We had to put our  beloved dog, Brandy to sleep last summer, and our house has been empty, dog-wise at least, until Jody, a labrador/poodle mix came to live with us a month ago.  She is a sweet three month old, with a lot of energy and not much common sense.  Of course, she is still a baby and I guess babies themselves don’t have a lot of common sense, so I shouldn’t be so harsh.  After all, babies don’t come out of the womb knowing how to use the toilet, so why should I expect anything different from a puppy?  The problem is,  she is a fanatic about only peeing on a pile of newspaper.  We have to be very careful not to leave any paper lying around lest she pee on yesterday’s top story which I have not had a chance to read.  We have been desperately trying to get her to go outside, but she has developed this irrational fear of  going anywhere OTHER than on the newspaper.  She seems to be very stuck in her ways, because at the dog park she ran around and played with the other puppies for a few hours, and she did not leak so much as a drop of pee.  Have you ever heard of a dog that plays in an area where there are other dogs and it does NOT mark it’s territory, or at least leave a little fragrant sample for others?  Not Jody…she held it in until we come home, when she ran straight for the newspaper and peed a massive amount, like she has been holding it all in for hours, (which she clearly HAD.) Poor President Obama’s news would not get read that day.

I began to move the newspaper closer to the back door so she would get the idea that she should be doing  it outside.  She was getting there…closer and closer.  Finally, I eliminated the paper altogether and left the back door open for her to go outside whenever she wanted.  (Fortunately, it was not one of those days where we got a freak snow storm.)  She went outside to play.  She went outside to dig in the dirt.  She went outside to swat bugs from her face.  She went outside to chew on the branches of a nearby tree.  But she would not go outside to pee.  Sensing her distress, I did the only thing I could think of; I put a piece of newspaper outside. She ran straight as an arrow to use it.  Now, she goes to the door, barks, I let her out, and she pees on the newspaper.  If there is no paper, she looks at me with a forlorn expression, and just stands there…it appears that my newspaper subscription will have to be doubled!

Yesterday, I drove Jody up to visit with Marie, (who attends a  residential school for children who are deaf.) Marie loves animals, but they do not take to her too kindly because her semblance of speech is loud and guttural, (even scaring me if I was alone in a dark room and didn’t know she was there.) When she called the dog, she scared the poor puppy, which cowered. Marie looked at me with a great sadness. HOW could the puppy not LIKE her?  Then she called the dog again, but as I stood behind her, under my breath, I also called the dog, which came running to us.  Marie angrily turned and looked at me.  “YOU called her,” she signed in ASL, “I saw your lips move”, obviously with the eyes she has in the back of her head.  She was devastated the dog would not come for her alone.  So, we tried it again.  This time, I put a large smile on my face and forced a cheery “Jody!!!” through my smile, not moving my lips.  The dog came running, Marie was happy that I had not called her, (?) and my lips didn’t move a bit!  (Try it….)  The fact that her friends and teachers to whom she introduced the dog were also deaf was also a lucky break on my part because they couldn’t squeal on me.

Okay, so it was a little bit dishonest on my part, but what parents don’t do things a little bit out of the ordinary to see their children happy?  Nothing feels better than the warm heart you get when you see your children smile, and Marie was smiling a lot that day.  Besides, the dog will soon learn to love Marie as we do, even though she can be a little loud and scary…




I would love to come and speak for your group or at your conference.  I would do it for free, but would need the price of travel. For functions in the North East, that would be only gas money.

Link to my book

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:


Comments on: "A Name a Ventriloquist Would Love…" (95)

  1. I of course tried to say “Jody” while smiling and without moving my lips, you’re right, it works! Great post 🙂

  2. Enjoyed your post. Made an appointment for Sat morning at 12.20 to put our 16 year old dog to sleep! I have two days to prepare my eleven year old. I feel like an executioner!

