Wait, you want me to pee outside? In the cold? On the gravel? Even if it’s raining? Whaaaaaaa?
So might say Tootsie, who was rescued by the good people at Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue, thanks to an amazing woman who pulled her, and a multitude of other dogs, from a northern Wisconsin puppy mill.
Through a wonderful moment of serendipity, I’ve just learned the details of Tootsie’s past. She was taken from a puppy mill with large numbers of dogs living in “horrendous conditions”. Most of the dogs lived in a disgustingly filthy barn, but Tootsie was one of a group of Cavaliers who lived on the equally disgusting concrete pad of an old silo, pumping out puppies in spite of serious health concerns. She had to have 21 teeth extracted after she was rescued, because her mouth was a cesspool of infection. Her ears were so badly compromised that they reportedly were dripping green goo. However, her years in an outdoor cage gave her an advantage. Unlike the dogs in the barn, she could see people coming and going, smell fresh air and hear a variety of sounds.
But no wonder her preferred place to urinate was first inside the house (home = bathroom), and the concrete slab where we park our cars (cement = toilet). That’s why house training was job one the day we got her. I knew far too well that dogs who grew up eliminating in their own homes take some energy to house train. In Tootsie’s case it didn’t take long–we took her out those first few days about every ten minutes. (Literally. I’m always shocked when people are advised to take a new dog out once an hour. Waaaay too long between trips outside!) She got pieces of chicken for pottying outside, and soon she learned to control her bladder, and urinate and defecate outside. Just recently she began peeing on the concrete again, instead of the gravel driveway, and so back we went to treats as reinforcement. It took two weeks, and she’s back to trotting over the concrete onto the driveway.
This new found connection with Tootsie’s original rescuer, as well as her short-termed house training regression reminded me how much I owe her and Lucky Star Rescue. In celebration of shelters and rescue groups, and the time of year that all of us are donating to special causes, we are joining with Dogwise to make a Special Offer to Donors that grants free shipping for all large orders of Way to Go! How to Housetrain a Dog of Any Age. (It happens automatically in check out.) We sell it at cost anyway ($1.00 each for orders over 100), because we are all committed to helping dogs who had sketchy starts in life. Here’s a chance, through December 20th, to give every dog a better chance of staying in a forever home.
Keep in mind that training dogs to eliminate outside of our homes may seem like a trivial problem, but it’s not. House training problems can be serious problems indeed. It is hard to maintain a loving relationship with an individual who poops on your pillow. I can’t count the number of couples I saw whose relationship had degraded into endless fighting about Ginger or Buster, whose urine ruined their oriental carpet, or whose dog ended up going back to the shelter because of house training problems. It is more gratifying than I can say that several organizations say it has helped them immensely by reducing calls to their help line and the number of returns they get.
Speaking of house training problems, there’s a new book for dog trainers from Dogwise, titled Hard to House Train: Practical Solutions for Dog Trainers. It is much more extensive than the concise Way to Go!, and is designed to be a “go-to reference guide for trainers who encounter difficult house training cases”. I love the inclusion of lots of case studies, but will admit to wishing there was a bit more about dogs who were indeed “house trained”–as in dogs who learned to eliminate in their houses in neglectful situations. But it’s a valuable resource for trainers; check it out if that includes you.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: 15 degrees Fahrenheit tonight? Oh my.
One more ewe bred. Check out the two blue butts! Three to go.
Maggie just did awesome work holding the lambs off the feeders so I could add the grain. I wasn’t able to get photos of her quarter-horsing right and left to stop the lambs from breaking out of the corner (too busy watching to be sure it went well), but she was fantastic. See the lamb in the middle looking right at Maggie? Immediately after I took this photo she broke to the right, and Maggie dashed to block her and put her back in the corner. Then the brown lamb on the left broke left and practically lept over Maggie, but she got around and brought the lamb back. Looks like her confidence of coming back. Yay!
Here’s the rest of the flock, waiting to come in to get their hay. None of these ewes will be bred this year–too old or not good mommas. That’s Lady Godiva on the left with the white nose. She is now retired from lambing due to her age and health challenges. So glad she’s still with us!
Hope your week is a good one.