Routine

Jun. 20th, 2017 07:32 am
tinhuviel: (yay...)
[personal profile] tinhuviel

One of the things that is imperative for a happy, healthy dog and, as a result, a happy, healthy dog parent, is establishing a routine. In fact, it is probably the most important thing about a dog/human relationship in our modern times.

That is the one thing I did not have in San Diego.  As a result,  I had a dog who was utterly confused as to what was expected of him, and seemed hellbent on pissing in the house at every given opportunity. His habits degenerated from going out when he wished and doing his business outside, to going outside and just waiting to come back in, at which time he would then relieve himself.  I had to invest in puppy pads every single month, and keep them all over the bedroom floor.  It was a disgusting situation for everyone involved.

There were a number of factors as to why this was the case. First, the area in which we lived in San Diego was at the bottom of a series of canyons.  With my health issues, walking in the neighbourhood was exceedingly difficult on the best of days.  On top of that, with my depression out of control, I had zero motivation to step out of my room, much less the house.  Matt had set up a very long leash system that allowed Toby access to the entire front yard, where he even had enough room to run to play fetch, which he did a lot of with Matt. (One thing I can say about Matt is, he is very good with animals for the most part.  I don't agree with his hard-on for César Milan, but Matt has a huge heart when it comes to animals, and he and Toby were best buds for four years. I really believe there was a chance Toby would not have survived our time out there, had it not been for Matt.) If no one was out there with him, though, Toby would do nothing but sit by the door, waiting to come back inside. Matt would let him in and play with him out in the living room but, instead of letting him back out to use the bathroom before sending him back to me, he'd just put him in my room, where Toby would then relieve himself, since he hadn't been out in a while. Thanks to the humans around him, Toby developed horrible habits and appeared to delight in doing the exact opposite of what was expected of him at any given time.  At some point, I just gave up and kept a puppy pad carpet on the bedroom floor, and let the unruly boys do whatever the fuck they wanted.  None of it really mattered.

During the move, Toby was thrown into even more upheaval, and his behaviour got worse.  Whenever critters are thrown into uncertain situations and unfamiliar environments, they do exactly what small children do - they act out.  With dogs, their acting out often comes in the form of reprehensible bathroom behaviour.  Toby was marking anything and everything, both outside and indoors.  Nothing I did seemed to stop him, no matter how often I took him outside.  When we were staying with Janice, I thought she was going to have to be committed there a couple of times, especially when Elvis - Blake's little Chihuahua - and Toby were together.  Elvis wouldn't stop humping everyone, and Toby wouldn't stop marking to show his ownership of and dominance over all which he surveyed.  Truly, it has been a nightmare.

The first day were were in the new pad, Toby had a couple of mishaps in the apartment.  Thankfully, he chose the side of Smidgen's litter box.  I cleaned it up easily, and thanked the Mighties that Toby didn't choose to soil the carpet!  That very day, I started him on a schedule, taking him out every two hours the first couple of days.  The landscape here at Stonesthrow is relatively level and a 100% improvement when it comes to being walkable.  Plus, there's a dog park that allows Toby to freely roam as he chooses, instead of always being tethered to his crippled companion.  By the time the first week was up, we had established a set schedule that works for us both.  In the morning, we go out around 6:30 am, then 10:15, 2 PM, 6 PM, and sometime between 9 and 10 PM.  Toby swiftly embraced the schedule, and has readily adopted it to his internal clock.  

After four years of excremental horror, there have been no more bathroom incidences since we have settled into the new place.  Plus, I'm getting more exercise than I have in ages, as well.  The ability to move more without excessive pain, or the threat of blacking out from over-exertion in a landscape hostile to the mobility-challenged.  I downloaded an exercise app the other day, because I was curious to see how much I'm walking with Toby each day. After using it these past few days, I'm pleased to report that I'm averaging between 2 and 3 miles each day. After storm season is over with, and there's not a threat of being drenched only moments after you were strolling under the sun, I intend to expand our wandering out to the main roads like Pleasantburg Drive.  I don't really need to lose weight, but I do need to build back my muscle, and Toby definitely could slim down a little, after spending years being fed gobs of people food and living a sedentary lifestyle.

I am amazed that it took basically just a week to turn Toby around.  His breakthroughs have also been my breakthroughs, because the increased activity has helped me manage my depression which, in turn, allowed me to stick to the new routine, and actually look forward to mine and Toby's times out of doors.  

Coming back to the Southeast has been the wisest and healthiest decision I could have made for myself, Toby, and Smidgen.  No regrets!

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