    • Our vet did a remarkable job making us feel as comfortable as possible with the whole thing. She was so sweet and considerate, letting us lay on the floor on a big, new dog blanket and cuddle with our dog while she was given valium to relax her. It was very sad, but done in the nicest way possible. And, at 16, our dogs have lived a long life.

      • It is so sad but managing my youngests grief will make it worse. Mind you I know within a week she will be looking for a puppy and I will be alone with my grief! Thats life and your post resonated with me as it shows life afterwards.

    • Yocheved said:

      {{{hugs}}} Our 13 year old pug is fading fast, and I’m going to have to make the big decision soon. My 9yo is not going to take it well, although she’s already planning on getting a pair of chihuahuas from rescue. I’ve been secretly applying to adopt some so that she won’t grieve for Daisy too long.

      George Carlin said something to the effect of “Pets are just heartbreak waiting to happen.”

      • Oh George Carlin knows a thing of two. Gave our dog two dinners today, and every titbit of food she looked for. This waiting is awful, but do not want to do it on a school day. Thanks so much for the kind thoughts.

  3. Aww, that was sweet. I’m not a parent, but could greatly appreciate what you did for Marie!

  4. Have tried another stimulus for the dog to associate with peeing? I know we had trouble with one our dogs as a puppy because she kept getting UTIs. We hung a bell from the back door, and made her hit it with her paw when she wanted/needed to go out. It was the best potty training we’ve had for any of our dogs. It sounds like your dog needs the stimulus of the news paper to feel allowed to pee. So why not try ringing a bell every time she heads for the paper? Then over time, you can try ringing the bell to go outside for the paper, and finally just to go outside. You can also train her to ring the bell. After all, she should train you too. It’s only fair. If the famous behavioral psychology dog/bell experiment can get dogs to drool, surely it can get a dog to pee? Labs and poodles are both smart dog breeds, so the transference of stimulus association shouldn’t take too long. Good luck.

  5. Our Rhodesian Ridgeback also had to be assisted to join fellow canine friends in doggy heaven last year, pretty traumatic, looking forward to the twelve months to pass we will be getting our addition next June. Hope all continues to be well with you and yours & thank you for the continued support.

  6. Your new dog is adorable. Hopefully with time and patience you will get her to go outside and pee without the paper. Be glad she is only peeing on paper. When my kids got their dog and she wanted to go out or got mad she would go in my bedroom and pee on my bed or floor. She looks to me to let her out(I guess she knows the kids are undependable). What you did for your daughter is a testament to motherly love. I know that with time your dog and daughter will become best buddies. Keep us informed.

  7. She’s beautiful! I am sure she will learn Marie’s voice soon – like you said, she’s just a baby. And your helping them get to know each other is priceless!

  8. She’s so cute! Lucky you!!! We had to put our Chocolate Lab of 11 years to sleep last year, and I miss her like crazy. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for us to get another dog right now, so we have to content ourselves with our cats and chickens instead. It seems like dogs often bond the most to those who feed them, so I suggest letting Marie feed her and give her lots of treats, along with helping to train her. 🙂

  9. Yocheved said:

    Poor Marie! Can she be trained to modulate her voice down a notch? (I have to do this with my husband, he had a booming voice that you can hear in the next county! I give him hand signals, with my hand flat, palm down, in a downward motion. He’s very hard of hearing, and won’t admit it.)

    The newspaper thing is hysterical. I guess a dog can be “too” well trained! Reminds me of a time when I was rooming with a woman who was an attorney. I got a new puppy, and I told her a thousand times to not leave her papers on the floor. Guess which REALLY important case files got peed on? LOL!

  10. I, too, had a Rhodesian Ridgeback. She was very old and on the way to the vet to have her put to sleep, my husband decided to take her for a ride through some of the beautiful back roads with the hatchback door up so she could see out. When he got to the highway and went back to close the door, she had peacefully passed. It was like she had seen her world for the last time and was good with that.

