I’ve been posting a lot about dogs on here this week (and over on the Baddest Mother Ever Facebook page …check it out for funny stuff!) and today’s story continues the theme.  

When G and I found out that our second baby was a boy, I called Daddy to share the news.  The first thing he said, being a retired veterinarian, was “Oooooh–they are HARD to housebreak.”

He was not lying.  

I’ve trained a puppy or two in my day and you would think that housebreaking either species would have some parallels. Here are how my lessons from puppy training have…er…helped me with getting Carlos to use the potty:  

“Using a crate is an effective way to keep your puppy contained in a safe and comfortable space while training.  A puppy will not soil its bedding.”

On Thursday morning, Carlos jumped into bed with me…naked, chilly and a little stinky.  He still sleeps in a crib and a diaper, so arriving in that state took some doing.  You can only imagine what I found in HIS bed.  Yeah, this puppy’s got noooo problem soiling his bedding.  I bundled everything up and did a pre-dawn load of laundry–on scalding hot with two scoops of detergent and some Borax–that included a sheet, a monkey quilt, fire truck footie pajamas, two stuffed dinosaurs and a copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  Poor Brown Bear.  God only knows what he saw.

It’s all about positive reinforcement.  Don’t punish mistakes–reward successes!

OK, so the books say your potty-training child will be more aware of his body if he’s naked.  I turned up the heat to 75 and let Carlos run around all jaybird while I fixed breakfast.

Which led to me saying–in well-modulated and positive tones–“OH!  We don’t pee in the kitchen, sweetie!  We go to the POTTY!”  I put him on the potty for 10 minutes but strangely enough, he no longer needed it.

clean it upAs I was cleaning up the kitchen floor, Carlos strode up in his naked glory.  He pointed to the pile of paper towels and Clorox and said, “Yucky.”  Yeah, thanks for the clarification, Daniel Webster.

Only play with your puppy once he has done his business outside!  It will be a while before he needs to go again.

I figured the high pressure lights on Engine 1 and Engine 2 had been cleared at this point so I left Carlos in the den watching PBS Kids while I took a shower–hot, with Borax.  Seven minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom to find him seated atop Huck’s dog crate.  He was somehow covered in poo AGAIN yet still watching Super Why.  “Let-teh P!” he squealed and pointed to the TV.  I was ready to cry, and already late for work.letter p

Persistence and patience are the key.

He flailed about and screamed at me for showering him off, but I won that one.  Once he was sparkling clean again, I went to his room to fetch clothes and a pair of those super motivational Thomas the Tank Y-fronts.  You know how they say to buy some special underwear that your kid will want to keep clean?  Right.

That was when I found it.  Ground Zero.  

Picture–if you will–these items:  a pile of poo, two pieces of sidewalk chalk, and a set of louvered closet doors…formerly painted white.   Now repainted in a “natural” tone.  The closet door was the canvas, the sidewalk chalk the brush.  The paint?  Well, my little artist had really expressed himself.  Happy little trees, happy little trees…

893218_10201732301022300_1983462696_oWhile I was cleaning THAT, he went back to the den to ride the floor lamp in his Y-fronts and blue socks, like some tiny conventioneer on a bender in Vegas.  I shit you not.  

If all else fails, call in a professional.

I slapped a diaper on him and transported him to school, where they know how to deal with this.  And wouldn’t you know it…his pants stayed dry ALL DAY.  When I got him undressed that night, it was like that crazy-ass Thomas the Tank Engine was mocking me.  

I know we’ll get through this.  I know it will all work out.  This is what love looks like some days–tending to another person.  

Even their reckless effluvia.  

12 thoughts on “Housebreaking

  1. Chris Antenen

    Reckless efluvia ought to work for my IBS too. If you ever show this to Wes, you’re dead. Hard to train, stubborn, and possessive. Turned out pretty damned good, though.

    Remember when Sears had a toy department every year in the basement? Kids loved to go, right? You felt safe, closed in, if you just watched the stairway outta there. Wes must have been 2 1/2 (yes he was late training. So late that his day care teacher would say to him. “Meet me at the changing table.”) We were, Amy, Wes, and I, ambling through, aisle by aisle, taking our time — and in an instant he was gone. I’ve never been so scared in my life. We went through the loud speaker announcement with description, the closing of all outside doors to the store, clerks searching everywhere, and as usual Amy trying to calm down her hysterical mom. We called her ‘Other Mother.’

    In the toy department, almost out of my mind, I looked, and for the first time paid attention to, double doors leading from the toy section to the rest of the basement. Oh, yes, he did.

    Seems the doors had been opened briefly and closed. He was fast. (His baseball team benefited from stolen bases later.) We found him very happy, sitting up on a bright, red real tractor — with his pants full. I probably didn’t enter Sears again for, oh, maybe a year.

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