Two Dogs, One Apartment

Sorry for the gap between blogs. It’s been a really tough week personally so the blog took a backseat.

Lucy came back home about 10 days ago (I think?) and finally got to meet Lady. And, as with everything thus far with Lady, the meet and greet was seamless. SNORT recommends separating foster dogs from their fur siblings for the first few days in a new foster home but Lady had been here for 10 days already. Plus, in the few days before Lucy came home I’d been able to see Lady interact with other dogs and she was fine. She showed interest in other dogs but honestly that’s about it – no lunging toward them, no excited hopping around, certainly no aggression. Still, I was ready to separate them with a gate but that ended up being totally unnecessary.

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  Does this face look like she’d cause trouble?!

When Lucy walked in the apartment, there was some mutual sniffing between the dogs and then Lady went over to her bed in the corner and Lucy hopped up on the couch and that’s where they spent 90 percent of their first night together. And since. Lucy and I do play together on the floor most days and while Lady frequently comes over to inspect, she has no concept of play or interest in toys, gets bored quickly and retreats back to her bed.

The biggest change is getting myself out the door in the morning. I do as much prep as I can before my 5:30 a.m. CrossFit class but I have only an hour from when I get home from class until I leave for work so the process of taking care of two dogs (breakfast, potty breaks – usually multiple since neither dog will do all their business in one trip) and getting myself ready is going to need to be refined. But we’re making progress.

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Just an obligatory cute photo of Lucy.

The only negative is that Lady has severely regressed on her housetraining. Every day I come home from work either at lunch or at the end of the day and she’s peed. Sometimes twice a day. The obvious thought would be she’s marking her territory. Lady comes across as anything but an alpha female but the timing of her regression and Lucy coming back is too coincidental to rule it out. But if she is marking, she should be spayed soon and I’m really (really) hoping that ends the marking.

Also, Lady has completely come out of her shell. Don’t get me wrong, she still spends a lot of time in her bed, but she is so. freaking. happy. every time I walk in the door. She’s started hopping around and running in circles. It’s so heartwarming to see; it makes me realize how cruddy she felt (or how scared she was) when I first brought her home.

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Watching from afar as Lucy acts like a maniac.

And while she and Lucy aren’t best buddies, they co-exist perfectly. They each lounge on different ends of the couch while I’m gone, eat in separate areas with a zero issues and have their own go-to spaces in the apartment.

So, I have to say that the fostering-by-myself experiment is going better than I could have expected. If housetraining issues are my biggest concern, I’d say we’re all doing just fine!

The Last 24 Hours

It’s been almost exactly 24 hours since bringing Lady home and it’s been both eventful and wonderfully normal.

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Night one

SNORT arranged for me to meet the volunteer who got Lady out of shelter around 6 p.m. last night in Aberdeen, Md. Lady and I were on the road home around 6:15. Lady did not make a single peep when I loaded her into the car, buckled her seatbelt harness and began the 75-minute drive home. In fact, she immediately curled up in a ball on the seat and did not move for the entire drive. Seriously. At least four times during the drive home I turned my overhead lights on to make sure she was alive. She was that quiet and that still.

She wasted no time in pottying inside (#1 and #2, although I caught her mid-#2 and carried her to the door with poop nuggets leaving a trail behind us) but ate well for the most part which was a relief because she needed her meds. She was super itchy, though, so I chopped up 1/3 of a Zyrtec and put it on a spoon with peanut butter. She looked at me like I had two heads. Finally, I just placed the spoon on the ground to see what she’d do. She slowly walked over, took one lick then realized that shit was good and went back for more, finishing the PB and the Zyrtec!

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As we approached bedtime, I wanted to take her out but she wouldn’t actually go outside, so I broke out the bag of treats. I held a treat out for her but yet again, she looked at me like I was crazy. So, I put the treat on the floor and she slowly walked over, tasted it and then GOBBLED IT UP. Holy moly, I swear her eyes lit up. It was like she’d tasted doggy crack. Seriously. I reached out to clip on her leash and she searched my hands for more treats.

Fortunately, she largely slept through the night. She had several coughing fits but I checked on her midway through the night and she was fine. Not anxious, panting or circling – just curled up in a ball in her crate.

