Dogs will be dogs

Mind Your Pees and Qs

By Dottie Rockel

In March Don and I adopted a male dog, albeit a neutered one, from the Animal Rescue. Whatever inclinations that surgery might have done away with, marking his territory wasn’t among them.

Possum, as closely as anyone could figure, is a small terrier-beagle mix. He weighs about 30 pounds. He has a terrible overbite and his teeth don’t meet so, in spite of his ferocious bark, he has nothing to back it up with. He is otherwise adorable and a good companion for our 86 pound German Shepherd Frances until she starts to bat him around like a piñata.

Marking your territory while you are outside is somewhat annoying. On our morning walks in the park Possum stops every ten yards or so to mark. Rather than enjoy a nice fluid walk, we stop and go so frequently in a herky jerky way that it resembles a practice session on Dancing With the Stars far more than an attempt to exercise.

I’m much more concerned, however, over his need to mark in our house. I first saw him squirt our Christmas tree when I took it out of the utility closet so the electrician could get to the fuse box. Then I started noticing the telltale signs of his indiscretions in other places around our house.

Possum is hard to scold because he cowers if you chide him. I’ve tried the “No, no, Possum. You mustn’t do that.” route to no avail so I knew I needed a sterner approach. I went to Petco and a man sold me a bottle of stuff guaranteed to keep a dog from going in the house. “You need to use a lot of it.” he said, so I did. I hurriedly sprayed it any place that he had ever peed or might consider peeing in the future. I applied generous doses and sat back expecting instant and marvelous results.

The results weren’t so good. Possum continued with his problem. In fact it seemed to be getting worse and we were about to leave town. I wrote out the usual list instructions for the dog sitter, Susan. At the end of it I nonchalantly added, “And by the way, we’ve been having a little issue with Possum marking in the house but I have put lots of spray around to discourage him. Here’s some more if you need it.”

When I called to see how Susan was getting along with the dogs, she said that Possum was peeing everywhere. Then she asked why I was spraying this stuff all over the place since the label said it encourages your dog to relieve himself wherever you spray it. She couldn’t be serious! What had I bought? What had I done? Hadn’t the Petco man said it would stop him from going in the house? It never occurred to me that in order to do that I would have to spray it outside.

I felt as though I had been enabling an alcoholic. “You say you want to pee on my Christmas tree, Possum? Well here let me give you all the encouragement I possibly can. In fact let me direct you to it in case it might have slipped your mind that you even wanted to pee on it and you might have actually considered going outside. Oh, it’s back in the closet, you say? How inconsiderate of me. Well here, let me get it out for you.”

I am now the proud owner of a scruffy terrier mix with an overbite and a snarky personality that I have perfectly trained to pee all over my house. Susan has said she is thinking of retiring and I would hate to think that in some small way I might have contributed to that decision.

Return to home page.

Visit Dottie's web site about therapy dogs.