My dog can’t find a place to pee.
It’s not for lack of trying, because he stops at every bush en route from the door up the sidewalk to the grassy hill across the parking lot, lifts his leg, decides this bush or blade of grass or discarded branch isn’t quite right, and moves along. I haven’t counted, but I suspect his attempted and unsuccessful pees count in the dozens each time we leave the house.
This is only an issue for me because we live in an apartment, and I can no longer just open the door and let him pee in the yard at his leisure. Maybe he used to take this much time finding the perfect spot when we lived in a house with the yard and I just never bothered to pay attention. I don’t know. But as an apartment dweller, I have a new perspective on my dog’s habits, and I find a lot of it puzzling.
With my human-level sense of smell, I will never be able to enjoy the ability to detect the nuances of odor he does, so I’m sure much of it will remain a mystery. But I can’t logic my way through what could possibly place one spot for peeing on higher than another. And the distractions! The moment a leaf lifts on the tree, or a person walks into the parking lot, or a car passes on a neighboring street, this dog is off task, nose in the air, trying to scent the disturbance in the Pee Force.
This dog, who keeps his snowy fur beautifully clean with no assistance from us, also hates to get his feet wet. If it has rained in the last few days, he resists walking on the grass, and hops off the moment his pads get damp. Living in Portland is especially hard for this poor pup. His prissy behavior decreases the possible locations for pee, unless I drag him by the leash up the slope to where he previously found the perfect spot, in the hopes that his moisture aversion will prevent him from loitering. It never does, since he overcomes this hesitation the moment he takes two steps up the hill. After that, he’s in for the long haul, sniffing every leaf, lifting a leg, changing his mind. On and on.
And even worse is the pooping. This dog will wander all over hell’s half acre looking for The Spot, which invariably comes back to the same spot he passed up four times. I have taken the tack of wandering to a level spot in the grass, standing in one spot, letting him wander in circles around me at the length of his leash. He makes it about three times around before he decides to drop a load.
We call this “Loops and Poops,” and it works like a charm. It seems that he is conned by this habit into thinking he’s searched more of the grounds for the perfect spot than he has. In these moments, I suspect he’s not quite as smart as other dogs. He’s rather easily conned.
I wonder sometimes if this looking for the perfect place isn’t something we’re all doing, on some level. Looking for the perfect place to start. Getting distracted by a ripple in the air, something setting us off course, and then, if we’re lucky or smart or determined, we go back to seeking. Has someone done this particular thing before? In this particular place? Am I going to be thrown off balance by trying to do this thing *right* here? What if the moment isn’t exactly right? What if a better place comes along in a few days…maybe I should have waited?
What I know for sure is that I need to start taking some waterproof reading material along when I take the dog out, to stop me thinking deep thoughts about dog poop.