Constant alert is very exhausting. Last week I was in bed by 7:30 p.m. some evenings. My 10 week old Yellow Lab, Oliver, is now training me to crate him a couple of times during the day to give us both a break from constant surveillance and elimination worries in the house. I do feel an actual thrill in my body when he pees or poops outside and also feel crestfallen when he is momentarily out of sight or earshot and leaves a puddle or pile in the house. Four to eight weeks without an accident is what the “House Training your Puppy” brochure considers success. That’s a whole lot of alert time. The vet suggested I not expose Oliver to areas where other dogs frequent until his vaccinations take hold, so outside we mostly stay in the yard where he picks up bark, pine cones, stones, moss and dirt with his mouth. Except for crate time, surveillance is never ending.
I hadn’t been on a bike ride or walked in the woods for five days but now I use his crate time and just go. In my five days of absence, the wood’s floor was transformed from brown leaf litter to a lush green carpet patterned with white trilliums and yellow shaped bell-like flowers with pointy petals. The tall tree canopy is still devoid of noticeable buds and I suspect that frost from last winter’s severe cold still lingers deep underneath my feet. I wonder what the woods will look like when I can pronounce Oliver housetrained?
What if we all learned early on to take better care of ourselves in intensive situations? I know I would have been a better mother without all the Perpetual Responsibility.