Day One

I woke up to a clean cage, she pottied (outside!) and got more magic treats. The rest of the morning was routine. I went to CrossFit, came back, fed her and took her out before work. She still takes some prompting to go outside but once I wave the Magic Treat Bag, she’s ready to go out. In fact, she did her first Happy Pug Dance when I broke out the treat bag! Melted my heart.

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She uses the food mat as a bed 😦

The big downer from today? I think Lady whined the entire time I was gone. Which was most of the day, minus when I went home for lunch. At lunchtime when I opened the outside door to my apartment building hallway, I thought I heard some noises but my neighbors have two very yappy dogs, so I thought it was them. But as I got closer to my apartment, the noises sounded different than the yappy dogs so I put my ear to my door – and I was 99% sure I heard Lady with the most gut-wrenching whining. At first I thought she might be hurt so I quickly opened the door but she wasn’t hurt – just scared, lonely or pissed. Or all three.

To be sure it was Lady I heard, when I left after lunch I stood outside my apartment door to listen. Thirty seconds later and the sad whining began. No doubt it’s her. I went back inside and put the radio on for her. It wasn’t stopping her whining when I left again for good, but I’m hopeful.

This whole thing just about killed me. She wasn’t super loud and it’s not that I’m worried about my neighbors so much (like I said, their dogs do nothing but yap all damn day). I just felt badly for her! She was fine in her crate last night by herself so either she was too tired to care last night or doesn’t like being alone. Once I’m sure she’s housetrained, I’ll try leaving her out of the crate for short periods and see if that helps. And if Lucy isn’t an ass, she may be the best solution we have – a constant companion for Lady during the day.

Lady has a vet appointment Friday evening. She came with meds for kennel cough and Lyme disease but definitely needs a good check-up. She only has 3-4 more nights of meds and her cough is still pretty bad. Her skin is also in rough shape; it’s not mange, but it’s more than just a case of the itchies as she has several patches of missing fur. I’m also curious to see how much weight the vet thinks she should gain; I’m guessing at least five pounds. She isn’t spayed and I know she’ll need to put on some serious weight before she can undergo surgery if that’s the route we ultimately take.

I can tell she’s getting a bit more comfortable but for the most part she just sits on one of our two dog mats and shakes. Probably a combination of scared and cold (I’m telling you, she’s scary skinny!). I also think she might be part Chihuahua. She’s definitely mixed with something that has a smaller frame than a pug and I know Chihuahuas are known to shake/shiver. But it breaks my heart. She looks so tiny and scared. But if we already got one happy pug dance out of her in just 12 hours, I know there’s more to come!

Foster Adventure #7…

Get ready for a long one with very few pics…

Tonight I drove to Selinsgrove to drop Lucy off with Marty where she’ll spend the next two weeks. Why?

Tomorrow night I’m bringing home my seventh foster. Meet Lady:image1.PNG

(The above pic is from the shelter)

Normally Lucy wouldn’t be going anywhere with a new foster, let alone for two weeks, but a few hurdles with this foster made it necessary.

On Sunday,  Jan. 29, a request was put out from SNORT to foster a nine-year-old pug mix (that would be Lady) who was in a kill shelter in Maryland and had until Wednesday at 7 p.m. to find a foster home. You can put two and two together and figure out what would happen if a foster home wasn’t found by Wednesday.

I agreed to foster, thinking that it would be like every other foster – I’d bring her home, slowly introduce her to Lucy and then go from there.

Except on Monday morning, SNORT found out that Lady has kennel cough (and more – I’ll get to that in another post) and needed to be kept in a dog-free home for two weeks until the medication ended any threat of her infecting other dogs. Yikes. I am most definitely not dog-free but SNORT also had no dog-free homes available to foster.

Lady started antibiotics on Saturday and apparently within two days was a totally different dog. She went from despondent, detached and nonreactive to playful and friendly. How in the hell could I let a happy, unsuspecting dog be euthanized?

I couldn’t, so with Marty’s support and (immense) help, I am able to foster Lady. Lucy will spend the next two weeks with Marty while Lady finishes up her medication for the kennel cough. After the two weeks are up, I will bring Lucy back home and we’ll begin our “normal” fostering journey.

