Susanna Salk


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House Trained
Thursday, December 8th, 2016

I should have seen it coming. Two new rugs in our bedroom. Three dogs. You see already where this is headed and yet you continue to perhaps read with the same faith I possessed upon buying them and believing that their integrity would remain intact. (The rugs, not the dogs.) “You got shag ones,” my husband pointed out to me as though I had been blindfolded and forced to purchase them at gunpoint. “They think it’s grass.” And while he definitely wasn’t defending them, (the dogs not the rugs) he was reiterating- the way you do to someone who continues to walk into a glass door- that the plush-like feel of our rug was inspiring our dogs to pee with abandon as though we were living like a frontier family out on the open plains of the Wild West. Our dogs are house trained. And I’ve sen them hold it in for great lengths of time. I’ve walked miles in the cold, hard rain, encouraging them to let it fly but they won’t stop for a beat. After driving all the way home I tuck myself into my sun-filled bedroom which doubles as my office and suddenly, like it’s intermission at a Cats matinee, the dogs scamper in after me and treat each square like its their own stall and the house lights are flickering urging them to hurry back to the show.
“Are you kidding me?!” I’ll often shout and they just look blink at me, defiant yet polite.
I run to the bathroom, grab my designated sponge, spray bottle of trusty “Zero” and get down on my hands and knees and immediately eliminate any smell in hopes they won’t remark. Ironically, this always leaves an even greater wet mark, so that when my husband comes home and dampens his socks walking across the rugs, he inevitably will ask me if the dogs have, yet again, peed upon them.
In the morning, after I feed them and they’ve have a good hour of romping outside (their equivalent of Starbucks) I often come out of the shower to the sight of one of the dogs back on the rugs, mid squat (Tink, the girl) or mid lift, (Cheddar, the male). The worse is when I don’t catch them doing anything at all: they are curled sleeping around me and all is well in the world until….I get a whiff. I know then it has already happened: when I wasn’t looking or left the room, someone squeezed one in. I jump up and grab my bottle and spray (I might as well them around my waist like a tool belt, to be ready at all times or how I even wished for some light saber-like weapon I could simply wave in the air and the spot would magically evaporate) and then get down on my hands and knees and start sniffing to find the exact area of infraction. Sometimes I imagine the dogs quietly snickering to themselves while I, butt in air, have my nose pressed deeply into the synthetic pile sniff like a truffle pig on steroids.
But they would’t do something so premeditative and naughty would they? They are good dogs, wonderful dogs.
I keep returning to my husband’s comment about the grass. My craving for a chic, polished modern rug has triggered a primitive reaction and it is not their fault. So the battle continues, a push-me-pee-you affair that seems to feed on itself ad infinitum. For a short awhile, I thought human research and civilization would be the victors: I would simply out maneuver their moves with my technology (at $30 a bottle from PetSmart) After all, a dog and traveled to the moon but man had built the rocket ship and eventually landed on it themselves.
Then slowly, I could see the shift move in their direction…the rugs, while cleaned to every inch of their fibrous lives, were starting to take on scents that, while not pee, almost smelled as bad as pee. I’d add a dash of expensive cologne to try and cover them, but a third equally offensive smell was then born: a smell that reminded me that my dogs were still peeing.
Today something clicked- no snapped- as I tried to ignore its gushy scents. I suddenly rolled each rug up and pushed them down the stairs. Soon I’d haul them to Goodwill. For now, I enjoyed a brief repose at the top of the stairs. It was over. The dogs clustered around me and we stared at the rugs, as if we were on the prow of a ship and watching our wake float pleasantly behind us.
I suddenly felt a wet mark on my ankle. Tink was licking it affectionately with her tiny pink tongue. I stood up and looked at three tails wagging at me. Then I said “Now: who wants to go for a walk?”