Been There, Done That by Laura Nethken

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It's hard to explain, but I think our granddog, Bo, is unlearning the rules of being housebroken that it took us the first six months of his life to teach him. Actually, explaining it is easy, comprehending it is difficult.

I went through countless cans of carpet cleaner as he struggled to learn the rules. Actually, the toughest part was knowing when he had to go and getting him to convey that need in a timely fashion. It took what seemed like forever, but we finally accomplished it. Bo was completely housebroken.

And now, there seems to be some sort of a relapse. I've found mysterious wet spots on the corners of things in the house. I wasn't really sure what was going on, but I had a pretty strong suspicion. And our dog, Duke, was ruled out automatically.

He had his "wings clipped" too early in his life and never learned to pee like a boy. If somebody wet on your car tires I can guarantee it wasn't Duke. He can pee really close to something, but not on it. So my best guess for the culprit was Bo.

And he must have gone temporarily insane the other day as I followed him up the stairs. He reached the top and hiked his leg right on the baby gate. I'm standing right here!

Granted, I can see him harboring some hostility toward the gate. It does block him from access to all the upstairs rooms, but still, no peeing in the house.

Maybe he didn't unlearn his training, maybe he's picked up something new. Maybe he's been watching Cooter, the outside cat, as she rubs up against everything in the yard.

I told our oldest boy the cat needs brushed or something. He said she wasn't trying to remove excess hair, she was "marking" things. "This is mine and this is mine …"

Kind of bold for a cat that just sort of showed up last winter and forgot to go back where she came from.

For the most part, Bo never really hits what he's aiming for anyway, but it still makes a mess if it's inside. And it doesn't help when he pees on anything that happens to be left on or near the back porch, either.

I do cut him some slack on rainy days. I wouldn't want to slop through the wet yard in my bare feet first thing in the morning for a potty break either. But eventually he's going to rot out the porch post if he keeps peeing on it.

Duke toughs it out even on rainy days, but he's an even bigger problem. He closes his eyes in the rain. And then walks into everything -- car bumpers, the picnic table, the fire ring …

At least he's not unlearning his training, but we're running out of baby aspirins to give him for the headaches.

I've trained a bunch of dogs and several two-legged boys and I think it's a toss-up as to which is easier.

When our oldest son was first learning, we had several issues. The first, of course, was hitting what he was aiming at. At the time, the big baby store came out with flushable targets.

Cool, but way out of our budget, so in the evenings my husband and I would draw pictures on individual sheets of toilet paper. Then float it on top of the water in the toilet and tell the boy to "sink the battleship."

Our second biggest challenge was being near a toilet when the urge came upon him. Fortunately for him, I knew the location of nearly every potty room in Northeastern Ohio. I had just previously done a nine-month stint with a tiny foot buried in my bladder.

One of our more challenging issues was going potty outside. Since timing was everything with a new learner, we weren't against allowing him to pee outside. No need to kill himself racing for the bathroom, but he needed to be discreet about it.

We were outside one day when I saw him sneak around the other side of the shed. As I rounded the corner to follow him, several people drove past, honking and waving. He was peeing toward the road.

I said, "You know better, you're supposed to hide." He said, "I was hiding, Mommy, you couldn't see me." Touché. At least he hasn't unlearned anything in the years since.

Copyright 2014 Laura Nethken

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