It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Dogs and Toddlers, Toddlers and Dogs

I have long said that there are marked similarities between toddlers and dogs.

(And thus is it terribly ironic that the woman who can take 5 toddlers pretty much anywhere with no fear of public embarrassment can’t get her damned dog to stop trolling the kitchen counters. I know who to blame for the poor behaviour, of course. And it’s not the dog. On the upside, her recall in the dog park is about 95%!!)

But this? This! Replace “puppy” with “toddler”. Same thing. Exactly. You know it is!


(Thank you, Carol, for the link!)

January 15, 2014 Posted by | the cuteness!, the dog | , | 1 Comment

Potty Adventures, Day Two

I have two potties, but thus far have only used one. On Monday, Jazz spent most of her day sleeping; on Tuesday, Rory wasn’t here. Two kids can share one potty.

This is not laziness on my part. I can carry two pots up the stairs as easily as one. No, the thing is, I have a puppy. A seven-month-old puppy, who is VERY INTERESTED in this whole potty-training endeavor.

Very interested in bare butts. (Oh, ugh.)
Very interested in pee on the floor. (Whee!)
And very, very interested in potties. Even nicely rinsed potties still smell heavenly-divine to a seven-month-old puppy. A seven-month-old irrepressible puppy. (Actually I think that phrase is a redundancy. All seven-month-old puppies are irrepressible.)

Daisy! Away from the potty! Away!

Daisy! No!

Daisy! Leave that thing alone!

Daisy! Get your nose out of there!

“Daisy!” [Calling over my shoulder to my own two kids, chatting in the kitchen, as I fend Daisy off with one hand while trying to help Grace sit properly] “Will someone please crate this animal?”

ONE of my potties, see, has a lid. The other does not. So one potty is Daisy resistant, while the other is a veritable smorgasbord of all manner of YUMMY, YUMMY scents and savories.


We are using the potty with the lid. Ahem.

And yesterday, on day two, Jazz was rested and ready to potty. She was interested in the potty, but she was INTO the Smarties. Fervently. Rory and Grace hadn’t thought of it, but Jazz instantly realized that if she gets a Smartie every time she plops her butt on the potty… well, she’ll just do that, won’t she? All. Day. Long!!!

I’ve been using a timer so I don’t lose track of how long those little pee-bombs have been darting around my home. Originally it was set to 20 minutes, but the girls were doing so very well, I moved it to 25 minutes mid-morning. After a three-minute stretch in which Jazz “earned” herself four Smarties, I decided she could ONLY go when the timer beeped.

Because, yeah, I bought the big bag, but she’d have consumed the thing single-handedly before lunch at that rate… Moreover, she’d managed to squeeze out a driplet of pee each time, so I figure the girl has plenty of control. If she can force it out, she can hold it in.

That’s the theory, anyway.

“When the timer beeps, you can try. You wait for the timer now.” Well, poo. You know how historical novels often have their young heroines “flounce” when unhappy about something? I had a mental picture of what that must be, but I’d never seen anyone really flounce before.

Jazz flounces.

Upon being told she would have to WAIT for the next Smartie Opportunity, Jazz flounced off to the craft set out on the dining table. And when that timer beeped?

As it happend, Grace was closer to the potty, so Grace was setting herself down when Jazz came roaring up, SMARTIES on the brain. Grace is a slow-mover. She eats slowly, she dawdles when she walks, she talks slowly. Grace does nothing quickly. So in the time it takes Jazz to slip down from the chair in the dining room and bomb across to the potty in the living room, Grace has almost, but not quite, settled her butt on the potty.

Jazz flies into the room, and performs a very creditable body check, causing Grace to sit, not on the potty, but on the floor beside the potty.

Nice try, little Ms. Enthusiasm. But you can wait.

We resettle Grace on the potty. Grace pees. Jazz claps and cheers. Jazz sits. And produces a sizeable poo. Grace looks stunned. I think it honestly hadn’t occurred to her THAT was a possibility.

Lessons learned all round then. And we do the potty dance again, cheering and clapping for the steaming pile.

And then, before Daisy succeeds in her efforts to get up close and very personal with the S.P., I whisk the potty upstairs for a thorough cleaning.

At the end of today:

There were no accidents at all.
Grace is still on track for training.
Jazz is probably going to get there even sooner.
Daisy has not ONCE managed to get her nose in a pile of… anything.

