A couple of days after we picked up Cookie I came into the kitchen and stopped short as I watched her finish dropping a pile of poop next to a big wet splotch on our dining room carpet. OK, thought I, she’s new here, maybe she’s a little confused. No biggie. Just clean it up and she’ll adapt to her new surroundings.
Well, she did adapt but not in the expected manner. The next day a spot big enough to turn a couple dozen paper towels yellow appeared in another area of the dining room carpet. A day later another followed. Later yet a lake spread across the Wilsonart floor in the kitchen.
OK, so we need to house train a four-year-old dog who was supposed to be a house-trained two-year-old. You get surprises when you marry a spouse or get a kid or get a dog, and you just have to adapt.
Adapting to some surprises is easier than others, however. To effectively house train a dog you really have to catch her in the act, and Cookie is a master at avoiding detection. You can let her out in the morning and watch her diligently and she acts like a six-year-old who refuses to use the bathroom before a long car trip. You let her back in and keep an eye on her, but of course you can’t every second. Everyone has to check email once in a while, right? (Doing that fifty times a day is a horrible waste of time but it’s an addiction that’s hard to break.) And you’re not watching a dog when you’re watching a monitor. Then you walk back to the dining room, and on the way your socks get soaked.
Multiply that by a few more days and the frustration mounts. We did not sign on for this kind of challenge. We experienced enough house-training to last us a decade when Buck was a puppy. It is not fun. And now it’s the school year and everyone is busy and we have two dogs, and everyone is stretched a bit thin already. In a word, this is one complication too many.
For Karen and me the handwriting was on the wall – Cookie’s days were numbered. But Zoe would not hear of it. Would she then take responsibility for the house training, we asked? Yes, she would. Would that turn out to be the same kind of commitment she made when we got Buck and which turned out to be a dead letter from the day it was made? No this would be different.
We are now a week into the Zoe-takes-responsibility-for-Cookie era, and the record is mixed. Zoe has willingly taken on more responsibility, but she’s no better than I was at keeping eyes glued to Cookie every second she’s in carpet-squirting range. For Zoe, the call to run off and play with friends still tends to trump the call to stay and watch a dog who might soil the carpet at any moment but who waits for an opportune moment.
Cookie is a very nice dog who is affectionate and appreciates affection and harbors not an ounce of aggression for any human or canine. She deserves a very nice home. But whether this is the best home for her is now an open question.