Ding! Ding! Ding!

Nothing gets my husband into a frenzy quite like a newly discovered pee puddle, presented in an offhand manner inside the house by Simone, the bulldog. It can really ruin his day (and frankly, the days of all those around him). It goes without saying that Simone’s day has taken a serious turn for the worse whenever the human father lays eyes on such an egregious error. No doubt new and severe guidelines will now be put in place because of the wayward act. Simone, who has momentarily forgotten the consequences of peeing in the warm, hospitable house, now remembers with canine clarity that the outcome of such carelessness can be quite severe indeed.

Her cozy lounge beanbag, on which too many pee accidents have occurred recently, has suddenly been banished from the house forever! “If she can’t keep from peeing on her favorite cozy spot, she’ll just have to lounge on the hardwood floors,” the distraught king booms. “She’s not a puppy anymore. She’s a TEENAGER DOG and her rebellious behavior has no place in this household!” The father king then proffers a new edict: If the family members are unable to keep a close watch on the dog (for signs of a pee emergency) at any given time, then the family members must be responsible and lead their beloved pet into the crate prison. (No! No cozy blanket can be tucked inside with the dog; she is sure to pee on that too! All must be left barren, cold and uninviting to prevent these inside-the-house pee mishaps.) The dog will stay in the crate during these unwatched periods, as punishment, and to relearn the all-important “pee-happens-outside-only” rule.

Protests from various family members do little to alter the strict course of action that has been put into place. The mother asks feebly, “You’re going to throw out the beanbag? We’ve had it since the older kids were little. We moved it from New Jersey.”

“Yes!” replies the King. Speaking slowly now, so that the mother understands the very serious nature of the situation, “The dog has marked the beanbag! Once the the dog marks it, she’ll do it again and again…unless we take swift action!”

“I think I ignored the last bell* because I had just taken her outside and I thought she had already relieved herself. It’s probably my fault,” the mother admits.

“It doesn’t matter, the dog is old enough now that she should be able to hold it in for hours. She’s acting like a puppy and she’s not a puppy; she’s almost two! She knows better!”

*Long ago, after we first brought our bulldog puppy into our home and began the massive task of housebreaking, we cleverly trained Simone to ding a bell (the kind of bell you might find at the front desk of a hotel lobby) every time she needed to go outside to complete her business. This worked quite well for a long time. So proud were we that our doggie would raise her paw over the button of the bell and ding it, to clearly signal to her human caretakers her need to relieve herself. Truly a shining moment in the careful training of our canine. Lately, however, Simone has been giving a bell warning to get our attention for all sorts of needs. Ding! Doggie would like to have her dinner now. Ding! Doggie would like to go outside for her long walk. Ding! Doggie would like to play fetch or chew the soccer ball on the back deck. Ding! Ding! Ding! The family has grown confused with all the constant dinging, unable to decipher the “Gotta Pee” ding from all the rest. The trick has backfired…and no one is more upset about this latest development than the father!

The family gathers round the kitchen island to discuss these new dog responsibilities and to coordinate various dog babysit schedules into our already hectic daily lives. We complain about the hardships we each must endure because of these new guidelines. The father storms off to conduct research on his laptop computer about effective behavior modification techniques to end dog pee accidents once and for all!

As the royal family disbands to proceed with various activities now that the initial upheaval is slowly dying down, the mother finds the youngest son crouched before the doggie’s cage. The animal inside is panting and wide-eyed. The son pokes his fingers through the holes of the cage door and the dog licks the wiggling fingers feverishly. “Look what you’ve done!” the son scolds. “Dad’s in a really bad mood because you peed. You wrecked my day, bad dog! (Lick, lick, lick.) But I still love you, my cute little Simone.”

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