So I am working on practicing letting go of control. Because control is an illusion, right?
After my appointment with T, I decided to concentrate on the control issues I have with the dogs, because I felt like it was a lower level of anxiety for me…in the grand scheme of things. So over the weekend I’ve practiced letting them outside without going out with them. I didn’t run out to pick up poop right after they went, and in fact did not see them poop most of the time where normally I’d be out with them or glued to the window watching them. I watched them to make sure they both peed and/or pooped, so I’d feel secure in letting Butthead wander around the house unsupervised. I figured if she had peed outside, regularly, she wouldn’t have anything in her to do in the house.
It’s been over a week since I started this post and I’ve tried very hard to not watch the dogs when they are outside. It has been hit or miss with success, unfortunately. There were times when I was able to let them be and check on them when Butthead barked, and other times when I couldn’t stop watching them to make sure everything was okay. With the attempts at practicing letting go of the control of the dogs, there have been setbacks. With Butthead, of course.
For the week plus, I’ve been leaving the gate open at the top of the stairs in the evenings, allowing Butthead to come upstairs when she wants (while I’m on that level) while closing the other bedroom doors up here. She has made the rounds, checking in to see if there are any treats or any food in the master bedroom, then she mostly goes back downstairs where Hub is. Seemed successful, which made me happy to know we were making progress. And I was trying very hard to let the dogs BE outside. They’re playing more in the cold weather so I feel like I should watch them to make sure they don’t get hurt, as they play rather rambunctiously. And I know that Butthead is still digging and eating stuff. But T said to me, if she digs, what happens? The yard looks like crap. (I didn’t think to say that the digging becomes a horrible habit we can’t stop…) If she eats stuff, what happens? She could get sick and puke on my carpets AGAIN. Then I have to clean it up. If she doesn’t pee outside, what happens? She pees in the house and then I have to clean it up. None of this is tragic. Annoying, yes. Habit-forming for Butthead, yes. Makes it harder for us to correct, yes. But things that can be dealt with.
So I was outside one day last week with my Dad, who was helping me replace the tail light on my car after my stupid accident with the garage. It took over an hour because he didn’t like how the replacement was fitting, and then we found a bulb out on the other tail light. So I had left Butthead and Le Moo in the back yard, which was only partially visible from where we were. I was keeping an ear out and every now and then could see Butthead wandering around back there. Le Moo mostly lays near the gate, so she was visible most of the time. When I was finally done with my Dad, I went through the house and out the back door and found Butthead head first in a new hole that she was digging flush up against the house. I was so angry, but I corrected her (since I caught her) and put her in the house. I was so angry because she could do damage to the waterproofing stuff that is visible where she was digging. So I spent the next hour filling that hole and the original hole she had dug weeks ago with fresh dirt we had leftover from when we’d done our gardens over the summer. And I hurt my back, which left me on ice and heating pads since then (four days so far). Setback #1, which shows the cascading results of what happens when I let go of some control. Nothing tragic, but annoying and frustrating and painful.
Today, both Hub and I are home, and it’s freaking frigid cold outside. But Hub has been with the dogs for most of the morning. We’re still not letting Butthead be alone for any length of time. When we go out, she goes in her crate. When he leaves in the morning for work, she goes in her crate. When we go to sleep at night, she sleeps in her crate. Otherwise either he’s on the same floor that she is, or I am. But we’ve relaxed how supervised she is. We don’t follow her to other rooms to see what she’s doing. We don’t go looking for her when she disappears from view. She hasn’t had an accident in the house since the first month she was with us…since the first two weeks, really. She gets to go out all the time since I’m home during the day. We have a schedule that we generally stick to. But as I said earlier, we’ve been letting her upstairs more often, which is what we did today. Hub was fixing something on my computer and working on his computer down the hall in the spare room we use as his computer room. Butthead was in the room with us (my computer is in our sitting room), sleeping on Le Moo’s bed. Then Hub got up to go to his computer room and Butthead wandered off. When I went to do laundry, I spotted Butthead downstairs with Le Moo and figured all was well. Twenty minutes later, while I was back in the bedroom reading, Hub called upstairs to tell me that Butthead had peed in the media room. And it had to have happened sometime between when he came upstairs to work on the computer and when he went back downstairs, because he was in the media room prior to that. So at some point during that hour, she peed on the carpet. She’d been out not more than two hours prior to him finding the pee. WTF. So we dragged out the carpet cleaner and I cleaned the carpet…probably more overkill than needed, but that’s how I roll with that stuff. But why the hell did she pee in the house? And what’s more, does that mean she’s been sneaking off to pee and we didn’t know it? Had we not gotten her house-trained and been humming along without knowing it? And so now her privileges upstairs are gone. Her privileges in that room are gone. I’m not even keen on leaving our den open (also carpeted) to her. I feel like we’ve taken a million steps backward and are back at square one. I’m so disappointed. I feel like I now have to go back to being uber-vigilent about watching her to make sure she doesn’t pee in the house. ARG. Setback #2.
Not happiness here. I feel like the practice has been a failure. I’m going to keep trying, but it’s going to be hard after these setbacks. I’m wondering now if there’s something easier I can practice on than this. I was supposed to make a list, but I never did because I thought this was one of the lowest level things I could come up with.