I only wish I had photos or video to accompany this post - unfortunately that would entail retroactively outfitting my home with surveillance cams. Oh, well. Life is full of little disappointments.
Yesterday I arrived home from work to be greeted at the front door by Tucker & Phoebe. Both welcomed me with their usual enthusiasm, and that was great. Except that, when I left the house that morning, Phoebe had, uncharacteristically, been left in her kennel rather than loose in the house, and therefore should not have been ABLE to meet me at the door.
The reason she had been left in her kennel, which she is almost never in, is because, also uncharacteristically, she had pooped on the living room floor in the middle of the previous night. Not because she was sick, (which would have given her a free pass), but because it had been raining the previous night when it was time for the pre-bedtime potty ritual. Phoebe hates to get her feet wet, and likes even less actually getting rained on. The living room floor being dry both underfoot and overhead, she obviously concluded that this was a much more hospitable location to do her nightly business and apparently snuck out of bed to dispatch said business after I had fallen asleep. (She has, maybe three or four times in five years, done this before, and I no more agreed with her conclusion this time than I had before. I'll also admit to having scolded her mildly both those other times and this most recent one - and although I know conventional wisdom holds that dogs don't understand scolding or punishment when said negative consequence doesn't occur immediately after the indiscretion, no one has ever explained this to Phoebe. Because when I woke up yesterday morning, she would NOT get out of bed and come into the living room, knowing as she did what I would find, and knowing, as well, what my reaction would be to having found it.)
DISCLAIMER: I am not one to shout at my dogs, or punish them physically. For one thing, I don't believe in it, nor have I ever found it to be necessary, especially with these two. I can ruin Tucker's whole day with a simple look - he is the most sensitive dog I have ever lived with. Phoebe is much the same, though not quite as bad, but nonetheless, she was very aware that I would not think picking up poop first thing in the morning was my idea of a great time, and was not keen to meet with my disapproval. In fact, it was her staunch refusal to accompany the rest of us to the kitchen for the morning dispensation of treats, usually one of the highlights of her day, that first clued me in to the fact that something was not as it should be, and once I was on the lookout, it didn't take me long to spy the Tootsie-roll size poops on the living room floor. These offending little rolls were dispatched easily enough, but them being there in the first place still ticked me off, so after I had flushed them down the toilet, I went to find Phoebe, who was hiding under the covers doing an Oscar-worthy imitation of a dead dog.
"That was a bad girl, Phoebe," I told her, in much the same matter of fact tone as I would say the same thing to a kindergarten aged school-child (although, one would hope, not for the same offense - to wit - having pooped on the living room floor.) No response. "Do you hear me?" No response - perhaps the slightest twitch of a tail. Until, finally, a singsong "Phoebe!" prompted her to return to her body from whatever inward place she had gone to marinate in the intense shame of such an egregious breach of decorum. (And yes, this is all very much tongue in cheek. I don't really believe that Phoebe was feeling true shame at having pooped on the floor. She most certainly, however, knew that she had erred, and how.)
Because it was still raining, she didn't want to go out to potty after her morning snack, either, save for a brief 90 second dash out to the nearest patch of grass to pee. So to spare us both a repeat of the morning's Tootsie Roll incident, I decided to let her spend the day in her kennel, since the dogs were not coming to work yesterday because I had clients coming in. To ensure that she continues to view the kennel as a happy place, I left her with a deliciously stuffed Kong, and departed.
And that, naively, is where I expected to find her when I returned home yesterday evening. I had not, however, reckoned on Tucker. Tucker, it is worth noting, has a well-deserved nickname among my family and friends, who often refer to him as Tucker the Tapper. His front paws are far more dexterous than any dog paws I've ever seen, and he is wont to use them to "tap" at things that interest him. He can close doors in this way (unfortunately he can't open them again, which many times has resulted in him locking himself in various rooms and being unable to get out again until I come home to let him out), and in the event he wants to get my attention, he has a habit of slamming the hall door with a force and volume that is pretty impressive when you consider he only weighs fifteen pounds. Visitors to my home who were not in the know might assume, upon hearing this loud slam with no human in the vicinity, that my 1920s abode is inhabited by a poltergeist. Hey, what can I say ... it keeps life interesting.
He's also intensely curious about his surroundings, and rather than use his nose to investigate, he is more often apt to use his feet. Any random item of interest to him is sure to be tapped, usually until he knocks it over, or causes it to move or shift position in some way. I don't know why he does this - but he's been doing it since he came to me at ten months old, and it's just something that I accept as part of who he is. Most of the time I find it charming.
Yesterday, however, was not one of those times. Because, in fact, the reason why Phoebe was not in her kennel where I left her is not because someone had broken into the house, let her out, and departed without stealing anything, and as far as I know, my home is not inhabited by a poltergeist. It was because Tucker, uncharacteristically left at home during a work day and deprived of his sister's company, undertook to use his incredibly dexterous forelimbs to tap! tap! tap! at the door of the kennel until he could shift the latch enough to allow Phoebe to push the door open from the inside and free herself.
There was not, however, any poop on the living room floor.