While every foster is drastically different, bringing home a new foster without Lucy there (for two weeks, no less) is just plain strange. While I know Lucy is in phenomenal hands with Marty, I’ll miss her. She’s been my buddy for the two-plus months I’ve been out here on my own.

Plus, I worry about Lady getting comfortable being the only dog for two weeks when all of a sudden I add Lucy into the mix. And I worry about Lucy walking into my apartment only to discover a new dog who’s gotten plenty comfortable in Lucy’s absence (don’t worry, I’ve already thought of a solution for that one!).

One thing at a time, though. For a change, I can devote all my attention to my foster for the first few weeks (which are undoubtedly the most stressful and chaotic) rather than having to divide my time and attention between two dogs.

I can also get a sense of Lady’s temperament and try to figure out how to best manage the two dogs once Lucy’s home. My apartment is not that big but I picked up a new crate and have a baby gate so we’ll make it work if the dogs wind up having to be separated when alone (or together…).

So to address my aforementioned solution for integrating the two dogs, my plan is to pick Lucy up from Marty’s with Lady in tow. That way they can meet in semi-neutral territory and then walk into their apartment here in Lancaster together. I don’t know what the hell Lucy would do if I walked her into the apartment after two weeks away and she saw Lady curled up on the couch in Lucy’s spot. Nothing good, I’m sure.

And hey, maybe Lady won’t be a typical Velcro pug (hahaha!) and won’t want to be on the couch with us. Or insist on following me everywhere – although even if she does, my apartment is 680 square feet. She’ll quickly find out there’s nowhere far I can go. Maybe Lucy will be her favorite companion, not me.

That’s the nerve-wracking and exciting part about fostering. You almost always have no idea what to expect.

Also, the big variable with this foster? Minus these first two weeks, I’m doing this all on my own. Two dogs. One very tiny apartment. Vet visits, potty breaks (and cleaning up those potty breaks if Lady chooses to take them inside…), mealtimes – all on me.

I guess this is kind of my test as to whether I can foster on my own although it admittedly varies widely based on the specific foster dog. Isaac would have been fine to handle on my own. No health issues, no housetraining issues, etc. Cindy (now Violet) would have been much harder with all her vet visits, housetraining issues, etc. But if I can manage Lady who, from what I can tell, is in need of some serious TLC and attention, I have confidence that while fostering may be a bit less frequent than in the past, it’s still possible.

Wish me luck!

Some Updates

First and foremost, Snowy is scheduled for surgery this Thursday. S.N.O.R.T. found a vet in State College who can do Snowy’s surgeries and had an opening for this Thursday – talk about a quick turnaround!

I’ve never been to this surgeon before but he has worked on at least one other S.N.O.R.T. dog and comes highly recommended. We’re hoping that Snowy will be able to get both eye surgeries (entropian and distichia if needed) as well as her spay. As with any dog but especially bulldogs, most surgeons don’t commit to definitively doing all surgeries at one time. It really depends on how well a dog tolerates anesthesia and with short nosed dogs like bullies, anesthesia is always tricky. Lucy had four surgeries done at once (cherry eye surgery, nares surgery, elongated soft palette surgery and spay surgery) so let’s hope Snowy has similar success!

A cone-headed Lucy recovering from surgeries

A cone-headed Lucy recovering from surgeries

I’ll be dropping Snowy off (and meeting with the surgeon) very early Thursday morning. I did not speak to the surgeon when I scheduled the surgeries but the receptionist said they usually aim to have the dogs return home the day of surgery so I’m crossing my fingers I can pick Snowy up on Thursday afternoon/evening.

Obviously I’m a nervous wreck so I already can’t wait to pick her up hopefully on Thursday!

I think she'll be doing a lot of this for a few days after surgery.

I think she’ll be doing a lot of this for a few days after surgery.

On a similar note, I just received an email from Cindy’s (now Nellie) forever mom who said that Nellie was successfully spayed early last week. I knew she was scheduled for the surgery so I was very glad to get the email saying it had been a success. It apparently wasn’t an easy surgery as she had lots and lots of scarring from all the C-sections she had, but she’s trooper; she’d have to be to endure what she did and still be with us today!

