When we got Maggie, she was about eight weeks old. We had quit our last company and knew where we were going to go to work next, but wanted to take a few weeks off in between. It seemed like the perfect time to get a puppy. I had been searching the Internet for months looking for the right dog, and had just fallen in love with Maggie’s pictures. After talking some with the owners, Stace and I decided she was the one. Well we live in Missouri and they were down in Arkansas so I offered to just drive down and get her instead of having them ship her. I didn’t like the idea of a tiny little puppy being scared out of her wits on an airplane. But as it turned out, they said they were coming up our way the next weekend and they would meet us around our house. At first I was uneasy by the idea that maybe they didn’t want us to see their house or the conditions the dogs were in or something. I didn’t think until later that they probably weren’t thrilled with the idea of potentially — ok, probably — crazy Internet people dropping by their house.
So after days of hideous waiting, it was finally the big day. I got to the meeting location too early and had to sit around waiting. Finally a big old pickup with Arkansas plates pulled in and parked. I walked over to them and there was Maggie. The wife had this big fluffy pink pillow on her lap and Maggie was laying on it and just looking around calmly. I swear she looked like the pretty pretty Princess surveying her kingdom. Financial transactions finished quickly, I scooped Maggie up and got ready to take her home. She didn’t protest. She just snuggled into the crook of my arm. When we got home, she explored the living room some, and got to know Stace for a while. Then we thought it might be a good idea to take her outside to take care of business.
We had been debating for some time if we should train her to go outside or inside on potty pads. The main reason we were debating this was because we traditionally run a lot of timed-transit freight such as Fedex. Where you have to maintain 50 mph transit times (pickup to delivery) which includes switching drivers, pretriping, fueling, eating, etc. We generally enjoy timed-transit runs but didn’t know how well it would work with a little puppy with a tiny little puppy bladder. The debate was still open at that point.
Then I took her out for the first time. I put her little collar on with her leash and out we went. It was a February night and there was heavy frost on the ground. I sat her down on the ground and stood there waiting. She looked around for a bit then started lifting her feet one at a time as if trying to get them off the cold ground. She looked around some more and finally walked over and climbed up on my shoe. Where she promptly sat down and then looked up at me. I swear the expression on her face was, “whew, that’s better.” I had to laugh. I took her off my shoe and tried again to get her to go, but no luck. We went back inside. A little later we tried again. This time was pretty much the same thing.
Maggie is an extremely smart dog. The third time we tried there was almost no hesitation. As soon as I had sat her on the ground she headed for my shoe. Once she climbed up on my shoe she stood looking up at me like, “Why are you being so mean to the puppy? Its cold out here, you know.” I started envisioning taking her out in two feet of snow in Wyoming in a few weeks. Then I started envisioning me standing out in two feet of snow in Wyoming in a few weeks. Shudder. Those potty pads were sounding better and better.
The next day we were still trying with not a lot of success. That evening I realized I was standing outside in the freezing drizzle with a tiny dog sitting calmly on my foot, shivering, and looking up at me like I was crazy. Potty pads it was.
The potty pad training was slow. It was frustrating. We were even reduced to reading books. It took forever. We ended up being between jobs for right at three months. Ok… I know… I know… As if it was all because of Maggie and not that we’re just generally lazy and didn’t want to go back to work yet. Regardless, by the time we started with They Who Must Not Be Named, she was doing pretty well. And miracle of miracles once we were in the truck she became virtually perfect. I think it was because her potty pad was in the floorboard of the passenger seat. That’s kind of an enclosed area. Whatever it was she quit having accidents. Thank you, Jebus.