I’m getting this timing thing down now. I’m learning to pace myself. I’m learning that poops and peeps come at specific times of the day, every day. They are unbidden, but pretty much predictable.


Anent this I have figured out two specific things. First, if I do it inside I get an unhappy response – lots of moaning and groaning and huffing and puffing and I am called a “bad boy”, whatever that means. Second, if I do it outside I get hugs and kisses and pets and strokes and I am called a “good boy.”

Intrinsically, of course, it’s a fairly simple thing. I gotta go when I gotta go, and that’s just all there is to it. But I have to admit – if I’m being honest with myself – that I do prefer the hugs and “good boy” to the other thing. So it makes sense to me – stop me if I’m wrong – to arrange things in my life so that when I get that ol’ pushin’ feelin’ I take steps to notify the powers that be.

To wit, I have devised a series of signals for the guys and I use these to let them know that hugs will soon be required. When all goes according to Hoyle they see my signals, take me outside, I do my thing and the hugs and kisses roll in. When Hoyle is ignored, things tend to get a little more tricky.

My signals are simple. They’re a bit location-dependent, but they’re quite easy to figure out.

The first is panting. If I’m in the living room with the guys and I need to go outside I’ll sit or stand on someone’s chest just panting in their face until they realize how anxious I am. This is a tougher sell for Em because he naps almost as much as I do, but lately he’s started picking up on it much sooner too, which obviously makes me happy.

If panting doesn’t work I’ll bark like crazy. Doing this is doubly smart – if they see it as a signal they’ll get up and take me outside, which is simply super. But even if they don’t recognize it as a signal per se they’ll take me outside in order to get a little peace and quiet. The result is the same for me either way.

If I’m in the kitchen – the only place other than outside that I’m allowed to be on the floor unattended – I’ll do both of the above, and to really nail it home I’ll sniff frantically around the perimeter of the room – I think they call them baseboards – until they notice me, get nervous, and pick me up to take me outside.

Now this is all well and good, but following yesterday’s adventure with the stairs I heard them talking about me a little. Apparently, now that I’m learning to negotiate the stairs by myself I’m supposed to know about what they call a bell – something I’m supposed to swipe my paw over or bump my nose against whenever I need to go – to give them a sign that it’s time to let me out. This bell is hanging on the back door – I’ve seen it for days now, though I just thought it was a musical decoration.

All this is, of course, a lot to think about, and just like Em and Jay whenever I think a lot I need a nap to recover. It’s hard work figuring this stuff out! But that’s in the nature of training, isn’t it?

Anyway, really, truly, am I the one being trained here, or are Em and Jay? It seems to me that all these signals of mine are teaching them more about what they need to do to protect the kitchen than they are teaching me about how to stay in the good books.

Or, perhaps it’s a synergy. Perhaps they’re learning just as much as I am. Perhaps I’m teaching them even as they teach me?

Either way, it can be challenging to figure things out.



About James McDonall

I believe in laughing, especially at yourself, and as often possible. I believe in "live and let live". I believe that communication is the foundation of all our solutions. I believe that listening is more important than speaking, and that speaking should serve the cause of listening. If you like my writing, I'm available for hire. Please send me an Email to discuss your project. View all posts by James McDonall

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