Potty Patch

While most people are dealing with the horrible flu virus going around this season, I’ve been nursing a slew of mysterious ailments in one of my four-legged children – Murphy, our mutt with a mysterious lineage. She looks (to me) like a German Shepherd fell in love with a Spitz, and mother nature laughed and gave their child that big Shepherd torso, on top of those little Spitz legs, with an adorable curly tail.

Somehow, my sweet girl twisted one of her front paws and has had trouble walking for the last three weeks. The vet never could figure out exactly what was wrong, but instructed me not to let her jump or climb, so I’ve been lifting her into bed at night and carrying her up and down the 7 steps that lead from our back deck to our back yard. Yesterday, just as she appeared to start bearing full weight on her front paw, she managed to injure her ACL and tear her meniscus in one of her back legs. So now her movement is restricted for the next 4 to 6 weeks, while she (hopefully) heals. She can stand to eat and drink and relieve herself, and needs some moderate controlled exercise every day, so her muscles don’t atrophy. Beyond that, she’s in full princess-on-a-pillow mode.

Carrying my 42-pound bundle of love up and down the back stairs has been quite the aerobic workout for me, and an outright adventure in bad weather. One morning, when everything was covered in ice, I had to sit down, with her in my lap, and scooch down the stairs, as if I were her chair lift. I teased my youngest son, saying “If you come home from school one day and can’t find me, check the back stairs and call an ambulance.” He didn’t find the humor in that. My mother wasn’t amused, either, when I told her about my daily brush with death, and admonished me to not attempt it when I’m home alone.

This whole situation was starting to overwhelm me. The bladder wants what the bladder wants, so I don’t know how successful I’d be telling Murphy to cross her legs until the boys get home. Plus, my other dog, Fitz, is turning 12 this year and showing signs that his hips are feeling every one of those 12 x 7 years. So it won’t be long before he needs help and then what will I do? He’s a Siberian Husky – not incredibly heavy, but big enough that carrying him isn’t an option, except in emergencies. The angle of the stairs is too steep for a ramp (we tried one with our first dog and he never used it, because he didn’t trust the incline), and we have stairs outside our front door, too.

I know, first-world problems, but a problem I was facing multiple times a day and looking at facing for several months, if not longer. So, I figured if I could no longer get my dogs to the back yard, I’d have to bring my back yard to my dogs. Allow me to introduce you to our potty patch.

When it warms up just a bit, I’ll build a very shallow box and fill it with dirt and grass seed. I have no doubt it will be quite lovely and welcoming. For now, however, I dumped soil from garden containers (you can see some of it is so frozen it wouldn’t break down), then added leaves from the nooks and crannies around my porch and some, let’s say “samples,” of what the dogs are supposed to do in this pile of dirt. I’m happy to report it worked like a charm!

It’s not a cure for cancer, but it feels pretty ingenious all the same, and it certainly cured what’s ailing me. Now I can focus on curing what’s ailing Murphy and stop griping at her to “hurry up and finish!”


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