Friday, December 13, 2013

Azamara Quest: Doing What Dogs Do

We left Miami at sunset, heading north. As it happens, there is another service dog aboard. Both were given bath-towel-sized mats made of artificial grass -- puppy potties. The other dog (an elderly Westie) has no problem with this arrangement, but  Xingxing won’t go near it.  Apparently, it hurts his feet. (It doesn’t feel anything like grass; more like blunt, plastic needles) 
Azamara Quest staff were more than willing to accommodate us. They built Xingxing a 4x4 shallow wooden box, filled it with cedar chips and placed it at the sheltered end of one of the decks. I bought a little, plastic replica of a fire hydrant which is supposedly impregnated with smells that encourage a dog to pee on it, and I put that in the box as well. Xingxing jumped into the box and walked round and sniffed, but it was clear he did not associate it with doing what dogs do.

We were at sea all day and all night. Xingxing didn’t pee, and didn’t poop.  The cedar chips were brand new and they didn’t smell right. (The plastic fire hydrant was also unconvincing) Xingxing was waiting to be taken outdoors.  Problem was, outdoors was the Atlantic Ocean.
I was getting frantic.  So I approached the owner of the Westie. I was thinking maybe if her dog would pee in Xingxing’s box, it might get things rolling.  When I explained the problem, she gave me a withering look and said her dog was trained. End of conversation. In her place, I’d have wanted to help. She didn’t.  
When we finally got off the ship at Charleston -- our first port of call -- Xingxing lifted his leg and peed for nearly a minute, non-stop. Then he pooped. And then he pooped again. Problem solved, for the moment. But when we leave Charleston, we’ll have two full days at sea.
A local veterinarian suggested that while we were on land, I soak up Xingxing’s urine with bits of newspaper, which I could then tear into small pieces and scatter among the cedar chips.  Or I could try catching his urine in a paper cup.  Have you ever tried catching a small dog’s urine in a paper cup?   I went with the newspaper.
Xingxing would lift his leg and then I’d carefully sop it up with newspaper.  The first time I did this in the streets of Charleston a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder.  Really, he said.  You don’t have to do that.  I guess he thought I was being a truly, truly responsible dog owner!
I don’t know what we’ll do if this doesn’t work.  But I’m hoping it will.

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