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Training A Butterfly

            Butterfly peed on the living room rug. She started by peeing on the hardwood floor in front of her food bowl, but then it was the rug, in front of me. She may have thought we kindly went out and bought her an expensive, floor wide, wee wee pad. She had been, mostly, potty trained, but this reminded me that I needed to get back to work.

Butterfly and her rug.

Butterfly and her rug.

I haven’t been very focused on training Butterfly since we moved to the new apartment in May. My big goals, since she came home from the shelter last November, were: to train her to pee and poop outside, and walk on a leash, and climb stairs, and respond to her name. And she learned everything, at her own unique pace.

            Cricket had her own list of skills to teach Butterfly, like the appropriate way to greet humans when they return home (jumping in the air and hyperventilating), and how to really walk on a leash (pulling your human where you want to go), and how to bark to get what you want.

Butterfly can now beg for food while standing on her back legs.

Butterfly can now beg for food while standing on her back legs.

            Butterfly has also learned, on her own, that she can say no. If we take her outside, and she pees right away, she will sit down on the sidewalk and stiffen her neck, because she has finished her work and does not want to walk any further. This is the first time I’ve seen, up close,  the biblical image of a ”stiff necked people,” all in one tiny dog. She is, if possible, more stubborn than Cricket. She doesn’t bite or bark or whine, she just refuses to move. And when her mind is made up, it stays that way.

            My renewed training efforts have been focused on teaching her the verbal commands Cricket learned in her puppy classes, like “sit” and “down.” Cricket is an impatient role model, though, and expects twice the treats for her efforts to show her sister the ropes, so we are running through chicken treats at a very fast clip.

The girls are ready for their chicken treats, um, training session.

The girls are ready for their chicken treats, um, training session.

            I’d never really planned to do this kind of training with Butterfly. I figured, at eight years old, after a life in a puppy mill, she shouldn’t have to work so hard. And really, she is as close to perfect as she could be already.

Butterfly, already her best self.

Butterfly, already her best self.

            A few months ago, I noticed white butterflies massed in front of our apartment building, specifically in front of our building, and not the ones on either side of us in the complex. They fluttered all over the place, in packs, kissing leaves and being beautiful and doing as they pleased. Logically, I’m sure, they are here because the plants in front of our building are especially attractive to white butterflies, but I would like to believe that they recognized that my little white dog was their kin, and they came to be with family, and train her how to be a butterfly.

The butterfly family, checking in.

The butterfly family, checking in.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

61 responses »

  1. Your Butterfly reminds me of my Gracie. Not only will Gracie sit while taking our (her) walk, but she may also decide this is a wonderful spot for a quick snooze..!! We love them all the same..!!

    Reply
    • I knew an English Bulldog who took any opportunity to sit down, or full on go to sleep, on his walks. His dads made sure to keep him moving, because if he did sit down, he was impossible to get back up again.

      Reply
  2. Oh man, sorry about the rug. We got rid off our rugs because Donna has a tendency to pee on them when it thunders. Life sure sounds lively with both Cricket and Butterfly 😀 And you are awesome for taking it all in your stride 😉

    Reply
    • We have to have rugs. Our co-op requires that the floors be eighty percent covered, and not just with wee wee pads (which the girls would love!). The benefit of rugs over wall to wall carpet is that I can pick up the rug and check if the pee bled through to the floor (and it didn’t, Yeah!). I just have to keep the anti-pee spray close at hand.

      Reply
  3. What a lovely post! Woof!

    Reply
  4. How cute that the white butterflies came for visiting your Butterfly. Sorry for your rug, I hope Butterfly will use her brandnew wee-wee-box from now on.

    Reply
  5. Simple Solution is on tap at our house. Great dogs. What kind are yours? They look very much like Russian Balonkas a friend of ours breeds.

    Reply
    • Cricket is a Cockapoo and Butterfly is a Lhasa Apso. We have jugs of anti-pee spray in most rooms, and in the car too (works well on vomit). And the girls don’t even mind the smell, they just miss the nostalgic odor of their own pee.

      Reply
  6. Nobody is perfect. Butterfly is entitled to a little flaw or two. 😉 She and Cricket are so adorable. I like the idea butterflies paying homage to their namesake.

    Reply
  7. Run A Muck Ranch

    Sounds like your training, as in Butterfly’s training of you, is going quite well!

    Reply
  8. We went on 11 day trip. Kaci never had an “accident”. We come home and she pees outside but thinks the living room is OK for poo. Not only OK, but “the place”.

    Reply
    • Oh Kaci, you must have been so relieved to be home! Butterfly did that once, at my brother’s house, while being chased by a black lab puppy. We were promptly sent outside, in the snow, for the next two hours.

      Reply
  9. Of course Cricket would expect treats. Too cute. 🙂
    We make our own dog treats sometimes and always find the recipes on the Bullwrinkle website. I don’t do links on friend’s pages, so you’ll have to get to the site, scroll down to “dog treats.” The cookies featured in one of my recent posts is the Peanut Butter Poppers. I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t like them and they’re easy and inexpensive to make.

