the other day, lee and i were wistfully reminiscing about the time, not so long ago, when our “baby” was just a tiny, adorable, energetic pup. he’s still adorable and energetic, just not so tiny anymore.
lee made me snort my soda when he recalled our absurd nightly routine in the weeks following cooper‘s homecoming: after work we would feed an eager pup and receive oodles of wet doggie kisses, play and cuddle on the floor, ooh and aww at how he was the “cutest puppy in the world” …then stick a matchstick in his backside. yes, you read that right. there was a time when preparing for bed meant getting out a box of matches and… well, let me explain.
you see, these first few weeks of living with our new canine companion also came with a morning routine: rolling out of bed and farkling over who was going to wash the dog and who would clean the kennel, not yet knowing which would be filthier. cooper could not seem to make it through the night without desecrating his bed with wet, smelly poo, no matter how early we got up. the odorous excrement didn’t seem to offend him, though, because he was just fine rolling around in it while he slept and ensuring the stuff was smeared everywhere. niiiiiice!
the problem was, we couldn’t get him to “go” before bed. he wasn’t yet familiar with his new surroundings, and was so skittish at the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night that he would hardly venture a toenailoff the back porch before scampering back inside, despite our efforts to illuminate the entire area with giant mag-lites. this lack of bedtime bathroom break meant that his tiny bowels had to be emptied in the middle of the night, even though his bed was not the appropriate location.
in desperation, i called our friend and dog trainer to beg for advice. misti immediately recommended that we “match him.” huh? maybe some of you have heard of this technique or even used it before, but when i initially heard the suggestion that we insert a matchstick in the dog’s anus, i was horrified. envisioning nighmarish scenes in which we violated our precious pooch by forcing a burning stick into his nether region, i reluctantly asked for more details.
i was was relieved to discover that no flame was involved, in fact, only the very tip of a well lubed, conveniently sized stick would be in use. she explained that the issue was cooper didn’t feel any sense of urgency, so he was not compelled to relieve himself. the matchstick simply expedited the process by simulating the “gotta go” sensation. motivated by the possibility of a solution to our dreaded wake-up call, lee and i decided to give it a try.
of course, my tough husband couldn’t stomach the dirty work, so he won the job of soothing the head end of our pet while i defiled the business end. (although this did mean cooper was looking at lee when he experienced the betrayal of his trust.)
as wrong as it seemed, it actually worked! we led our match-wielding puggle to the back door, his pug’s tail curled back displaying the evidence of our scheme. and sure enough, he circled a few times, assumed the position, and pooped!
our manipulation of cooper’s BMs lasted only a few weeks before he wised up. just the rattle of the matchbox would send him fleeing to the door with his curly tail straightened out and tucked protectively between his hind legs. the method had effectively taught him not only to “take a break” before bed, but to do it outside!
while lee and i are more than thankful that stage is over, we will always laugh remembering the dung mines in the yard flagged with little matchsticks, and our regular conversations that leapt straight from “aww, isn’t he cute?” to “yeah, now let’s match his ass!”