I’d call that a success.

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Grace, Jazz, potty tales | , , , | 9 Comments

New Arrival at Mary’s!

Isn’t he sweeeeeeet?

He’s not mine. He’s Emma’s. Emma has been lobbying for a dog of her own, a small dog, for quite some while. She wore me down won me over, and I conceded. Small dog.

He’s small, all right… At 1.9 kg (4 pounds) he’s a smidge overweight, though at only ten weeks, he has a fair bit of growing ahead of him. He’s a miniature poodle/Shih Tzu cross, which makes him, officially, a “Shih Poo”. Emma, however, is seventeen. Is she calling him a “Shih Poo”? She is not.

She is calling him a “Shit Poo”. Of course.

He’s a laptop dog.

His name… is Romeo.

And what does Indie, our resident dog, think of him?

Well, after careful inspection… “It smells like a dog”…

“Though I dunno… do dogs come that small?…”

They discovered that they have at least a few doggie interests in common…

Hey, you guys! Don’t be chewing the shoes!!

December 29, 2010 Posted by | my kids, the dog | , , , , | 15 Comments

Of dogs and cats and justice served

There is a cat in our neighbourhood.

Oh, I know. You assume that in a residential city neighbourhood, there are likely dozens of cats. There are. Dozens of them.

And then there is Maurice.

Maurice, a sleek black short-haired cat. Maurice, who will sit in the very centre of the street and stare down the car as it approaches. I’ve seen a cabbie blasting his horn — to no effect, I might add — at the contemptuous feline before him. Maurice does not have a death wish, though with this behaviour in his repertoire, it is indeed surprising that he’s survived to see his seventh years. He does not have a death wish, because, in Maurice’s mind, he OWNS that cab. And its driver. And the horse he rode in on.

Maurce will wander into your home when opportunity presents. Maurice will then stare down any resident animals — there’s a cat or a dog wrathfully indignant with this interloper? Maurice will take them on.

Maurice also taunts dogs. Comes to a foot past the end of the leash, and just sits there, blinking at the lunging, frothing, barking apparition inches from his whiskers.

Maurice is a bit of a legend on the street.

Mary heads out with the tots, and the dog on the leash. (Note the careful placement of the comma: only the dog is leashed. See? Punctuation matters.) It is a brooding, oppressive day, immanent rain in the damp on the rising breeze, the darkening clouds overhead. We are not going far, just to the green space by the river at the base of the street. The tots can race around for a bit, the dog can find a stick and probably have a pee or four. If it does start to rain, we’re only three minutes from home. It’s all good.

What’s not good is that the tarp has blown off the stroller in last night’s blustery rain, and the stroller’s padded seats are soaked. You’d think a child in a raincoat would be protected, but no matter how carefully I line a soaked seat with plastic, the child always ends up with a soaked seat. Bah. Well, it’s a very short walk. I’ll bet Baby Noah is up to the walk. Anna and Timmy are good enough walkers, and responsive to my instructions. And it’s a very, VERY quiet street.

We’ll just walk.

Off we go. Noah on one hand, Indie on the other, Timmy and Anna walking hand-in-hand (which is so CUUUUTE) ahead of me. They’re just following instructions, but toddlers holding hands will always be one of the most endearing sights I get to see in my daily work. Always makes me go all smooshy.

We are doing just fine. Noah toodles to my left, Indie prances on a short leash to my right, Timmy and Anna trot ahead. And then Maurice appears. Sees the dog. Positions himself so the dog sees him.

And sit there, blinking.

Now I have Noah on my left, Timmy and Anna a few steps ahead, and a leaping, plunging dog on my right.

“Indie, SIT! Maurice, you stupid cat! GO AWAY!!”

He blinks. A whisker twitches, perhaps.

Oooh! Mary said “Stupid!” The children are delighted, and take this as permission to dabble in the forbidden.

“Stoopid cat!”
“Moe-riss, you stoopid cat!”
“Morris is a stoopud!”

Maurice, the stupid cat, is unmoved. And unmoving.

I’m really rather pleased by what I feel I must do. I mean, what choice do I have?

I let the leash out.

You know, it was really, really gratifying to see that smug feline leap directly up and do a 180 mid-air. Really, really gratifying.