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet with me last spring.

Sweet Cindy waiting at the vet.

And finally, we may have turned a corner on housetraining Snowy. I don’t know if it’s because I very (very) firmly yelled at her last week when she made a mess or whether it’s because her UTI is under control or because the anti-anxiety diffuser I bought is working, but she has been accident-free for five of the last six days. Yes, I did just jinx it but I do think this is the longest she’s gone without any form of accident, day or night. The timing couldn’t be better, either, as she’ll be ready for adoption in the very near future.

Our newly housetrained dog??

Our newly housetrained dog??

And on that note, excuse me while I sob into my pillow.

The Stress of Holiday Travel – Part I

Hard to believe, but one week ago Marty, Lucy, Snowy and I were in the midst of our 36 hours of Thanksgiving travel. As I mentioned before, I was pretty stressed out about traveling with Snowy for a whole bunch of reasons. For the past two weeks or so she had reverted back to leaving messes on our carpet pretty much every day. We think it’s due to separation anxiety but the last thing I wanted was to take her to visit families and have her make a mess everywhere.

Plus, she was in heat and we found out that some of the blood spots we were finding on the carpet were due to a small cut on the pad of her paw. Not exactly a great formula for being good house guests.

But, we figured that if separation anxiety was the main cause of her messes then we could keep that under control on the trip since she’d never be left alone.

Travel buddies

Travel buddies

As we were almost at Marty’s parents’ house I realized I’d forgotten to pack carpet cleaner so we made a pit stop to pick some up. I also packed Snowy’s disposable diapers. We hadn’t gotten the reusable ones from S.N.O.R.T. yet and I knew we needed something in case she was ever left alone.

All in all the trip wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be. Snowy had zero accidents, slept in the guest room with us and we had minimal need for the carpet cleaner I insisted we stop to buy; there were a few tiny spots from her paws but that was it.

I did put a diaper on her during Thanksgiving dinner so we could eat in peace and not wonder what she was doing in the family room by herself but other than that it was totally manageable.

See, Mom? I'm an angel.

See, Mom? I’m an angel.

We’re a little worried when we take a longer trip over Christmas as we hope to spend upwards of six days in New Jersey visiting friends and family – at some point Snowy will be left alone and that’s when I’m worried her separation anxiety will kick in. Hopefully we’ll have her reusable diapers by then which will ease my mind a bit.

Just a cute picture of Lucy resting on Snowy's paw.

Just a cute picture of Lucy resting on Snowy’s paw.

But, this most recent trip was not nearly as stressful as I’d imagined it would be so I’m optimistic we’ll manage Christmas travel just fine.

We’re Halfway There

Hey, I’m from Jersey…I had to work a Bon Jovi reference in somehow 🙂

Anyway, despite having Snowy for almost three months now, we’re still trying to figure out how to get Snowy housetrained. For a few weeks we were accident-free both at night and during the day, so I thought we’d turned the corner but for the past 10 days, Snowy has reverted to having accidents overnight and while we’re at work.

I do think that her being in heat is partly to blame – she is definitely marking more and I guess she figures if she’s going to mark our carpet she may as well take a crap, too. However, I also think separation anxiety plays a big part, too. While she doesn’t get anxious or whine and pace while either of us gets ready to leave, she really only has accidents when no one is home.

At night, an easy solution would be to have her sleep in our bed to ease the separation anxiety but I will not let any dog sleep in our bed, so this is the solution I came up with:

A dog bed next to a human bed

A dog bed next to a human bed

The first night we tried this setup it took an hour of putting Snowy in her own bed, having her hop up on our bed, me putting her back in her bed, etc., etc. After an hour or so, though, she seemed to get used to the idea that she had her own bed and could be near us at the same time.

The outcome? Accident free nights (so far…)!

As the title of this post states, though, we’re only halfway there. I’m still coming home at lunchtime to messes. We tried a doggie diaper but our little escape artist managed to weasel her way out of the diaper. My hope? The doggie undies we’re getting from S.N.O.R.T. should be much, much harder for her to get off, so we’ll keep those on during the day. I’m optimistic that she’ll keep her undies clean, cementing my belief it is indeed separation anxiety, and eventually we can wean her off them.

