When it comes to male dogs, mark my words

When I asked Little Richard’s foster mother if she saw any possible problems that could arise having two male dogs in the house, she chuckled and said,” Oh, no! They’ve both been neutered. They don’t know WHAT they are.”

Made sense to me. Kind of.

Well, I’m here to tell you that two neutered male dogs may not be especially interested in sex, but they remain boys in every other regard. In this case, I’d like to talk about boy dogs and marking.

For the uninitiated, when a dog owner says her pup is “marking,” it’s actually a more civilized way of saying Fido is lifting his leg and peeing on anything that stands still for more than five seconds. What makes an object marking-worthy? Well, there are a variety of criteria.

Anything that smells like another dog has peed on it is fair game, just for starters. My little neighbor girl, Kayla, came over to help me walk the dogs. She has a puppy named Cooper that I’m guessing may have piddled a little on her shoe, probably when no one was looking. As she stood in my foyer chatting, Little Richard took a quick sniff , lifted his leg and decided to “mark” Kayla’s sneaker himself. Just like that. We were agog. And Kayla will never stand still in my house again.

Now, Mick Jagger the Rock Star Dachshund has lived with me for a year and he’s naturally more comfortable  with his surroundings than our new dog. Mick knows what belongs where and doesn’t usually mark in the house (anymore). However, when I found an old pillow backrest in the back of Chris’s closet the other day and brought it downstairs, the last thing that occurred to me was that the green, fluffy triangle might resemble something else to the dogs. I can only surmise that the boys thought a new bush had sprouted on the carpet. Yesterday as I walked back down the stairs to my office, I was astounded to see Mick with leg lifted, having a little squirt on the new greenery. I yelled out in horror just as Richie was circling around for his turn at it.

New plant in the office?

New plant in the office, boys?

When it comes to doggie toileting, nothing says bathroom like a splash of greenery. In fact, I can tell you that my dogs are especially fond of hostas. I would go so far as to say that the hosta is the primo plant for marking, at least for Mick and Richie. Now that spring is in full bloom, they have watered every hosta (and there are plenty) within leash-length during our neighborhood walks.

In between hostas, they also favor large clumps of overgrown grass, the ground beneath pine trees and even a half circle of large, flat stones one neighbor placed on the corner of his lot, presumably to discourage really stupid drivers from taking shortcuts across his grass (it’s not decorated in any other manner to suggest that it’s a landscaping choice). I have to admit I was amused to see Mick back up, squat and deposit poop on one of those rocks just the other day. Luckily, I always come prepared with little baggies to clean up (while I say, “GOOD boy! Good POTTIE OUTSIDE!).

Another disadvantage to having two male dogs is that, as I mentioned before, dogs want to mark where another dog has peed. It’s his way of saying, hey – I was here last, and therefore, this spot is MINE. So more often than not, as soon as Mick has marked a spot, Little Richard circles back to mark on top of Mick’s place (and vice versa). When I’m walking them on their double lead that means I have to pay very close attention and maneuver dog #1 quickly out of the way of dog #2. When I’m not on top of things, the result is that dog #2 may inadvertently mark dog #1 before he has stepped safely away from the chosen hosta or rock.

I have seen this happen from the kitchen window when both boys have targeted a section of fence in the back yard. Before I can even begin to scream, “STOOOOOP!,” one of the boys has been anointed by the other. Mick is especially susceptible to this, being somewhat shorter than Little Richard. Fortunately, Mick is also very easy to drag into the shower for a quick shampoo.

I haven’t tried that yet with Richie. He is a wiggler and a nervous biter, so I’m afraid of having to abandon the effort with a half-sudsy dog and scratches and bites everywhere (yes, I do mean everywhere; I don’t wear clothes in the shower, even with a dog). In addition, I have never had a dog with so much HAIR. He really looks a lot like Chewbacca from “Star Wars.”

I don’t know what he will be like wet, or how he will dry. Can you brush or comb a wet dog? If you don’t, will he dry in matted clumps? I just made another appointment for him at Kristy’s Kritters for bathing and a nail trim next week. I will ask for their advice, I guess. I don’t want to take away their business, but what if he gets filthy from something and I can’t get him an appointment for a week? A dog mom needs to know.

Anyway. My advice for a one-dog family considering adding to the menagerie? If I had it to do over again, I think I would have gotten a girl. Don’t let anyone tell you neutering makes them into passive little eunuchs. Not true. Rich marked a blouse I had hanging from a doorknob simply because he wasn’t used to seeing anything there. I might add that it was a green print – but aren’t dogs supposed to be color blind? Regardless, I got out of the shower and saw this little yellow pool on the floor next to my formerly clean top. After the initial shock, I couldn’t help laughing. What can you do, except stop ever putting anything NEW anyplace within marking distance?

I love my boys and wouldn’t change a thing. But do yourself a favor. If you already have a male dog, consider making your second dog a girl. Even if she is a little bitch.

One response to “When it comes to male dogs, mark my words

  1. Oh, Kate, this is too funny. I have 4 dogs, and let me tell you this! 2 are girls, 2 are boys. Don’t let anybody tell you different, they MARK their territory, especially when you have 2 boys!!!!! I have my 14 year old Male dachshund, Oscar, who is a perfect angel when I take him to my Florida home with my little female, Khloe. He proudly goes to the door to do his business and NEVER marks inside the house! However, when we come home, he is horrible. He marks his territory to show my 110 lb. boxer he’s a boy. I’ve caught my boxer doing the same behind him in my house! Yes, you gotta love ’em, but you’ve been duped by Little Richard’s foster mother! LOL

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