Friday, August 12, 2011

Mary piddle problem

Our redbone coonhound, Mary, is a very lazy dog.

(You must say "redbone coonhound" with a southern accent, adding extra vowels throughout, to get it right.)

This is no great surprise, indeed only natural, given her sad life story.

She's a former hunting dog that we rescued one winter's day from St Mary's Wilderness in VA. She had either become lost on a hunt or her former owner had had abandoned her. She was starving, skeletal, and had well-healed bite marks that could only have been made by a bear. She was hanging around the trail head, and when we climbed out of our rental car to go for a hike, she followed us up the trail, refusing to leave us be, and so we took her.

She probably knew we were her last chance.

A trip to the vets and a plate or two of dog food saw her quickly on the road to recovery. We were surprised to see what happened next. We gave her a temporary bed in my in-laws house. She took to it like a fish to water, and has seldom gotten out of bed since.

Mary sleeps almost all day, every day.

Almost immediately after arriving at our home in Maine, she took to Aimee's "papa san" bamboo couch, and now spends at least 12-16 hours of every day there. Her day bed is on the porch, where this time of year, she spends all but thirty minutes of her remaining 23 1/2 hours.

Occasionally, she will sleep on the lawn.

In bug season or when the snow cover is deep, when dog walks are unpleasant or impossible, a maximum of about thirty minutes of her day is spent not sleeping. The rest of the year she gets a forty-minute walk once or twice a day. It takes her about five minutes to eat, and she occasionally will have a roll on the lawn or a stretch.

That's it, all she wrote -- her entire life.

The rest of that half-hour, especially in bug season is spent with me, trying to get her to piddle outside. There's a routine, of course, as there always must be with dogs, especially rescue dogs, to keep them content.

The routine goes like this:

Between 2 and 4pm: Mick comes home from work or from working in the yard, and feeds Mary and Haggis. In season the dogs may get a one-mile walk.

After eating, Mary goes back to bed on the porch.

About 6.30pm, after Mick eats his own supper and lets both dogs in the house.

Mary goes straight to bed on the "papa san."

About 9pm or 9.30, Mary is made to go out and piddle.

Mary goes straight back to bed on the papa san.

About 6.30 or 7am, Mick takes Mary and Haggis out to piddle before going to work. In season, the dogs get a one-mile walk.

Mary goes straight back to bed on the porch, where she remains all day until dinnertime.

And that's it. No more, no less, the entire life of a Mary-dog.

She seems content with it: enough food and clean water, her own private bed, and no bears, that's all she asks for. A simple life.

But lately I've been waking up and coming downstairs each morning to find a massive great pool of Mary-piddle on the kitchen floor.

She's not incontinent. She just doesn't want to piddle outside. She may not be piddling before she goes to bed. Some of the time she may get kicked out at 9 or 9.30 and forget to do so.

I routinely go out with her and Haggis at bed-time to make sure they do have time to piddle, but now it seems I have to start checking up one her with the flashlight. That's a little annoying.

The second remedy is to drag her out of bed at 4 am each morning and take her out to piddle then. You have to physically remove her from the papa san. She will not get up of her own accord, not that early. Understandably, I've been reluctant to do this, but I'm getting tired of piddle on the floor.

Poor Mary.

But poor Mick, having to clean up piddle before I've even had a cup of coffee.

Dragging her out of bed is quickly beginning to seem the lesser of two evils.

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