  11. We had a Chihuahua puppy that was paper trained when we brought her home. First thing we did was name her Dolly and then found out the lady across the street was also Dolly. The next was the dreaded paper training. She could hit homework, catalogues, even a gum wrapper but wouldn’t go outside. We also tried moving the paper to the door and on outside but she would patrol the house until she found a scrape of anything then, ready, aim, fire!

  12. When Evan went to ‘Independence College’ for 18 months we were left in charge of his ONLY friend, Tia a chihuahua. One evening she disappeared when let out to pee. We had moved to ‘wilderness’ to build house and by the reaction our big dogs have to hawks and owls now, we think Tia was stolen like Toto was by a flying monkey. I had to ‘lie’ about her being gone, until he came home for a visit, so he would not grieve at school. — He now has a poodle he found on the way home from work one night– She not being raised around his ‘language’ she can not understand his ‘Mattie” especially when he uses the wrong pitch. He too gets so frustrated when she comes when I call her- It is great training for him to have to think about annunciating, and lowering his voice. I also have learned to give Mattie the evil eye so she will run from me to him 😉

    • Oh….his poor chihuahua….
      We worked for years to get Marie to tone down her voice to little avail, especially when she is excited, (as she was when she saw the dog.) Once the dog realizes she’ll pet her to death, I’m sure she’ll be glad to go to her. She just needed a little extra coaxing in the beginning…

  13. My blogger friend at can help you with your doggie issues, she is great!

  14. I love your story about your daughter and Jody. Such a wonderfully loving and “mom” thing to do for her, and I can tell, just from reading your post, that it must have made her day.

    Good luck with your housebreaking issues. It can be a hard thing. I haven’t read the previous comments, so I don’t know if someone else might have already mentioned this, but I’m going to take a chance, anyhow. 🙂

    I had a friend who had this same problem. Their dog would only pee on newspaper. My friend had trained the dog to do this, in a way, because they were using the paper training method for housebreaking. The problem was that the dog ended up being too well trained, and, thus, wouldn’t go outside on the grass. My friend ended up doing much what you have done: moved the paper closer and closer to the door and finally putting the paper outside. Then, they would go outside with the dog and, just as their pooch was about to go, they would jerk the paper away, so that their dog ended up peeing on the grass. This was followed by praise and treats. It took a bit of time, but my friend’s dog got the hang of it.

  15. Great story. I do hope you have good luck with housebreaking your Labradoodle. They’re a pretty good size dog!

  16. That’s a masterful title! So clever. I am so boring with my titles…..
    My little doggie Pooh, (guess why we named her that?) just piddled on the tiles in front of our door again. I wish she’d learn to use the back door, which we have kept open for her!
    She “forgets” sometimes and goes to the front door, can’t get out and pees on the tiles.
    This time made me really angry tho, as we are renovating and I had packed a box of my beloved books and left them by the door for Fitty to take out to storage. The pee leaked all under the box and soaked into the bottom of my books!!
    If only she was newspaper trained?

  17. I’m not sure what to tell you about the only using newspapers potty thing, your dog must have been trained ONLY to do that from wherever she was before you got her. They do have stakes/brick things that you can put in the yard to encourage them to pee in that area. Lots of treats and praise when she goes where you want! I saw in the comments above that someone recommended a potty bell on the door, if you can get your labradoodle to use it, they’re great! Of course labradoodles are smart! They’ve got the best of both breed. 🙂 If she doesn’t improve you can always go to like a Petco or Petsmart and ask the dog trainers there what they’d recommend. They’ll usually give you some good (and free!) advice.
    If your daughter’s voice scares the puppy, have her give Jody lots of treats and pets when she comes to her. Maybe try with hand motions, dogs can learn hand signals too. We’ve trained our corgi to do both voice commands and hand signals. You might have to do the training initially but then you’d be able to teach them both. Lots of treats when you get the actions you want! 😉

  18. Great post. You are quite an inspiration. Good luck with the housebreaking (newspaper breaking as it were….)

  19. We just put our 17 yr old cat down ~ so very sad so I understand. Glad you have a new Jody! You are such an inspiration! I am so glad we’ve connected!

