Friday, June 25, 2010

End of an Era: End of the Errors?

John and Doodle, MA ~ May, 2010

Considering the major life change that is John, Doodle's adjustment to her little brother has been relatively smooth. I spent a ton of quality time with Doodle before John was born. Namely because I knew things would be different once our new roommate arrived and also because at the end of my pregnancy, all I could do was lie in bed on my side. Doodle loves nothing better than a still, warm snuggle companion. After John was born, I read in my baby books that you're supposed to limit the time you spend with your animal friend before the infant comes home in order to prepare her. Oh well. I guess I'll just add this to the list of several well-intentioned parenting mistakes I'll make along the way.

Doodle was terrified of John at first, not sure what to make of this wiggling, crying thing that smelled weird and seemed to be everywhere: on the bed, in the basket, on the table, in the swing, in the bouncy seat, with Mom. Always with Mom. But once she realized the squirming twerp wasn't a threat to her safety, she relaxed a bit and went on with her life, a little hungrier for food and attention.

Most readers know that Doodle cat uses a toilet instead of a litter box, something I trained her to do over ten years ago with incredible results. I basically moved her litter box into the bathroom, put it atop the toilet, then switched it with a mixing bowl filled with litter, and finally, used some plastic wrap with a hole in it, the litter scattered on top to direct her where to go. And voila!Over the decade, she's had an 85-90% success rate, even managing to poop and pee in strangers' toilets when we've traveled to Massachusetts or Vermont. The problem has been, however, that when she makes a mistake (or an intentional mistake), it's often a costly one in terms of money, effort, and frustration for both of us.

On Monday, Doodle peed in the toilet and I gave her cheers, per usual. Later on, JD's Mom and brother came over to see the baby. JD was in the bedroom on the phone, and Doodle was running around acting a little crazy. Generally I pay close attention to her activity to thwart any potential rogue doo doo bombs, but I was entertaining. I assumed she was running to and fro because she had just done her #2 business in the can and was due another round of praise. I was wrong.

JD screamed out from the bedroom. I rushed in with a "What? What?? What???" He was in shock, and all he could muster was a gesture toward the clean comforter which, in my corner of the bed, now contained a little nest of logs compliment of Doodle cat. In her confusion over the number of guests fawning over the new roommate whom has stolen her thunder since March, she flipped and failed.

With the comforter clean and no "Bad kitty!" reprimands, I'm finally coming around to the idea of providing Doodle with her very own litter box so both of us don't endure the potty time stress anymore. She's a wild animal (wilder than most) with an intelligence, sophistication, and grace which surpass most homo sapiens, and I'm so proud of her. I think it's time I honor her with a box of dirt she can toss turds around in just like her peers. And if she wants to act like a lady and dump in the can once in awhile, that's fine too.

Viva Doodle!


glittergirl said...

wow, that post actually got me a little teary-eyed. it's amazing that you're able to adjust and give doodle a new (old) way to handle things.

a lot of people in your situation would get rid of the pet. i see so many emails forwarded about people who are looking to give away their dogs or cats after having a baby.

so, this just made my day!

anne altman said...

aw, thanks, GG. i'm glad.

teri said...

I agree with glittergirl. so glad everyone is adjusting well.

Anonymous said...

I know how much it meant to you that Dood could use the toilet just like the rest of us, but I am so proud of you for relaxing on this litter box thing. Just think of her as an old woman with incontinence issues and the litter box as Depends.

Nina Paley said...

Yay for Doodle! Yay for Anne!

lisagh said...

Your little family makes me happy. said...

Hello Anne!

Today was my first visit to your blog, but it won't be the last. You are an inspiring lady!
I have (just about) trained my kitty to use the people-toilet too. But when it goes wrong, oh, how it goes wrong.
You know though, I learnt so much about behaviour modification from it: for kitties and for people. As you clearly have. Since Doodle now has a (very cute) sibling to deal with, c-c-changes are in order.

anne altman said...

ch ch ch changes!

thanks everyone for the positive thoughts.

and thank you, nadine, for stopping by!