The Answer Is In The Training

Mar 25, 2019by tracey Comments

One of my favorite quotes comes from the composer and diarist Ned Rorem.  It’s been one of my main mantras since I first read it decades ago.

The answer is in the waiting.

It’s kind of all right there.  It’s be here now. It’s if you are still you will know. If you have to wait too long the answer is likely no.

In my dysfunctional dating decade, I used it as a way of measuring if someone was going to hang around. It’s kind of a one size fits all quote.

Well, this week at our house the answer is in the training.

I first off want to thank all of you who wrote in after my Wally blog.   So many of you shared your stories and those of people you knew who had dogs with issues. And there are so many more than you think. Or I thought. And yesterday there was even an article on the topic in the Boston Globe.

The Wally update is – he is still with Rick and I am still figuring it all out.

But around here –  I learned something this week, I learned why I never trained my dogs. Because it is so much damn work.

I’ve always had them and I ‘ve also always added more into the mix saying two is no more work than one, three no more than two, hey we have three what’s four?
Well, sure, if you don’t train them and they run around barking, chewing through doors, beds, dining room chairs, carpet, yes I have had dogs do all of that, then one or two more is hardly noticeable.

If they pee sometimes on the mat, sometimes on the rug, sometimes out the doggie door, kind of a peeforall if you will – that was my life.  And I must say both my husbands have been very patient about it.

If I wore a tool belt it would have a big bottle of Nature’s Miracle and some rags to do a quick pee removal.

But all of that has changed, as I learned when it comes to dogs when you are loose on one or two rules you really can’t suddenly be strict on others.

It’s not like with kids.  You can have wine with dinner but stay away from hard drugs.  You can smoke pot, but don’t drive when you do.

You can’t say to a dog, you can pee where you want but don’t bark every time the doorbell rings.  You can chew on my old sweaters, but please don’t touch my shoes.  They don’t get it.

Despite a lifetime of dogs and a lifetime of trainers for some reason, Rick is the first one I really listen to.  I guess because the stakes are so high.

For instance, I don’t believe in crating dogs.  It always felt like jail to me. The whole dog world believes in it, but I stood firm no crates. People even say dogs like crates. They go in on their own.

I also did not like walking them much.  I don’t mind once or twice a day. Who am I kidding I don’t even love that?   But I have small dogs and if people did not use wee wee pads why would they sell so many?  But dogs who go on pads have a hard time distinguishing between carpet and the pads.  I have the stains to prove it.

Before we could bring them home Rick said to get this blacklight flashlight that will highlight the enzymes left behind from their years of going where they wanted.  Kata and I thought that was silly at first, but then I said no if we are going to do this we are going to do it right. So we got the light. We found enzymes well, you don’t want to know how many we found and where.  We then bought a Bissell machine – godsend. If you want clean carpets a great investment. We are now enzyme free.

But the real change is in our daily life.  After four days with the new rules and the two dachshunds, I feel like I have given birth to triplets.

I like to work hard, but I like pages at the end of day. I like books and films with my name on them. I like being in the zone. Helping people.  An enzyme-free rug – I don’t know. That never fell into my things to work for list.

I get up early. I’m not a slacker. But I like to ease into my days. Whoever gets up first brings the other coffee. Then I sit in bed and ponder the day ahead, I might do my journaling, I scroll through the news.

The dogs would not be walked in the morning. They had their wee wee pads or the carpet depending on their mood. They got their morning cookies for no reason other than we love them. A reward for a good morning pee was not part of the program.

When the kids were around there was a different order.  If I had to be up by seven for them I would get up at six thirty just so I had that half hour of morning me time.  But it’s been seven years since they’ve needed my help in getting their days going.

I have always gone to the gym first thing in the morning.   If I don’t do it then it might not get done. So after I come to life, I head for the gym.

I am blessed I have had someone to help me with the house since Taylor was born almost 28 years ago. I was always a working mother and it was cost effective to have someone do things so I could work. I know I am very lucky in that respect. So, the dogs would wait to be fed until someone got here to feed them and then they would get a walk, sometimes unless it was bad weather which in New York it is all the time.

