ that. She’s got her spot, and the door is always open. She doesn’t need an audience to take a proper piss.
And yet, here she is, all starey and fidgety, and just about ready to make it official. See, we taught our dog to bark when she wants to go outside to pee, or for a nice number two. I think we made that very clear. Oh, we’ll walk you from time to time, just for ‘shits and giggles’, we said, but if you bark for our attention, then it had better be because you need to make ‘shits and tinkles’. That’s what we told her. But what did she hear? She heard, ‘We have now designated your bark as a signal. Treat it like a little service bell that you keep around your neck at all times. If you ever have any desire that requires our attention, just give a bark, and we’ll be there to help. We are at your beck and call, and live only to serve you, oh slobbering furry mistress.‘
So now we filter. Now when the dog barks, we play CSI: K9 Corps in our head. When was her last trip? What did she do then? Is there a squirrel, or a bird, or a particularly interesting bit of some other dog’s poop, that she’s obviously barking about? Am I wearing any pants right now? The answers to all of these questions, and often more, get culled into one big decision about whether the dog is being a pain in the ass, or might actually have a pain in the ass. It’s like playing Dogshit Roulette. You never know when she’s going to have to legitimately go twice in an hour because she drank a gallon of water, or she’s sick, or she ate the neighbor’s cat. Again. So you spin the chamber, and choose ‘yea’ or ‘nay’, and just hope that you’ve chosen wisely. Give in too often, and she owns your ass, and you’ll be hearing that bark every twenty minutes for the rest of your life. Ignore even one genuine desperate plea, and you’ll be cleaning fresh ‘pile’ out of your pile carpet for a month or more. It’s a fine line, and there’s dog piss on one side, so you tend to lean in the other direction. And hold your nose, of course.
Such was life for the first three years that we shared an apartment with our dog. We erred usually on the side of caution, with a few rare, but hauntingly unforgettable, exceptions. In short, we were dog owners, and we made every effort we could to minimize the filth that we had to live in.
But that all changed when we bought our house. Or rather, it should have. See, the previous owners of this house lived with two beagles. Well-behaved, easily-trained, non-manipulative beagles, by all accounts. Sweet dogs, grateful for their owners’ affection, and glad for the roof over their heads and the kibble in their bowls. They were walked regularly, for exercise, but they — these majestic, gorgeous beagles — had learned that any between-walk emergency was handled by finding their way out the doggie door so lovingly provided, and into the outdoor kennel erected solely for their benefit. Once in the privacy of said quarters, all bets were off. All manner of bodily fluids or solids could be deposited there, with no hard feelings, and would be ‘taken care of’ later, by the humans in the house. Everyone had a role, and everyone understood it. It was a virtual utopia, with every creature working together to crap, or to clean, with no assistance needed from the other side at any time. It brings a tear to my eye even to describe it.
For you see, my dog — much as I love her — is apparently not a ‘team player’. Or maybe she’s too much of a team player. Either way, she’s decided that she requires an audience to witness her excretions. They’re like performances, and the curtain can’t go up, or the turdlets come down, until someone’s watching. Which is made even weirder by the fact that she doesn’t want you to actually watch her. Actually eyeball her while she’s making tinkles or dropping cigars, and she’ll give you this horrified, baleful expression. ‘No! No one can see me like this — avert your gaze! Have you no pity? Have you no soul?‘ But leave the scene, and the show is cancelled altogether. She’s a strange and mysterious creature, to be certain.
So, anyway, I’ve done my best to get her to go by herself, but so far to no avail. And, just at the moment, as she often does, she’s staring at me, daring me to look her way. If I look, she barks, and I’ve got to trudge downstairs, get her leash, escort her to the doggie door, let her go through, walk outside, watch her piss, and then take her for a walk. Oh, and I should probably put some pants on in there somewhere, too. Old Mrs. Johnson next door is almost out of her nitro pills, so I don’t want to give her another late-night shock. She got pretty worked up after the last, um, episode, but she was okay. She asked for some mouth-to-mouth, but I respectfully declined. Daddy’s not takin’ care of you if you don’t put your dentures in, Mrs. J. Quid pro quo, dear, quid pro quo.
What was I saying? Oh, right, the circus of taking the dog out.
The whole procedure with walking the dog is like a three-hour tour, but I’ve got the carpet stains to prove that it’s still the right thing to do. And so I’m gonna have to take her soon. One day, she’ll learn. But for now, I’ve got to coax her to the kennel myself and tell her to ‘tinkle!’ before she lets loose a single drop.
(Yes, I have a keyword to make my dog wee, and yes, it’s ‘tinkle’. You think I’m happy about it? You think I like walking her through the neighborhood, past suits and construction workers and hot chicks, and saying, ‘Okay, widdle girly-kins. Make tinkles!‘ No. No, I fucking don’t. But in a more lucid time, back when we first brought the dog home, I thought it through, and that’s the choice I made. Even now, I see the wisdom in it, given that the alternative is to stand over her and scream, ‘TAKE A PISS, YOU FAT BITCH COW!‘ While I imagine it would actually make her pee (hell, it’d work on me!), that sort of thing tends to scare the children in the neighborhood, not to mention old Mrs. Johnson. And given that the latter likes to cop a feel when I have to give her CPR, I’d really like to avoid startling her, if I possibly can. Thanks just the same.)
So, that’s the story of my dog and the amazingly convenient doggie door that she refuses to put to good use. But we’ll get her there. The ‘accidents’ are happening closer and closer to the door these days, so maybe she’s getting the message. Why, in a couple of years, she’ll probably be pissing right in the kitchen, and soon after, right by the door itself. A few months later, and we might just have our little girl broken in, after all. Now if I can just train her to aim the stream at Mrs. J’s begonias, maybe we’ll have something to really talk about. I’ll keep you posted.
CRAP (see this post for the CRAP 411):
You know, in a way, I’m a little jealous of the system my dog’s got working. Shouldn’t life work the same way for us biped types of folks? I mean, we’re supposedly more evolved and all, but dammit, I’ve tried looking expectantly and bug-eyed at whoever was talking to me when I decided I needed to pee, and not one of those bastards stopped talking and let me go. Not one. Wouldn’t that be a cool societal rule to introduce, though? It’s embarrassing to excuse yourself to go to the rest room in the middle of a conversation, right? And at least a little more embarrassing to just let loose right there, so your options are not good.
Wouldn’t it be a lot better if you could just start staring at someone when you had to go, until they realized that you were giving ‘the signal’, and they should shut the hell up and let you go about your — um, business? No muss, no fuss, no need to use foolish terms like ‘potty’ or ‘little boy’s room’. I think we’ve got to get Miss Manners or Martha Stewart or somebody on board to support this, and it’ll take off like wildfire. Or like a shred of dignity at an AARP-sponsored wet T-shirt contest. Whichever works for you.
(Hey, some people are scared of wild fires. I’m just trying to help.)
Sure, my scheme has some limits. It wouldn’t work while you’re on the phone, for instance… but who refrains from a little release while they’re on the phone any more, anyway? Hell, in most of the calls I make, one or the other of us is ‘just running some water’, or ‘starting a lawnmower’, or ‘strangling a sheep’. We all know what we really mean, and Ann Landers signed off on that practice long ago. This staring thing is much better, and doesn’t involve talking to anyone while you’re making bathroom faces. Really, it’s an idea whose time has come. Spread the word, people. Make a difference.Permalink | 1 Comment
I was looking for information on doggie doors when I came across your site. Great writing. Thanks!