Every morning I start my day writing a list of things that I am grateful for. Sometimes they are big things (Jim, my dogs, opportunities to learn, grow and improve relationships between people and animals) and sometimes they are small (the plaintive Wooo Heee song of courting Chickadees, the deep, purple blue of the first spring flowers). This morning I surprised myself, by adding:
I am grateful that none of my dogs potty in the house.
House training and elimination control is like health, isn’t it? If everything is fine, you don’t really think about it much. But when it’s not, it can be overwhelming. I went through two years living with old dogs who simply couldn’t control themselves. Pippy Tay lost control of her anus in her last year of life (at age 15) and I picked up poop at least five times a day. Tulip had Irritable Bowel disease and problem with her pancreas, and a variety of unwelcome substances decorated my house with alarming frequency. (One of the things I am grateful for is that Jim never once complained about living in what felt like a litter box.)
Years earlier, when Luke was alive, I had to keep the door shut to an upstairs bedroom. The orange and yellow shag carpet that was there when I moved in had clearly been anointed by other animals, and Luke never missed a chance to mark it until I finally ripped it out. (One could argue that a yellow and orange carpet deserves nothing more than to be urinated upon.. oh, the 60′s!)
A week doesn’t go by that I don’t get an email or phone call from someone who is having trouble house training their dog. Isn’t it interesting how simple house training feels once you get it, but how terrifically un-intuitive it is before you’ve done it repeatedly? When Karen London and I wrote Way to Go, we were struck by how many people resisted giving their dog a treat for eliminating outside, and how common it is for people to give the treat long after the dog is done, and after she trots back to the house. Once you face the fact that you just have take your dog out every time you turn around, give them the treat immeditely after they potty, and prevent accidents in the house… well, it usually goes so smoothly. That’s not to say that some cases can’t be difficult: dogs who grew up going to the bathroom where they live, dogs who had health problems when young that interferred with training, etc. I am very sympathetic to the difficult cases, and I’ve seen some tough ones as you can imagine.
But for now, THANK YOU Willie and Lassie! Lassie is susceptible to bladder infections, so I always look for a puddle in the dining room first thing as I enter the house (a sign her infection is back), but it’s been over a half of year since I’ve had to clean anything up. Wow. Life is good.
Meanwhile, back at the farm. No new lambs, although I’m going to leave the office as soon as I finish this to check on the flock. Barbie and Dorothy are due any day, so they are confined inside the barn (and are none to happy about it. Barbie smashed into poor Willie as he was leaving the pen yesterday–this after he stood up bravely to an attack from Redford, I was SO proud of him). She went after me this morning. I guess if I was as big as she is I’d be in a bad mood too. She gets huge.. we call her “Explodo sheep” before she gives birth.)
I didn’t get any pictures taken this morning, started grading term papers at 6 am. But I did take the time to write that I am grateful for the opportunities to travel to amazing places through my work, and to meet wonderful people all over the world. Here are two of my favorite photos from our trip to Sweden, thanks to Natasja at Hundens Osterlen, who hosted the seminar.
The Swedish “Stonehenge”
Isn’t this church gorgeous? It makes me happy just to look at it. That’s Jim at the end… it makes me happy to look at him too!