February 11, 2011

Puppy Parenting Fail

For any of you weekend readers out there, you get to hear how the puppies' first night home alone went.

First off, Thursday was a little nightmarish in terms of housetraining. One dog was sick and hardly wanted to go at all, so I would forget to "check" and see if he needed to go outside; the other has picked up on the concept pretty well but is still testing his limits and seeing if there really isn't any place in the house he is allowed to go potty. (And he's learning, no, there isn't.)

Anyway, they required a lot of supervision (plus, Jeb feeling poorly and wanting to cuddle all day) so I got literally nothing done that I wanted to: the dishes, vacuuming. I only barely got a shower because I jumped in as soon as they went down for their late afternoon nap - just to get out and see Achilles pottying in the entryway as soon as he sees me come in the room. *sigh* He's the rebellious younger brother, for sure.

Anyway, I get it and me cleaned up and I'm not rushing to get ready since SoldierMan was supposed to get home early (it's Thursday at Ft. Bliss) and help with the puppies. When he did get home, he only had a few minutes to play with the dogs before he gets a text from one of the other PLs in his unit: we had to be there about a half an hour earlier than we were planning. Which meant we had to leave in 10 minutes!!

Neither one of us was changed, I'm just glad I had already put my makeup on. It was a mad dash to feed the puppies and take them outside and pray hard they went potty before we brought them inside. No such luck, of course, but we had to try.

Rather than close them in one of the (carpeted) bedrooms, we decided to leave them in the main living area, which is tiled, and close all the doors. We knew either way there would be a cleanup job when we got home, but tile is much more easy to clean than carpet.

So, we're running around the house to leave and I'm frustrated from the day's events and stressed about getting out of the house on time. We pick up some friends for the dinner, which wound up taking an hour to get to because asdoherlnaosidaosdlskernlaka (censored comment about how special events always get scheduled on the far other side of town).

We hung out there until 9:00 and had a grand old time talking and laughing and eating good food and drinking overpriced Cokes. :)

An evening out with friends was just what I needed. Being home alone most of the day with the puppies is a great bonding experience but I had gotten stressed out with the whole housetraining thing. I've never, ever had a dog before, so I'm a total puppy n00b. But by the time we got home, we were both relaxed and on a high wave of good emotion.

Until we got home.

We pulled in the garage and opened the door to come inside - and it was pitch black. For a second I thought, "How did the puppies turn off the lights?" And then (of course) it hit me - we forgot to turn the lights on before we left!

This house has so many windows that I usually just live by natural light until sunset. So neither one of us noticed the lights were off when we left earlier. And we had been gone several hours after dark. The poor puppies had been left alone in a dark house. I felt sick.

Then we turned on the light. Thankfully, none of the furniture or electronics had been harmed. No woodwork had been scratched. But we had forgotten to take out a bag of garbage sitting by the back door before we left. So guess what happened? And not to mention the insane potty minefield the puppies had left us (no doubt due to the trauma of being left alone in the dark).

We knew beforehand we weren't going to punish them for anything they did while we were gone, since it's ineffective to punish a puppy after-the-fact. They don't realize what they're being punished for. And even though our livingroom looked like a disaster area, neither one of us could feel the least bit put-out with them. We felt horrible. Leaving the lights off and leaving garbage out - that's our fault, not theirs for getting into it or making messes with no one there to stop them.

We hugged it out for a few minutes before starting the damage control. We had the place clean again in about 15 minutes (I really think I've literally scrubbed this floor from end-to-end with my bare hands, now). And we sat on the floor with them and just cuddled for a while. I just couldn't stop beating myself up. SoldierMan reminded me that, if they can't remember not to try and jump on the couch when we told them not to only 3 minutes ago, they probably won't remember this for long, either. And that's probably true.

And, he said, it was good for us to leave so they could "learn" that even if we are gone for a while - like several hours or half a day - we are coming back and we still love them. That's true, too.

They forgave us pretty quickly, which is the nice thing about dogs. (In general, I prefer cats, but a cat probably still wouldn't be speaking to me.) Forgiven, but not forgotten. Achilles looks for SoldierMan in our bedroom and bathroom in the morning when he's at work and whines. And if I take a step away from the livingroom rug, Jeb is at my heels. I don't even need to look. :)

Anyway, that was our major puppy parenting fail this week. However, it makes me optimistic for leaving them to go to church tomorrow. As long as we remember to take the garbage out, we should be okay. :)


  1. I've totally forgotten the light before when Bear was a new pup. He's crate trained though so he just cried and went to sleep. At least they had each other {and the trash is just a learning experience :) } Sounds like you're doing pretty good at this new dog owner thing if you ask me!

  2. At least you realize when it is your fault and when it is theirs, and also that discipline doesn't work unless they are caught in the act!! Not everyone is as smart as you ;-)

    I don't worry too much about leaving lights on, but I like to leave toys and stuff for the dogs to do...although now that they are older I think they mostly sleep when we are gone. I did see a study recently that concluded that dogs DO understand the concept of time...I never realized that people thought they didn't and justified leaving them alone all day with that excuse. Do you have kongs for them?? That is a time consuming toy!!

  3. When Jack was a puppy, he was a disaster to clean up after and keep an eye on. When we left the house, we put him in a crate , because usually dogs won't mess a small space. It worked pretty well for him, now it's his comfort zone.

  4. When Balak and Murray were puppies and we left them unattended one evening, they ate a vcr. I'm not exaggerating. The little boogers pried the top metal piece off and ripped apart the inside. We had to go on an emergency run to the vet. Thankfully they were fine and I think it was way more traumatic for me than for them.


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