Sigh. I’m so sick of pee and poop talk. At least she’s being super cute lately.

It's safe to say Marty is becoming her new favorite.

It’s safe to say Marty is becoming her new favorite.

There’s a First Time for Everything

For the first time ever, I diapered a dog.

Lucy is almost as confused as Snowy.

Lucy is almost as confused as Snowy.

There is more than one reason we had to go this route. First of all, Snowy’s in heat. S.N.O.R.T. ordered us a very cute pair of doggie undies but they obviously haven’t arrived yet and things are getting a bit messier so I bought a package of doggie diapers at PetSmart (**updated to add: I came home from work tonight and Snowy had managed to remove her diaper 😦 **)

Reason #2: Snowy has reverted back to peeing and pooping in the house, mostly overnight, but occasionally during the day (like today). I reached out to S.N.O.R.T. to get some help; I successfully housetrained two dogs so I’d like to think I have a bit of experience but I cannot get Snowy housetrained!!

One volunteer suggested that separation anxiety might be the cause of the messes and there could be some validity to that. She primarily pees and poops when we’re not home or are upstairs sleeping, but there are the occasional times she’ll make a mess in another room while we’re home. Still, not ruling it out.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution! If we crate her, she barks (and doesn’t stop. Trust me.) and because we live in an apartment, we can’t let her bark it out. Second, if we let her upstairs at night, she’ll sleep on our bed. Even if we put a dog bed on the floor she’ll hop right up into our big, comfy bed (no one said she was dumb) and I draw the line at sleeping in the same bed as my dog. Third, we do have to work during the day but crating her is ruled out and I can’t bring her to work.

Those eyes kill me...she's so sad

Those eyes kill me…she’s so sad

One suggested solution to the problem was creating a sort of pen for her; something that doesn’t feel like a crate to her but small enough that it might discourage her from soiling where she spends the day while we’re working. I think it’s a very logical next logical step. It would give me flexibility to move the pen around and try a few different spots – for instance, if she wants to be in the same room as Lucy, in a separate room, etc. Heck, I’ll even pen them together if they want!

Anyway, the reason for all this bathroom talk lately (which no one wants to stop having to think about more than me) is that holiday travel is less than a week away and I’m more than mildly freaking out! We HAVE to come up with a solution or else my family is not going to welcome us home with a dog that makes constant messes and I don’t blame them. We cannot kennel her as she is a foster dog and not our own; plus, I love traveling with my dogs! Neither of our families has met Snowy yet and pooping aside, they are going to love her!

I bought this pen today after work, we’ll set it up tonight and then see how it goes:

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As a side note, I got home from work last night around 9:30 and Snowy was making a mess everywhere (don’t get me started on the fact that Marty was home with her while I was at work and yet it went unnoticed she was tracking blood everywhere!). PetSmart was closed so I couldn’t run out to get anything so we grabbed an old pair of Marty’s boxers and put them on Snowy. I was doubled over in laughter from both her insane cuteness and her look of utter disgust. She was not amused. Honestly though, it was hilariously adorable but when I went to take a picture Marty stopped me.

“You can’t put a picture of her in men’s boxers on the internet. It’s not fair to her.”

And he accuses me of treating the dogs like people??

Knock on Wood

This little stinker:

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Might, might be getting the hang of this housetraining thing. For roughly the past two weeks, we’ve made some significant progress with Snowy. First, she’s going more often when she’s outside. What I mean by that is we used to take her out every time we took Lucy out but only very rarely would Snowy do her business; most of the time she’d just stand there licking grass. Now, however, almost every time we take her out she actually does something.

Second, we have had FAR fewer accidents in the house. We went about an entire week late last month without a single accident. I didn’t post about it because I didn’t want to jinx anything although that ended being for naught because, for some reason, she started using the carpet as her own personal bathroom again for a few days early last week. But, since this past weekend, we’re back on a streak of no accidents.

Don’t ask me what’s caused the turnaround and if you check back in a week we might very well be back at square one, but compared to the first weeks that we had her, there are definite signs of progress.

Hey, are you writing about my bathroom habits again??

Hey, are you writing about my bathroom habits again??

