I am standing in the backyard, shivering beneath an umbrella, watching my puppy experience her first snow.
“C’mon, girl. Hurry up,” I say in my most encouraging cheerleader voice. “Go pee!”
As is my custom, I’ve driven home from work for the lunch hour to let Lucy out to do her business.
As is her custom, Lucy is doing everything but her business while I watch and wait with bated breath.
She stretches. She sniffs. She frolics. She sniffs again. She rolls around in the leaves. She sniffs some more.
This has not been an enormous problem until today. Today it is cold. Today it is snowing, and I’m wearing no gloves and a flimsy pair of tights on my legs.
Something tells me it’s going to be a long winter.
“Lucy! Pee-pee time. Pee-pee-pee-pee-pee-pee … Pee!” I cry, as I point my arms repeatedly toward her favorite spot in the yard. I’m actually less cheerleader, more hyperactive flight attendant.
I don’t understand this. The water bowl in her crate was empty. She’s had enough liquid to sink a ship. I guess the old adage is true: You can lead a dog to water, but you can’t make her tink(le).
Hmm, I think. Maybe it’s the “p” word she’s not responding to.
“Go, Lucy. Go Lucy. Go! Go! Go, Lucy!” I shout, bouncing up and down rhythmically to stay warm. (I wonder if the Laker Girls are hiring?)
She’s having none of it. Why? Because she’s 4 months old, fluffy white things are falling from the sky, and there are 2 million different smells on the ground. It’s fascinating stuff, I tell you.
Finally, she wanders over to the corner of the yard, nose to the ground in classic “pre-potty” mode.
“This is it,” I say to myself. “And just in the nick of time. My toes have lost all feeling!”
Suddenly, there’s a sound from the distance — a siren on a street nearby.
Lucy whips her head up at full attention, ears perked, eyes sharp.
Then, she takes off running at top speed. Not toward the sound, mind you, but across the yard in the opposite direction. Running. Running for the sake of running, leaving tiny pawprints in the snow.
Running, just because she can. She’s young and fast, unlike me. I swear, she’s rubbing it in my face.
She dashes to the fence, then back again, lickety-split. I think she’s coming right to me but, at the last second, she takes a sharp 90-degree turn and heads toward the shed. Then, she slams on the brakes, sniffs the ground, and she’s off again.
This would be highly entertaining if it weren’t 30 degrees outside.
My fingers are now numb. And I could use a potty break, too!
“Lucy, come!” I scream, and make my way to the garage door, as if to go inside. This always gets her attention.
She bounds toward me. I stop her cold.
“Sit!” I command. She heels at my feet. Clearly, she senses the urgency.
Gently but firmly, I grasp her pointy little chin with frozen hands.
“Lucy,” I say, looking into her adorable green eyes. “We need to talk, woman to woman.”
She tilts her head slightly, as if to say, “Go on, I’m listening.”
“It’s going to be cold in the next several months. Very cold,” I continue. “And I can’t have you coming out and gallivanting around for 20 minutes before you go to the bathroom. I’ll never survive. You have to focus, Lucy. Focus! Get the job done, girl.
“If I had to give a urine sample on demand to the obstetrician every month for seven months, you can do this. Now, do it!”
At that, I release my grip and watch as my puppy walks 10 steps and dutifully goes No. 1.
“You pee-peed! You pee-peed!” I cheer, jumping up and down, adding a high kick. “Yaaaaaay, Lucy!”
We bolt inside where I make a beeline for the powder room and close the door.
Minutes later, as I prepare my sandwich for lunch, the pup happily gnaws on a chew toy at my feet.
“You see, Lucy?” I say. “We’re both sensible women. All it takes is a little communication. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
I carry my plate to the breakfast bar and notice a telltale odor coming from the family room.
Apparently, Lucy had more business to do.
I’m going to have to add a new cheer to my repertoire.
Cathy Hamilton is a 53-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author, who blogs every day at BoomerGirl.com.