Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pee Pup goes Condo

The light of my life is affectionately known as Pee Pup. Five pounds of Shih Tzu and five pounds of hair, he’s an adorable three-year old canine dust mop.

Until now, Pee Pup and I have enjoyed private, leisurely walks around our home in Tennessee whenever he gets “that look” in his eye and starts staring at the door. Now that we’ve closed on our condo and are soon packing up to head south, I realize things are about to change for both of us.

But how do you go about converting a country dog into a condo dog?

When recently explaining some of the rather embarrassing, but necessary new potty practices we must adopt in Pensacola Beach, Pee Pup solemnly listened, cocked his tiny head and responded, “Ruf!” Considering I will be called upon for poop patrol at least two or three times a day under the keen and watchful eyes of neighbors, it will be rough indeed. Pee Pup’s going public!

It didn’t take long to realize that neither Ms. Manners, Martha Stewart, nor Hints from Heloise cover such indelicate issues as poop patrol etiquette, though I’m sure there are dog owners among them. Consequently, I went to the Internet to research how other dog owners living in high-rises handle the situation of cleaning up after their beloved pets while retaining a few threads of dignity in the process.

Instead of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Friends while Shoveling Poop,” my search engine resulted in a variety of advertisements for the clean-up equipment. There are Pooper Scoopers and Super Duper Pooper Scoopers, Grabber Dooley Doo Scoops and something called a Scissors Scoop.

For those less squeamish, I found fragranced Pooch Poo Pick-up Bags. Just slip your hand in the bag and …well, you get the drift. It’s difficult envisioning myself making friends when my new neighbors realize the real reason I am, how shall I say, brown-bagging it in the mornings.

I found Pooper Scoopers proclaimed to be “specifically designed” for concrete or grass or lawns, though I’m still trying to figure out the difference between grass and lawn. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any tools specifically designed for sand.

Speaking of tools, one advertisement rather boldly promised to provide “the right tool for the stool.”

I also discovered, rather shockingly, that there are some city folk living in high-rises who skip walks in the park and the indignity of public cleanup after Fido, opting instead to litterbox train their canine family member. Yes, you heard me right, litterbox train your dogs! Perhaps it might work for a dog like Pee Pup, but it certainly wouldn’t work for a Labrador Retriever or a Great Dane unless you’re willing to turn a bathtub over to the process.

Can you just imagine the look on Pee Pup’s face the first time I returned from the store and instead of offering him a cute doggie toy, I offered up a box of dusty, gray-granuled kitty litter? Puhlease!

At least my neighbors will be pleased to know I will never take Pee Pup to the beach. Aside from the fact there is a $500 fine for having a dog on the beach, I would never let those little paws be scorched by the heat of summer sand; I’d never let him be shark bait while running in the surf or stung by a stranded jellyfish; and I don’t even want to think of what saltwater would do to those five pounds of hair! By gosh, though, he’d be a doll in a tiny pair of sunglasses, wearing a Jimmy Buffet baby tee and strolling the shoreline with attitude.

Speaking of hair, the thought of being seen with tousled hair and no make-up at 6:00 a.m. frightens me only slightly less than it will frighten the people who see me in such a state. Yet how long can poor Pee Pup keep his tiny legs crossed while I drag myself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning and get down 20 floors to the closest dog walk? Hint: I’ll be the lady in the elevator wearing sunglasses, a trench coat and a slouchy-brimmed hat at 5:30 a.m. Hopefully someone will mistake me for Garbo, instead of a bag lady.

The first thing that has to change is Pee Pup’s nickname. After all, what would the neighbors think if they heard me referring to him as “Pee Pup”? And what would we call him when he’s older? Pee Dawg? No, Pee Pup is formally “PJ” now. That’s fairly close to what he’s been hearing and much less embarrassing for us both. DJ… PJ… even Daddy can remember that one.

Pee Pup…oops… PJ and I leave for Pensacola Beach soon in a truck filled to the brim with floral arrangements, books, tapes, paintings, comforters, pillows and various other accessories for the condo. Seven hours in a vehicle with a man who listens to me. What more could a girl ask?

I imagine somewhere between Birmingham and Montgomery I’ll admit that PJ gives nary a hoot about who’s watching him during his most private moments. He lives moment to moment, one doggie biscuit to the next, content with tummy scratches at night and a bit of ball-fetching during the day. He has no worries about his appearance and each new person he meets is only a hand-lick away from becoming a friend. That’s more than most of us can say.

So perhaps more accurately my question becomes, “How do you go about converting a country dog owner into a condo dog owner”?


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