I set out to test my theory that wherever in the backyard Randy peed, the grass died. For my laboratory, I measured a five-foot square, enclosed it with treated four by fours and filled it with bark. I based my model on the former dog relief area at work, a concrete and gravel box which, abruptly one weekend, was replaced by a decorative fountain. “I wish I’d gotten my hands on that gravel,” I told my wife. “Randy really took to it. It had the scent. But I bet bark will work for us.”
“I’ll call Animal Planet,” my wife replied.
Throughout the dog days of summer, I steered Randy to his pee pad and urged him to embrace toilet training. He climbed onto the bark and sniffed every square inch. I told him to pee, believing he understood English and was eager to please. He sat and stared at me. I felt our connection. But Randy did not perform. As I led him from the pee pad, he squatted and peed on the lawn. I swear I heard the grass scream.
I examined my experimental variables. “He’s not making the connection between the gravel and the bark,” I told my wife. “Can you spare an old pie tin so I can collect some pee and sprinkle it on the bark? That way, he’ll catch on.” But this additional ingredient, too, failed to produce results. I increased the probability factor by lobbing morsels from his copious backyard #2 deposits onto the pee pad. Following protocol, Randy climbed onto the bark, sat in its only unblemished corner and stared at me.
Summer school has ended and, with it, my experiment. These days, I water our new sod backyard and walk Randy around the block to pee. The bark is spread among vegetable plants that produce manly zucchini and voluptuous tomatoes. “I wish you could see the bountiful fruits of your experiment, Honey,” says my wife. “Every zucchini and every tomato has Randy’s smiling face on it. Animal Planet will be filming here next week.”