Then my day is my day. Office, work, writing, lunch, errands, cooking dinner, a lecture –  whatever.  Let’s just say walking the dogs never entered into my routine. Maybe on the weekends but not always. I never came home and said let’s go to the park guys. In fact, walking dogs does not give me that much pleasure. I like to watch TV with them. I like them on my feet while I eat. I like the love and affection.  I am selfish I guess.

But, I loved them. I cared for them. Every dog I have ever had has lived to be ancient.  And I’m sure they were happy.  They never complained. Though the neighbors did.

Now- the second we wake up one of us takes them out.  Out for those of you who don’t live in apartments in big cities means dressed, down an elevator and out onto a busy street. It’s not opening the back door while remaining in your robe. Glenn puts on suit pants, a sweater, and proper shoes. I tuck my nightgown in some sweatpants and throw whichever coat is closest to me and go.

It’s kind of like the coffee thing and whoever is walking them makes the coffee for the other. The languishing in bed mornings are over. Which kind of sucks.

If they don’t go on the walk it’s back in the crate and they can’t come out until we walk them again.

Luckily they usually go in the morning.  Except for this morning, Wednesday was on pee strike. In fact, she was on outdoor pee strike for 18 hours.  This resulted in 10 useless walks with me getting increasingly frustrated.

She is confused. She might be mad. Why did I suddenly change the rules?  She liked having the run of the house and peeing when and where she wanted. Hey, I liked staying in bed until eight and not roaming the hood at one in the morning. I think we are both a little peeved.

Last night it was so bad and I was so obsessed with the fact she wouldn’t pee, I made Glenn pause Bodyguard in the last twenty minutes so I could try again and take her out of the crate where she had been since six pm.

If you have not seen Bodyguard I will not spoiler alert it for you but the last 20 minutes of the final episode is not the place you want to ask someone to pause so you can go fight with your dog in front of the building.

They have to spend at least two hours a day in a down-stay. This means I tell them to lie down and stay and they don’t move. Winnie is in one now right next to me. They usually turn them into naps but they are not allowed to move until I tell them to. This often means I need to be in one room with them for at least an hour two or three times a day. It’s doable and we do it.  But this morning I left her with Glenn in one and he left the room and she left the room and I lost it.

Glenn, like the dogs, is used to coming and going as he pleases. I can’t blame him. He has earned the right and he pees where he is supposed to.  He should be able to leave the room without me telling him to down-stay. I’m working on it.

They must spend at least two hours a day in their hard crates away from us so they learn how to self-soothe and not bark like lunatics. This is a tough one. And I usually pick this time to leave the house.

They need to be recrated after meals until it’s time to go out for that hopeful evacuation or if it does not happen it’s back to the crate. Which makes me feel like a jailer and that they won’t love me and all the other issues regarding discipline/love I have carted around my whole life.

Yesterday Winnie had all her free times. Wednesday had almost none and the less free time she had the more she refused to pee. Then I feel like they will get resentful of each other.  Rick tells me I impose too many human emotions on dogs.

It boils down to they cannot be alone in the house unless they are in the crate as apparently, they will go back to their old ways. Which I found out is true.

I got up in the middle of the night and when I got back into bed I said: “move over Winnie.” MOVE OVER WINNIE???

What was Winnie doing in our bed? I had tucked them into their sleeping crates at one am when we finally finished Bodyguard. How did she get out? Turns out I did not zip the bottom all the way as I was so upset by Wednesday not peeing.

Then this morning while Glenn was out begging Wednesday to pee, with no luck I might add, I found little gifts from Winnie on the floor in her old spots.  Enzyme removal time!

We will keep going. We will make this work. I am very focused as I know – the answer is in the training and in this case, Rick told me it would take six months to really have them all squared away.  So back to the wisdom of Ned Rorem ~ the answer is in the waiting.


Winnie demonstrates a perfect down-stay.

She’s down and she’s staying,  Like give her a break. Ya know.

Peering out of the sleep crate

Wednesday enjoying some well earned freedom by sleeping next to my desk.