    “Jumping in the air and hyperventilating” had me cracking up. I’m glad to have a little dog because whenever we see Pierre’s friend, Sasha, she does that to me. Much tougher to get jumped on by a 75 pounder than my little 10 pounder, you know!

    Great post!

    Reply
  10. Nice post, but a tough time on carpets, floors, chairs etc

    Reply
    • Butterfly sometimes thinks she’s a puppy and goes to chew on the furniture, and then she changes her mind and goes for something easier, like my pile of recipes, or a notebook, or a textbook that cost $120. Then she looks at me as if to say, look at my beautiful artwork, mommy!

      Reply
  11. Hoping all the best for you and sweet Butterfly with her training. Love the last part of this post…so sweet. Butterfly and Cricket both are just adorable. Hugs and nose kisses

    Reply
    • Thank you! She’s learning how to sit, though it only works with chicken treats and hasn’t quite expanded to chicken sandwich yet. She loves to jump up on her back feet to grab treats, so flying shouldn’t be too far away.

      Reply
  12. Another great post, Rachel! Made me smile, ruefully, because I was woken up this morning by the charming sound of my Labradoodle vomiting on the carpet–the one I paid a king’s ransom to have cleaned two weeks ago–right next to my bed. Love my girlie to pieces, but have to find a way to tactfully let her know she’s not to do that and then try to kiss me Good Morning! Yuck!

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  13. I LOVE that the white butterflies came to visit, that is so magical!!!! Yes, they indeed came to visit sweet Butterfly!!!! Blessings to you and your furr babies always!!!! -Hugs

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  14. Love the :”Butterfly” and all her little friends. So sweet.

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  15. I like your interpretation of the butterflies’ presence. Your pups are just SO adorable!

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  16. Butterfly so reminded me of when Baby our Mastiff/Boxer mix gets taken for a walk in the afternoon sometimes she decides it is time for her to nap in the sun. For AT least five minutes. You know, get her vitamin D. She taught us to let her nap in the sun on the back porch BEFORE we take her for a walk. At 90 lb she is too heavy to pick up or even nudge. I moved her 6 inches once and she stayed limp the whole time and finished her 5 minutes in the new spot. Hey, I’m learning.

    Reply
    • I am very lucky that Butterfly is amenable to being picked up. She flattens her whole body to the ground and becomes dead weight. But she’s only 14 pounds, so I can handle it. If she decides to gain a pound or two, well, that could be another story.

      Reply
  17. Lots of luck with the training. Personally, I’d consider potty training a dog to be the hardest. But then again, owning a pet is a big responsibility and training every aspect of it has its own difficulties.

    Anyway, thank you for liking a post on my blog. 🙂
    Just started blogging again, and its really encouraging that I may have in some way touched someone’s life with one of my posts.

    Lots of love and more power to you, Rachel and your cute little angels. 🙂

    Reply
  18. She is doing really well, despite (it sound like) no guidance from Cricket!

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  19. You are a good teacher and very patient , the only way to go. Cuddles to both little Beauties. x

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    • Butterfly actually let me sleep in this morning. Something tells me she’s throwing me a bone, and it won’t happen again. Or, yesterday’s training and playing and scratching sessions actually DID wear her out.

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  20. My little Cookie likes to eat her poo. And i cant stand it! Does anyone have any idea how to stop this?

    Reply
    • They have diet additives at the pet store, like a chewable vitamin or powder to add to the dog’s food, that’s supposed to make the poop unattractive to the dog. Butterfly licked at her poop like ice cream when she first came home, and I almost threw up on her. Once she learned to only poop only on walks, I had the leash to tug on, just in case she went in for a lick.

      Reply
  21. Here in South Australia it is Wednesday 4th September and Sunset. !!!

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  22. In shamanic terms, Butterfly is a wonderful totem animal to embrace: the spirit of the butterfly is about the ability to go through important changes with grace and lightness.

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  23. I love the caption under one of Butterfly’s photos: “Butterfly, already her best self.” That was a sweet statement. That was a profound, insightful statement.

    Reply
  24. Once again you’ve put a smile on my face as I read the latest story about Cricket and Butterfly. 🙂

    Reply
  25. A lovely post. It really made me smile. Thank you for that. Fortunately my two had both been potty trained before we got them and for the most part they are very good. Daisy has had the odd accident but its mostly because we have failed to understand that actually she is asking to go outside. So in the end entirely our own fault. Cricket and Butterfly sound like real characters and are obviously in a very happy place.
    Bright blessings
    x.

    Reply
    • I think Butterfly is waiting by the front door at this moment, pining for Grandma, who’s been away for maybe an hour. These girls keep the drama level high, just where I like it.

      Reply
  26. Hi, Rachel 🙂 I’ve just tweeted this and three other of your fantastic posts. Merry Christmas!

    Reply

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