Friday, November 28, 2014

Diaper report

      Moving is difficult for dogs, it was difficult for mine. 
     The first week in our new place, Pete, the twelve year old puppy with a bad back, barked incessantly whenever I left the house. I could hear him "bark, bark, bark!" as I walked down the street to the grocery store, or around the corner to the bus stop.
     It sounded like he was saying, "Where the fuck are you going? You can't leave me here!" 
     I fed him treats before I left.
     He ignored them.
     I felt terrible. 
     Pete is smart though. After a week he stopped barking and started eating his treats. He knew I would be back.
     Bow, the thirteen year old, who is not as bright or as straightforward as Pete, had a harder time adjusting. 
      Bow didn't bark when I left the house that first week. He paced. He whined a little. He curled in a ball and tried to sleep. His anxiety developed more fully over the next several weeks when I started my job and was away from home for longer periods of time. Bow expresses his anxiety volumetrically through his bladder. He can pee a lot. 
     Male dog diapers can be purchased at any pet store. They are stretchy, washable, cloth girdles that have a highly absorbent pad in the middle and velcro tabs on either end. They are easy to put on and they make a pleasing velcro rip sound when you remove them. Bow is not embarrased by his diapers. They are bright blue.
     In those first few weeks, my partner and I wrapped Bow in two diapers every time we left the house. We learned quickly that one diaper was not enough. I returned home from work first and Bow's diapers would always be full. 
     I was mad at myself. I was mad at Bow. 
     My partner and I texted each other at the end of our work days. Things like:
     "I'm heading home now."
     "Okay. Hope you had a good day, love. I'll head out in an hour."
     But our nightly texts quickly turned to:
     "Bow peed again."
     "No crap, just pee."
     "Sorry, love. Be home soon. I'll do the laundry tonight."
     "Thanks, babe."
     They continued that way for several weeks:
     "Peed again. Both diapers. Maybe we should take him for longer walks in the AM? Hire a dog walker during the week?"
     "We'll talk about it when I get home."
     We called these nightly texts The Diaper Report. We developed a shorthand:
     "Both diapers?"
     "Sorry love."

     "Peed. One diaper."
     "Early. Both diapers."
     "Peed. Full diapers."

      And it went on that way for over a month. 
     My partner and I washed diapers in the sink, in the washing machine, and in the bath tub. We bought an extra set of diapers. We searched for items of clothing and bedding, aprons and bathroom mats, anything we could convince ourselves needed washing, in order to have an excuse to waste water on washing Bow diapers.
     We told Bow we loved him. We told him he was a good boy. We praised him when he peed outside. We plied him with treats. At first, nothing but staying with him seemed to calm his anxiety.
     But at some point in those first two months, the Diaper Report started to read:
     "No pee!"
     "No way!"
     "Yes way!"
     "Pee free again!"
     "That's four days in a row! Way to go Bow!"
     Bow doesn't  seem anxious when I leave the house anymore. Sometimes, when there's a break in our routine, he pees in his diaper. But I think he has adjusted to his new space and the new routine and our days no longer end with a Diaper Report.