65: Well Trained

65: Well Trained

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Well Trained

Fun fact: If your dog urinates in the house, it’s important to give the spot a thorough cleaning or he may use the same place as a toilet again.

Olivia was hard to house-train. Having grown up with Golden Retrievers, I was used to dogs that pretty much trained themselves and usually did so within a day of arriving at our house.

Not so with our darling Terrier-Hound mix. Olivia came to us from a rescue. She and the rest of her litter were abandoned in a drainpipe, and she had a stomach infection, mange and worms, so she didn’t have an easy start.

But even after she became healthy, she was reluctant to go outside. She would look up at me with her big, long-lashed brown eyes as if to say, “Why do you want me to go there when there are perfectly good spots inside?” I learned, from our trainer, that Terriers have a bit of a stubborn streak, but once they learn something, they learn it well.

Finally, I resorted to umbilical-cording her, or rather, tying her leash around my waist so that wherever I went, she went. If I caught her crouching, I would rush her outside to the designated spot and praise her for doing such a good job. Once she got the motions of going outside, I had to learn to recognize her cues.

Some dogs bark or scratch or ring a bell by the door. I had to catch Olivia’s almost disdainful glance at the door. But I am a quick learner, and she is a solid, though slow learner. Eventually, we got the hang of things — so much so that my husband and I prided ourselves that she would only go in one section of the yard. It was a very tough, but valuable trick for her to learn, but learn it, she did.

It was all well and good until we decided to throw a party one summer, and my husband wanted to build a bar right on the edge of her spot. “What about Olivia’s spot?” I asked.

“Oh, we’ll just walk her these two days before the party, and I’ll take it right down afterward,” he assured me.

I thought that was it.

Olivia thought otherwise.

That night, she — who hadn’t had a single accident since she learned how to go outside — left a present for my husband under his favorite chair in the living room. “I’m sure it’s just a coincidence,” my husband told me. “After all, we were out late getting ready for the party.”

Another day passed in a flurry of party preparations. Olivia was watching. When the bar remained in her spot, she left another present for him.

But this time, it was smack-dab in the middle of his pillow. She had to have really worked at delivering this directly to him, and I’m pretty sure it was quite deliberate since I had a bunch of clothes tossed on my side of the bed, and not an item of mine was touched.

The next year, my husband set up the bar in a different part of the yard.

The moral? Don’t ever mess with a dog’s special spot.

~Jeanette Hurt

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