Thursday, 10 May 2007

Retch, retch: puppy poep all over the house

I have never been able to handle the sight, smell or thought of dogshit. Swollen rat carcasses? No problem. Squishy babies' nappies? Bring 'em on. But show me (or even drop a hint to me about) a dog turd on the lawn (even one that's been thoroughly crisped in the sun and looks like a piece of droë wors) and I'll be dry-heaving for hours.

I think this is genetic. My sisters also make elaborate retching noises at the vaguest hint of doggie-doo. Or it might be the fault of my friend Muriel, who told me during her first pregnancy that warm dogshit smells exactly like freshly brewed Nescafé (and it does).

Fist-fights regularly break out in our house about who's going to get the pooper-scooper and collect the landmines that accumulate (mountains of them every week) in the garden. (I'm afraid the teens usually lose these fights and are marched at gunpoint into the garden carrying Pick 'n Pay packets... 'Sorry for you, dude,' I tend say to them. 'Pick it up, or you're gated until you die.')

So how the hell am I supposed to deal with a new puppy who, after just four days after arriving in our family, is poeping all over the house? And these aren't neat, sweet little cocktail sausages - we're talking fluffy, porridgey, mustard-coloured extravaganzas.

It got so bad yesterday that I took the poor little pooch to the vet, who informed me, to my horror, that she was in poor condition, hadn't been fed properly, had a worryingly distended stomach and was in need of some proper start-up nutrition and a thorough deworming. He wanted to know if I'd got her from a 'reputable' breeder, and I admitted, with some shame, that we'd found her in Junkmail.

Anyway, she's now been switched to proper, expensive, melamine-free puppy food (yes, I succumbed, and I take back everything I said about profiteering by vets) and I am assured that the size and splendour of her thrice-hourly poeps will gradually diminish. (Apparently supermarket food is stuffed with unnecessarily bulky fillers which, well... let's say dogs who eat Bobtail definitely Got It All this morning).

Good enough, but how do I house train her? I've tried taking her out for a walkabout (I did at least 12 of these today, and one at 4 am this morning), to no avail. She gambols around outside for ten minutes, then comes inside and makes a beeline for a kelim, on which she merrily craps. (And because carpets like that are so richly patterned, I usually feel it squishing coldly through my toes before I actually see it).

Are puppies like cats? Do they appreciate and understand the concept of a special toilet area, like a cat box, or a sheet of newspaper? And how is poor Coco ever going to learn how to go outside when every single external door in our house is double-locked, day in and day out?

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