(For all you cat-lovers out there, be assured that I did a mental calculation and reckoned that Maurice could easily make it under a parked car or up a tree before Indie came to the end of her 8-foot leash. And he did.)

With that out of our systems, and the cat out of sight, we proceed down the street.

Within two houses, that damned cat is stalking us. Happily, Indie has not seen him. I don’t know what the cat’s range is, but I’ve never seen him at the river, so I figure we’ll lose him within a few more houses. We just have to get to the bottom of the street… One house, two houses… With Noah on foot instead of in the stroller, our three-minute walk is now six, but we’re within four or so houses of being into a Maurice-free zone.

“Oh, look! The cat is back there!”

You know, I’ll swear the dog understood Timmy, the big blabbermouth. She spins around and spots that wretched animal. Who sits down and stares at the straining dog a front-yard-length ahead. (He’s out of range of the leash; he’s learned at least that much. Unfortunately.)

We continue. Noah on my left, Timmy and Anna walking ahead, and Indie on such a short leash that her efforts to are slowly throttling herself, resulting in copious “gak”-ing. Me, I’d like to gak the cat.

At each driveway, Maurice slouches in behind car or hedge or retaining wall. With the cat out of sight, Indie calms, but at the end of car or hedge or wall, the cat reappears and Indie’s efforts resume. We are walking in a straight line, the children haven’t really noticed, but I am certainly weary of the struggle.

We have reached the corner and are about to head into the green space by the river. I have now decided that, although he’s never been that far before, the sheer joy of dog-tormenting will ensure that today be the day that Maurice cross the road and join us by the river. If he does that, we’re all going home. After I perform a double-pet homicide.

And then… a wonderful, wonderful sound reaches my ears. Truly wonderful.

So intent was he on the dog in his sights that Maurice had not noticed the other cat. The other, angry cat. The cat who wanted Maurice out of his territory, NOW. The cat who… oh, happy day!… launched himself atop Maurice. Direct hit!

Their squawls and yowls are music to my ears. They roll out of sight down the drive, a furry blur of feline fury. The tots, the dog and I cross the street in decorous peace.

Justice can be so very sweet.

September 16, 2008 Posted by | outings, power struggle | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Babies of various sorts


We’ve been talking a lot about poop in the MaryP house these days. Frequency, consistency, appearance.

We’ve been discussing sleep patterns, and brainstorming solutions to potentially problematic social developments. We’ve been ensuring adequate exercise and play time. We’ve been working out some discipline issues. We’ve been reading books on psychology and behavioural conditioning.

All this while I’m having my two weeks off. There is not a toddler in sight.

We have a puppy, and I tell you, it’s just like having a baby.


It is NOT.

I have had a baby. Three of ’em, in fact. There are a lot of parallels, and parents can learn a LOT about toddler-wrangling from the principles of puppy-training…

but it is NOT the same.

Any non-kid-owning dog-owners reading this? It does not matter how much your puppy whined in the night at first. It does not matter how delicate his digestion, nor how socially needy she is…

Human babies leave puppies MILES in the shade.

You have a puppy and you need to go out for a couple of hours? You put her in her crate with a chewy bone, and you leave.

Try doing that with a baby.

The puppy is whining in the night? You put her in her crate with a hot water bottle and a ticking clock, and you close the door.

Try doing that with a baby.

The puppy needs to play, but you don’t feel like going to the dog park? Toss the puppy in the back yard with a tennis ball.

Try doing that…

you get my point.

Still! If you are a dog-lover who has never had children? And if (this is important!) your dog is well-trained and well-behaved, you are getting some valuable pre-parent training.

We are NOT talking neurotic little mama’s-baby pooches, the type who need to be carried in bad weather, the fat little waddlers who won’t run in the park, the whiners and the nippers and the tearers-up of library books. But if your dog is cheerful, healthy, active and essentially well-behaved…

It’ll help. More than you might realize.

But please, don’t be calling the dog “my baby” in front of the parents of a human baby. Who might smile weakly to your face, but will mock you eternally behind your back. Who will be fighting the urge to beat you senseless with a sippy cup, and, on particularly bad days, switch the baby for the pup.

And me? I’m just love, love, loving our new puppy. Who I would never trade for a baby, thanks.

August 29, 2008 Posted by | my kids, parents | , , , | 13 Comments