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Despite some smelly accidents, owning a dog has its advantages

I never thought I would be rejoicing over a pile of dog shit. Nor did I think I'd be on poop patrol, searching my house for malodorous smells and substances. But for a new dog owner, it's all part of the experience.

The journey to peaceful coexistence is still in process, but there are encouraging signs. We had a rocky beginning, though.

After picking up the dog from a local rescue in Picture Rocks (D-S Rescue), I drove to a pet groomer. As a person allergic to dogs, cats, horses and other furry creatures, I decided it would be good to have the pet bathed to have a "clean" start. As we pulled into the parking lot, I exclaimed, "We're here!" and then heard the unenthusiastic response in the back seat—splat. Luckily the dog was in a crate; otherwise my seats would have been decorated by a tan, milky mixture.

When I opened the crate door, she probably thought, "Get me the hell out of here!" and ran across the parking lot. Luckily, she hid under a car. Once retrieved, the poor thing looked terrified.

A few hours later, I returned to the groomer to pick up the dog. Note to self: In the future, ask groomer what type of shampoo will be used. My 20-pound dog smelled like some sort of nasty dryer sheet. She also had a cloth napkin tied around her neck. It really wasn't her color.

Driving back home, wheezing from the nasty substance used on the dog, I thought, "We're off to a great start." I later found out many dog shampoos come in gross fragrances such as vanilla, coconut, chamomile and honey, and my favorite—blueberry muffin, oatmeal and aloe. I'm OK with oatmeal and aloe, but blueberry muffin? Why would I want my dog to smell like dessert? I have enough problems with excessive snacking, thank you.

Once inside my house, the dog hunkered down underneath an end table. The look on her face was something like, "I don't know who you are or what you want, but stay away from me." I decided to make her hiding place comfortable, and placed a pet pillow and bowl of water nearby. Now it's one of her favorite spots.

Later that day, I took the dog outside for nature's call. Both the groomer and a friend told me to walk her outside and then she would go. Well, since the dog first lived mostly outside on an enclosed property, a leash was some sort of foreign object to her. So there I was, trying to get the dog to walk, poop or pee. I wasn't choosy.

Partially successful with getting the dog to move on the leash, I wasn't successful getting the dog to go. Nature didn't have the dog's phone number. My coworker called it "that new-place constipation thing." That brought me some comfort. This was normal.

After a wet accident in the bedroom, she got the hang of peeing on puppy pads. Somehow though, the living room carpet became appealing for the other waste product.

After using various sprays (Go Here!, No Go! and Nature's Miracle—uh, not really), I finally had to block off the living room. Since 12 feet of gate was cost-prohibitive, I made a makeshift gate out of various objects: a mobile file cabinet, boxes, an overturned chair, the vacuum, the crate box and whatever else I could find. Somehow the carpet brush and Swiffer mop were scary objects. Ah, some leverage.

So the living room was secure. Bedroom door closed. She had to go on a puppy pad, right? I tried leading her to the pad several times in various places without success. It became a battle of wills. Me, proclaiming I was Alpha Dog. She, not buying any of it.

Finally, at 1:30 a.m. the next day, she relieved herself (both ways) on the puppy pad. It was the first successful poop away from the living room. Hurray.

This little dog—a xolo and pug mix—seems to be getting the hang of it around here, and is a regular night owl like me. I decided to name her Eve.

She and I are getting to know one another. Eve is extremely happy to see me in the morning and when I get home from work. And I'm happy to see that little wagging tail. Being on poop patrol was worth it.

More by Irene Messina

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