    • So sorry about your cat. I think it is awful that pets do not live as long as people…that means we have to go through heartbreak several times in our lifetime…
      Thanks for “connecting”.

  20. Such a sweet story and very clever title! 🙂

    • I enjoyed your post from the off as we have a 16 month old cockerpoo.. She is a little crazy too! I think it’s the poodle.. she is black and white so a bit more unusual than the beige ones, like yours. It has taken her whole life to thus far to enjoy cuddles with my daughter.. She insists on squeezing rather than stroking her and gets upset that ‘she loves daddy more’. It was almost becoming a sibling rivalry and no amount of explanation helped. ‘everyone loves hugs’ apparently! But just today she sat on her lap for an age being stroked with not a squeeze in sight and this led to much rough and tumble and a woof fun game! So everyone won in the end… I sure it not long before you all winning in your home too!

  21. Such a sweet post, I really enjoyed it. I had to laugh, and I was already thinking that you would have to put the newspaper outside to get Judy to “go” out there, but of course, as I read along I realized you were clever enough to figure that out too. I have a dog, Bozley, with his own set of quirks, but other than what he has taught me I’m no dog expert. That said, keep putting a sheet of newspaper outside, make it smaller and smaller over time until nothing but a scrap of your least favorite op ed will suffice.

  22. Linda, I wrote a short book in which adoption and Santa Claus are woven into the story. I’ve often felt that the story was written specifically for someone; that it might serve a special purpose. After reading your “bio”, I think you may be the one or one of the ones. I don’t want to advertise my book here, but if you will go to my website and contact me by comment I will give you the details of how to get a free copy.

  23. Wow! I can say Jody with a big smile on my dial without moving my lips!

    Awesome post. Beautiful dog too. Better she pees on newspaper than on the carpet…what a tidy doggie 🙂


  24. This is one of the greatest thing I have read – this warms my heart and I know how important dogs can be in helping people feel great. Of course you did great with the smile/no lip movement. Way to go!

  25. HI. what a lovely post. I would have put the paper outside too. could get a little soggy if it rains though. what about a litter tray with news paper in it?

    God Bless! Maria from australia Newbie mac user. will get you fb as well as email & iMessage. skype same as email,without the gmail part. twitter bubbygirl

  26. Reblogged this on Wearing Heels in a Flats World and commented:
    So touching.

  27. I love to see the interaction between children and dogs and the elerly and sic with dogs Dogs give us so much and ask only to be loved in return

  28. […] the blogs I read tonight was this one that really touched a cord – raising5kidswithdisabilitiesandremainingsane.  I am amazed at how this woman deals with the challenges she faces each day and I wonder if I could […]

  29. jillrlokitz said:

    Your writing is inspiring, funny & heart-felt!

  30. Thanks for sharing your family and your stories, as I truly enjoy them. What you did for your daughter was the “right” thing to do, and I love how creative you are in meeting the needs of your children and the newest member of your family.

  31. So lucky you named the dog “Jody” instead of “Boomer” or something! 🙂

  32. loved this story, we have a labrador and she is totally laid back about the very loud noises my disabled daughter makes, even when said daughter is lying on top of the dog when she screams – if brought up with sounds dogs will get used to anything. We gave lots of praise when the dog was little and encouraged her by sitting on the floor with her and Olivia (my daughter). We also used a guide dog trick with toilet training – take the dog outside to where you want them to go, wait for a pee and say “get busy” and praise, then gradually you say the “get busy” before the pee and soon you have a dog who will go on command and in just one place making clean up easier. With Jody’s newspaper fetish you could do the get busy command alongside the reducing amount of paper as suggested by another comment. Hope you have many years of love with Jody.

    • Great idea…our German Shepherd, Brandy, was a guide dog, and it was soooo amazing how we would just open the door and tell her to “do her business”, and she DID! She spoiled us for any other dog. But to think we could do the same thing with Jody is great. Thanks for the suggestion!

