I did something last week that I’ve never done before. I haven’t told anyone. I’m trying to decide how to classify it. I have a compulsive need to analyze things. It’s my special gift. (See how I classified it as a gift instead of a neurosis?) Heck, why sell myself short? I’m also exceptional at rationalization and classification. See, if you have the gift of analysis and rationalization without classification, you’re just on a hamster wheel. That’s no way to live your life.
So back to the new thing I did. Doing something new usually represents a shift, or change, in one’s life direction. Perhaps you’ve faced your fear of heights with a trip to the top of the Empire State Building. Good for you! Or maybe you learned how to knit a blanket for that sweet new baby in your family. Ahhh, way to go. These events would be classified as Positive Changes within the sub-categories of Brave and Meaningful, respectively.
Now I’m no Pollyanna, and I realize that all change isn’t positive. Often first times are a step in the wrong direction. One episode of Dateline’s ‘To Catch a Predator’ will teach you that. Lesser offenses might include lying about your age or wearing sweat pants with text across the seat. It’s a slippery slope, as they say, and I prefer to stay on firm ground whenever possible.
Normally I don’t drag out this process over days like this. For the most part it’s automatic, requiring little conscious effort. Volunteered at the soup kitchen—feels great, I’ll sign up again next month. Tried the new Indian restaurant—feels bad, I won’t be back. For when it’s not so cut-and-dry, I have developed the Oprah litmus test. Let’s say my new adventure lands me as a guest on Oprah. Is the audience on their feet with applause and admiration (and perhaps a little misty-eyed at my touching back-story?) Or is there a specialist of some sort on hand to help me face the truth and get me back on track?
Whatever the outcome, I’ve got to face it and move on. So here it is. Last week I put three Snausages in my underwear. For clarity, Snausages are dog treats. They look like pigs in a blanket except smaller, and the outer, wrap-around part is more orange than bread-colored. These particular Snausages were the beef and cheese flavor. We have a new dog. Not a puppy, but not exactly an adult dog either. The shelter estimated that she is about a year old. She was a stray, and we assume that she was an urban stray because she prefers to do her business on concrete, asphalt, or, in a pinch, wooden decking. We live on over an acre of land, mostly grass, and this dog feels most at home doing her pees and poos on our front porch, back patio, and along the driveway.
So the whole family agreed that a behavior modification plan was necessary, and then the whole family left for school and work, dodging dog bombs until they cleared the mailbox. Except for me. Me and the Snausages. Dogs love Snausages. I know this because we have two other dogs who were molded into socially acceptable canines with the help of these little hors d’oeuvre imposters.
So every time the dogs went out, I trailed them, Snausages in hand. When new dog began circling on the asphalt, I clapped loudly, interrupting her task. I then led her into the grass and told her that she was to use this area as her bathroom facility. The two senior dogs contributed by setting an example, each earning a Snausage. New dog finally pottied in the grass. I then showered her with love and praise, along with the prized Snausage.
And so it went through the day and into the evening. All three dogs earning Snausages and, at the same time, developing a deep respect for me and my commitment to them. Inside there were calls to make, deadlines looming, dirty laundry, but this was where it was at. I was making a real difference. That evening I reported my success to my husband and two children over dinner.
“I think our little problem is solved already. I could really be a dog trainer if I wanted,” I announced.
My daughter started giggling and pointed out the back window. New dog was leaving her mark right next to our grill on the back deck.
I shook it off. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Day two was somewhat successful, but there was a shift occurring. The dogs now greeted me with a kind of desperation. Were they becoming too dependent on my love, my praise? Constant sniffing, nudging my hands. Wait, the Snausages. They were hooked. Each bathroom break I closed my hands tightly around the treats and urged the dogs to tend to their business. Then they would get their reward. It worked through Day 3, and new dog had only one mishap that day. A new record. I knew that if I could stay on my game through Day 4, we were home-free.
That’s when it happened. I rose and dressed quickly in an A-line skirt and crew-neck T-shirt. My local weatherman predicted another hot day. I had just enough time to take the dogs out before the whole house woke up and the chaotic morning began. I grabbed three Snausages and led the dogs out the front door. The dogs stayed close to me, sniffing at my hands and begging with their eyes.
“Go potty. Go on,” I urged to no avail. Obsessed with the Snausages, they were unable to think of anything else. I couldn’t put the Snausages down, they would devour them. I couldn’t leave the dogs unattended, not now. We had come so far. There were no pockets in my skirt, so I did it. I put the Snausages in my underwear. Not the front or the back like that kid with the frogs on ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos.’ I simply slipped them under the elastic on my left hip, kind of like bullets in a holster. Beef and cheese bullets.
So you can see my dilemma. I can’t picture anyone giving me a standing ovation for my beef and cheese bullets. However, I don’t know that there is a specialist out there for me, either. Is it a change for the better? Doesn’t feel like it. I don’t really want to do it again. Is it a gateway to riskier behavior? Rawhide in the bra? Let’s hope not.Maybe all first times aren’t positive or negative. Maybe I just need a new mental file folder. With my mental Sharpie (black, medium-point) I’ll write, “It Just Happened.” Yeah, that feels right. Well maybe not exactly “right,” but it feels . . . well . . . mmmm how can I describe just how I feel? Where’s my thesaurus . . .