As a puppy-raiser, I’m asked all the time how I can bear to turn in one of the dogs I’ve raised. I often explain that for me the experience is a little childbirth. While the turn-in days are horrible, as soon as they’re over, I forget how devastated I felt. Similarly, once a puppy stops doing bad things, I tend to forget he or she ever did them. That was a big reason why I started this blog: I wanted to be able to store such details in a permanent record.

The only problem, I’ve discovered, is that once a puppy is more than a few months old, it can feel shameful to reveal the bad stuff. You want all your puppies to graduate and forever change lives for the better. If they keep making the most basic mistakes, you begin to fear the worst: that they just don’t have the right stuff.

For that reason, I hate to say it, but yesterday morning Darby once again squatted on our Oriental carpet and peed a rather substantial amount of pee. She did the same thing in mid-December (and had NOT done it anywhere in the house for months and months before that.) But now she’s more than 13 months old, “and still not housebroken,” Steve noted mournfully. What’s more basic than housebreaking?

We speculate that maybe she was just excited. I had just walked in after being out for several hours and was tossing the ball for her. (Still, seven-year-old Tucker never ever has such lapses.) Whatever the cause, we can only hope one day after she graduates, we’ll look back at this post and take comfort. It will remind us that even the best dogs, even the stars, can have a bad moment when they’re puppies.

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