  33. New pups are often kept in an area where the floor is covered with newspaper. That is what she learned. Hopefully you can help her transition away from it.

  34. What a lovely gift for the children to share their lives with such a beautiful animal. We haven’t found another dog yet since ours passed, but we have been considering it. We still have other pets, but the loss of one we’d had for literally ever, has been such a hard thing to get past. Best of luck to you with many years of happiness ahead of you with your furry friend!

  35. Our Border Collie is almost two now. I wish I could turn back time and have her as a puppy again. We did end up with a few half eaten items of furniture though! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear more puppy tales!

    • Our new puppy, unfortunately, likes to eat computer mouses. (computer mice?) I went to use the computer this morning and another mouse is gone…SUCH frustration! She also chewed up my expensive Dansko shoes, the only shoes I wear. I keep telling myself, she’s just a puppy.

  36. […] AppointmentTips For Training A Well-Behaved Family DogThe Perfect Dog911 Rescue: A Col. Potter StoryA Name a Ventriloquist Would Love… .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 […]

  37. That made me smile! : )

  38. Hello,
    I just wanted to let you know that nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogging award, I in turn have nominated you, I would Like to thank her and ask that you visit her site if you haven’t already

    • I thank you so much for the award nomination, especially from someone whom I admire…(50 and Loving Life!!) However, I find that I have such a hard time even writing one post a week that I could not possibly adequately fulfill all of the requirements to do the award justice. I do appreciate the thought, though…

  39. A great piece – really enjoyed reading it!

  40. MommaBee said:

    I think we may be cosmic sisters or something. So I too am named Brandy – and have been referred to with a term related to dogs…so. I grew up in a deaf community so I grew up signing – my kids and dogs know sign. My first true love was when I worked as a teacher aide for diabled high school kids and then with the state with adults. Destiny 🙂

  41. Try reducing the size of the newspaper?

  42. oh, what a cute story, and you are absolutely right…”Nothing feels better than the warm heart you get when you see your children smile”… probably every parent out there would have to confess, that we have done “something” a little sly at some time in our childs life, just to see that smile 🙂
    Keep up the good work! You are an awesome mom!

  43. Your energy and passion is admirable and I nominated you for a “Best Moment” Award. I hope you don’t mind. Please click here for more info:

    • Thank you so much for the award nomination. However, my little brain has all it can do to write one post a week. I’m afraid I do not have the time to adequately fulfill the requirements of the award. I appreciate the thought, though.

  44. Have you ever taken the newspaper just after she peed and then go pour it on the space you want her to use? You might have to leave the newspaper there for a bit so she uses it a couple of times, then remove it, and take her out on a leash to the spot and tell her to go pee?

    As to the loud voice scaring her: I took my dog to volunteer at a seniors home – they tested her to see if she was scared by noises – clanging pots, bumping and crashing things, pointing at her with a cane, tapping the cane around her – she passed them all with flying colors. Perhaps practicing clanging pots and stomping around and speaking loudly will make her accustomed to the louder voices? My little one spent her first year in a kennel – so I am assuming that is what got her accustomed to all the different noises.

    • Thank you for the suggestions. She now goes on the paper…outside… I’ve made it smaller and smaller and she still manages to “go” right on the paper!

      She is used to Marie’s loud voice now. I think the dog treats she gives her has had something to do with it!

  45. Really enjoyed this post! Thanks for stopping by my blog….that’s how I found yours, and I am blessed by it!

  46. As always, I LOVE your writing.

  47. Awh the new addition to your family is gorgeous 🙂

  48. Awh she sounds like a right little character 🙂

  49. so many comments, maybe this was already said but here in Canada your dog’s breed is called a Labradoodle. A Golden Retreiver mixed with Poodle is Goldendoodle. They are a super sweet laid back dog. A great choice for your family.

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