Caution: adult language ahead!
“Should I yell at her when she poops in the house?” I asked the twenty-something with word trainer in white block print on the back of his brown T-shirt.
“You want her to give you a signal, right?”
“You want to learn to read the signal she gives you, okay?”
“You don’t want her to think there’s something wrong with going potty or to hide it form you do you?”
I also don’t want 11-week-old Ella to keep shitting on my living room carpet after I’ve taken her out three times. However, that’s exactly what she’s doing and with alarming regularity.
“What do you do when she goes outside?” he asked.
“Say good girl. I don’t give her a treat or anything,”
Who gets a prize for not taking a dump on the carpet? Do you get a sticker for not hitting the toilet seat?
Those were my “inside thoughts.”
I lost my right to share my views by virtue of the fact that I was at chain pet store’s potty training your puppy class with a kid who looked like he was in high school. Unlike menopausal me, he had never trained a human to use a toilet, as I have done, but there I was.
“Ignore her when she goes inside and give her a good treat and lots of love when she goes outside,” he said. “You want her to think, ‘poop inside and nothing happens or poop outside and get a party.”
Makes sense. Sounds logical. It’s easier and kinder than yelling.
If it works I’ll have to learn how to make a puppy amends.
“Nothing is worse than smelling it and not being able to find it,” trainer man added.
Agreed, I thought feeling pretty bad about my mid-flow “No. NO. NO!” to Ella. I was tired of going through fifty nine rolls of paper towel each day.
But having failed at reading Ella’s cues I shamed instead of trained. Feeling ineffective had made me a jerk. The self-loathing was rising up at the pet store as the trainer kid was guiding Ella down as she jumped.
Here’s what I know and had forgotten:
Shame never helps. Hiding shit doesn’t work. Not for puppies. Not for people.
We all have a shadow or a new-to-the world puppy side or need to learn or fall on our face.There is never a no-shit option. This goes for everyone.
Sure, it’s not all the same shit at the same time we are dealing with. Some have Great Danes with explosive diarrhea and others poop tiny Yorkie pellets. Some have complicated grief and others simple stress.
But it’s a hassle to step in any of it and it will be stepped in and through. It’s not the type or amount that matters only how the shit gets handled.
These are the actual options:
1. Hide the shit.
2. Deal with the shit.
Never have any shit?
Hope crap never comes?
Those options don’t exist.
They don’t even make the list.
The same goes for personal shit.
Shit happens. Shit is going to get real. Always. Predictably. Sometimes daily.
Remember: The shit itself isn’t the problem. Ignoring it, leaving it for someone else to clean up or hiding it creates the most foul of stank.
Trying to create a shit-free life isn’t possible or effective at doing anything except creating a cranky, inflexible control freak (or that would be me). It’s actually easier to clean up messes fast and handle issues right away—you know—prevent the stains before they set.
And even as I write this I do and will forget.
But then I’ll remember again because it’s bumper sticker simple.
Shit happens. So when shit gets real I’m going to ask myself the following questions.
Do I want to:
be prepared or pissed off?
share or shame?
be honest or blame?
Can I learn to read Ella’s cues better and get exasperated and annoyed less? Accidents happen. Ella is giving me chances to practice these lessons and to get more graceful while frustrated. I’m going to clear the air with odor neutralizer, reflection and conversation. I’m getting more paper towel and patience.
Isn’t it a relief to realize that it’s not how much or what kind of shit we have? It’s who and how we are and if we choose to learn that matters most when shit gets real which it always has, does and will.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Christine Cissy White
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: courtesy of the author