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Luke Passes a Test


My dog Luke and I have had our ups and downs lately, primarily over pooping in the living room, but today he passed a test: being outdoors without a leash and not running away.

I’m very pleased, because the boy needs to be able to run at his own pace, which is faster than my walk.

You should see him when he comes tearing into the kitchen from the living room at full gallop; he slides across the floor, screeching to a halt just like a cartoon character. He makes me laugh.

He’s a terrier; he’s got to run. But like any new doggie-dad, I’ve been cautious about letting him loose. Does he know where home is? Will he come back? What will I do if he just runs off?

I mean, he likes his suppertime but still, you never know what an animal’s going to do.

I want him to be able to stay in our yard when I’m outside. This is important for the whole Side Porch Experience when it’s warm out, because that’s where I entertain. It’s also important for his peace of mind, I think, because he doesn’t have enough to occupy him so far.

I took him out the porch door this afternoon; that’s unusual. We usually walk out the back door, but I’ve been trying to get him accustomed to the side door and the porch, too. So we left that way, went down the steps for our walk, then back up the steps when we were finished; and there I took off his leash while I straightened up a few furnishings that had blown over in the wind. Ten days ago, when I first got him, he wasn’t very good with steps; he’s only about a foot high and he wasn’t used to stairs. But today once I let him loose, he scrambled down the stairs, ran a circuit around the house, returned to the backyard, sat to look at me—and came when I called him. “Good boy!”

He loves being outside. And I want to be able to take him there without having to watch him every minute. The good news is that he does understand where home is; this is his territory.

One other incident: early this morning we encountered That Cat; she lives next door. She’d parked herself by my garage (considering my house as part of her territory, which it isn’t; she’s destructive), and I don’t think she saw Luke or he saw her until they met a few feet apart. She wasn’t moving and he didn’t know what to make of her. He didn’t bark or growl, he was just curious; while she was perched like Judge Judy, “And who might you be?” He took a step closer; she hissed. He pondered a moment, then approached again; she hissed again. From there he started to wander away.

That Cat likes to dig in my flowers and has destroyed several plants the past few years. I use a non-toxic garlic spray to keep her out of my flowerboxes and off my porch furniture. So I wouldn’t have minded at all, since Luke was on a leash, if he’d chased her away forever. Instead she got the upper hand. I had to chase her away instead.

Some watchdog, little man.

But I like that he’s so gentle instead of being hostile. Cats and dogs get along together in millions of homes; how was he to know I don’t like That One?

All in all we’re doing okay; he does like suppertime. Won’t chase a ball if you paid him. Seldom barks. Only chases squirrels he can’t catch. Comes when I call.

Shits in the living room. In other words, he’s about as perfect as I am—not very.

But he knows where home is, and we’re pals.++

Luke Day 2

7 Responses

  1. Maybe now is the time to finally rip out the carpet in the livingroom. Maybe Scott can give you a hand.

  2. You don’t like my carpet?

    The issue isn’t the floorcovering, it’s the poop!

  3. I never said that I don’t like your carpet, but stretching it again was not possible and I think the layer under it is gone.

    I do love the wooden floor in the dining room and hope a same floor is in the living. Poop cleans easier from wood btw… 😉

  4. Does he have a regular poop area to go to? Dogs don´t like to poop in the indiscreet places…they like over and over again places (like in Winter in your backyard too) …my friend in South Bend has four, count em, four big dogs and rarely do they make a mistake inside (it´s usually a little stomach problem or being trapped in a room or overly excited)…my dogs go out every morning around 6:oo A.M…they loved going into the garden (yes they pee sometimes on plants that die as I have two boys and two girls)…they like running behind things to do their pooping…rarely is there a mess but the grounds do have to be picked up regularly…not a problem for me, I´m dog sensitized.

    A tip, try and keep conscentrating on visiting the same outdoor areas for a while…it can be confusing to the dog if there are too many areas explored…same with doors, so they use the same ones and develop their own patterns of behavior…careful with no leads near streets until you are certain your dog won´t run accross a street on a whim.

    Dog thoughts on Wednesday…I went to Bigtown today and went to the eye surgeon…my left eye ought be perfecto and ready for a final operation by April…I´m so happy…I´m healing really well…all is good.

    Happy dogging,

  5. Leonardo, I am carefully considering your suggestions. For instance, when Luke and I are in the car, he always has fresh air.

    Now I’m considering your advice on poop places, which confuses me somewhat. This dog hasn’t even been here two weeks. Do I designate where his poop place is, or does he? I tried to, but he doesn’t speak English. It does make sense that it should always be in one area in the yard, as dogs are creatures of habit, but he doesn’t go on command. I have all kinds of questions but I don’t find the online advice detailed enough. I don’t know that I have a “run behind place” for him to do his business. How do I make my yard discreet and comfortable, so that when it’s time this ceases to be an issue? It’s just a normal smalltown yard without a fence, plenty of bushes and trees but none he’s grown attached to.