We desperately need to get her 100% housetrained because the holidays are right around the corner and if we’re going to visit family she needs to be housetrained or we’ll be spending the holidays by our lonesome!

How it All Went Down

Monday, 8:30 p.m. – Head upstairs to watch TV in bed before going to sleep. Snowy joins me, of course, and spends a half hour literally just lying on my lap. Talk about a heating pad.

Snuggling on MY bed.

Snuggling on MY bed.

9:00 p.m. – Call Marty upstairs as I’m about ready to go to sleep (hey, I have a 5 a.m. wakeup call!); instruct him to lock Snowy in the cage when he comes up to bed later. After many, many nighttime wakeups and Snowy’s persistence in crapping and peeing on the floor in the wee hours of the morning, the cage seems to be the only solution left to try.

9:15 p.m. – Marty says good night, hauls a very sad Snowy downstairs. Bedtime for me!

11:?? – Marty locks Snowy in cage and comes upstairs to go to bed.

Just pretend Butler Blue is Snowy. It's near impossible to lure her into the cage.

Just pretend Butler Blue is Snowy. It’s near impossible to lure her into the cage.

11:45 p.m. – Wake up to incessant barking from Snowy.

11:46 p.m. – Race downstairs to find this:

Yes?

Yes?

and a pile of crap on her bed.

11:47 p.m. – In the midst of our shock, Snowy takes advantage and literally makes a mad dash through the living room and up the stairs (girl’s got some speed). She makes a leaping jump onto our bed before we’ve even made it halfway up the stairs.

11:48 – Marty cleans up, I yell at Snowy, give up and crawl into bed next to her.

In case you missed it in my breakdown of events, Snowy escaped out of a locked cage. I asked Marty this morning if he was positive he locked the crate door and he was pretty sure he did. We’re going to give it one more try tonight. If Little Miss Escape Artist gets out again, I’ve truly lost all hope for a crap-free and pee-free home.

At a Loss

Before I get into the main point of this post, a quick update on life with the doggies. Snowy is an absolute blast and is fitting right in, in large part because of Lucy.

A cute picture of Lucy, just because.

A cute picture of Lucy, just because.

Lucy is a tremendous foster sister; she shows her foster sisters the ropes, tries to get them to play and (sort of) willingly shares her toys.

Chewing Lucy's toy

Chewing Lucy’s toy

And she finally succeeded in her mission to get Snowy to snuggle!

Too cute for words

Too cute for words

If funds were unlimited I would, without a doubt, keep Snowy. Her high energy level fits right in with Lucy, she’s a sweetheart and has so easily adapted to our routine.

If we're in the kitchen cooking, they're in the kitchen.

If we’re in the kitchen cooking, they’re in the kitchen.

However, the one thing Lucy hasn’t seemed to be able to teach Snowy is to DO HER BUSINESS OUTSIDE. Don’t get me wrong, she does do her business outside but maybe 50% of the time. Here’s what I’ve been to figure out so far: Snowy may or may not go when I take the doggies out when I get up at 5 a.m. but she will go 99% of the time right after her breakfast at 6:30 (which I figured out after a few days of coming downstairs to poop and pee on the carpet after my shower).

So, now I take Snowy for a walk around the complex immediately after breakfast. Unfortunately, today I was out running during and after the doggies’ breakfast; Marty went upstairs to change while Snowy was still eating and came downstairs to poop on her bed. Sigh. So now we can’t even go upstairs during breakfast??

The other day I was so proud of her; we went out for our post-breakfast walk and she peed and pooped. I left for work at 8:30 and Marty came back from his bike ride at 9 a.m. to pee and poop on the carpet. Back to square one.

I’m at a total loss as to how to fix this. Actually, I’m not – I guess I have to crate her in the mornings. I just really don’t want to; she spent her entire life to this point in a crate and from the few times we’ve put her in it, she’s resisted, to say the least. But hey, on the bright side at least she’s stopped peeing on our couch (for now).

She’s such a perfect dog in every other way, I just don’t know how to get her house trained. She can obviously hold it as she routinely goes 12+ hours without peeing anywhere at all, there’s just something about the mornings.

We’ll keep working at it because I know she’s a smart dog. Hopefully this will be a blip on the radar soon!