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rant: a few things i've learnt from cleaning up puppy pee

rant: a few things i've learnt from cleaning up puppy pee

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If someone were to pee on my rug after being repeatedly, explicitly told not to, it would at the very least strain our friendship. Unfortunately for me, this dog is unbearably adorable.

It’s 4am and I am trying to negotiate with a dog. My offer is simple: if you pee on the little patch of astroturf (that we paid far too much for considering it’s specifically designed to be pissed on), I will lavish you with treats and praise. His counteroffer is equally compelling: I am already pissing and you have failed.

Brando has been in our house for three weeks, and has ruled our house for three weeks minus 15 minutes. It’s a physical challenge to contain my joy at coming home to him each day. I have to actively remind myself not to speed down the highway just to reach him a little faster. I’ve always had dogs growing up, but they were older rescues. Too old, too stuck in their ways to care what – sorry, had to pause for a moment there because Brando decided to pee in another part of the lounge room.

Usually, were someone to pee on my rug after being repeatedly, explicitly told not to, it would at the very least strain our friendship. Unfortunately for me, this dog is unbearably adorable. Even if I didn’t have freshly rose-tinted lenses, I could see this is an absurdly cute puppy. He looks more like something you would bring home from Build-A-Bear Workshop than the distant descendant of a wolf on the tundra. One flash of literal puppy-dog eyes and I’ve lost the argument.

We had a dog-focused Supernanny visit to tell us all the ways we were bad people doing all the wrong things. There was a lot of talk about canine psychology – a fascinating and detailed subject that’s very hard to take seriously when your lecturer’s leg is being humped by an overexcited cavoodle. But one part really stuck with me: dog anxiety. Did you hear? They make anxiety for dogs now. We’re matching!

Until this session, my understanding was that a puppy’s life is almost entirely about eating, having their belly scratched, and every so often peeing on the carpet while a very, very tired man says something boring in a language they can’t comprehend. What I’ve learnt is that there’s also a complex emotional world one layer deeper than that. Our puppy is trying to comprehend everything around him. He’s trying to understand the rules, this strange new environment, the deeply weird creatures with whom he shares the space. Occasionally – bordering on constantly – this becomes overwhelming. That kind of broke my heart. Even the Platonic ideal of an unconditionally loving, happy-go-lucky creature still feels the terrifying burden of being alive. And having a giant stand over you looking very, very upset while you pee probably doesn’t help matters.

Something I really like about suddenly being responsible for this creature is that it’s a lesson in patience and kindness. I’m reminded daily to think about things from a perspective other than my own. Even when I’m very frustrated, grossed out and trying to dry my foot, I must temper those emotions. Being kind requires active practice. We breathe; we clean up; we show love.

These days, I try to consider how I would like to be treated should I suddenly find myself in the home of a friendly giant. While I can’t be certain a scratch behind the ears, a rub of the belly and a little treat would satisfy all my needs, it would at least be a start. It would be enough to ensure that, were I to pee on the giant’s favourite rug, it would be out of confusion and not a specifically targeted attack. I hope he would understand that.

This life lesson comes straight from the pages of frankie 101. Head here to find your closest stockist, pick up a copy from our online store or subscribe from $59.50.