    We tried something different this morning. I fed him before I took him outside. That worked well. Yesterday I did the opposite, and had to take him outside a second time immediately after he ate. (But it worked.)

    I feed him twice a day on a regular schedule; does that mean he’s going to poop twice a day? I’m surprised, but none of the websites I’ve seen answers such a basic question.

    This much I can report: he likes his food. He seems to like me. He loves his little crate with the red blanket that matches his collar. He likes his chewbone and the one-eyed toy cat. He doesn’t understand “ball.” He loves to run – and I think he defines “outside” as “run time,” not poop time. He never pees in the house, but outside he pees a dozen times on our walk.

    During downtime indoors, he loves to snooze in the sunshine. He’d rather be by himself downstairs if I’m not interacting with him, rather than come upstairs to hang out in my vicinity. And I’m fine with that.

    At times he strikes me as fearful, a bit unsocialized; early this morning we encountered little kids at a school bus stop and he wasn’t sure what to do. Just a minute earlier we ran into a very big dog running loose in a yard; Luke was stimulated but not scared, and the other dog didn’t get agitated at all, so we just moved on.

    My little guy’s more curious than anything else; he really is a gentle boy. If another dog gets territorial, he does get a little aggressive, but mostly I think he’s just having fun seeing what and who is in this world. He’s not overstimulated; I confine our walks to a pretty small area.

    The only creatures that need to fear him are the squirrels. We’ve got scads of them here so I do need to keep hold of the leash.

    I never let him near traffic. We don’t have much traffic, but every now and then a car does come by; Luke’s always on his leash.

    There’s so much to do to get him accustomed to being here. Overall I think he’s doing great. I just want to do right by him.

    The biggest thing seems to be that he wants a schedule – which means I have to be on one too, and (as Peter knows) my schedule is the Daily Office (now posted 4x/day!), not the dog’s. I don’t mind being on a schedule, but how do I make these things mesh? I almost wish Luke would announce when he needs to go out, but he’s a quiet little guy. Then I have to watch my step.

  6. Dear Josh,

    It´s just going to take a while to develop a few patterns (of living) that he´ll get the hang of…you know, you probably have some similar ¨patterns¨ yourself (including your bathroom performances)…if a dog is in the house sleeping all night, he´s going to want to pee and poop in the morning…I notice that my dogs scamper out and pee first of all and then are quickly very interested in ¨what´s for breakfast¨ (as if it varied)…then they eat and then they poop (or mostly in that order)…I notice where they poop (of course I would) and it is usually in the same places (sometimes two different dogs in the same places)…so, peeing, pooping, eating are basics and happen about twice a day (in the same places)…dinner at around 5:00 and they LET ME KNOW if I´m occupied and have forgotten…they bother me until I tend to them…ok, I would keep using the same back door for in and out so when the dog wants to ¨go out¨ he´ll go to the door (after he knows the system)…walking the dog is fine and of course, peeing is frequent and pooping too because of the great outside adventure (I don´t walk them here because we have Donkeys, Goats, Cows and Horses that use the street and I don´t know what diseases they may have (although the street sweepers keep the streets very clean with their old fashioned handmade straw brooms)…back to basics…just keep things sort of organized and there will be plenty of free time for you and the dog in between…hope that helps (btw, I swat mine if they get nasty with one another or do something bad)…I also yell if I want to and both of those things keep good order amongst the five dogs ( who all have seperate personalities but have food and outside pooping in common)…dogs don´t like to poop in a obvious place after they find a discreet location (just stand still and wait for him to decide in the back yard)….last night, in bed, I was thinking about your dog situation in Winter with snow…when I lived in Sun Valley, Idaho the snow came up over the windows…in my backyard I started with the first snowfall and made a oval track around the backyard in the snow…I kept shoveling the poop off the oval track and throwing the poop and the snow over the top of the sides…the last winter I lived there the snow was way over my head but I kept shoveling the oval track, the dogs loved the oval track and ran around it…in the Spring the snow melted and there was some major cleaning for me to do…I did it in half a morning (three dogs) and all was well as before hand the poop was frozen and with each new snow I didn´t see it or smell it)…just my own system, you may not have enough snow for that one.

    Cheers, gotta fix dog dinners, it´s time and they are bothering me right Now!

  7. btw, I ONLY HAVE FOUR DOGS, but sometimes for months on end I have a extra when his Mom´s go to the states…he just spent almost three months here but has gone home…he´s adorable and young (not yet a year) but very smart and goes outside for his ¨necessaries¨…he also sleep with me along with one of the other dogs (I have a King Size bed)…the others sleep with Juan Carlos (Queen size bed) and when he and I sleep together the dogs sleep surrounding us on the floor. It´s all very orderly.


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