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At approximately 2 p.m. this afternoon, on my way back from lunch procurement at Benvenuto, I noticed a cute little puppy that was either a Cairn or a Norwich terrier, just sitting there calmly, checking out the scenery on 24th Street. Both breeds are fairly popular in the city given their compact size and the equally compact size of the average residence here, but I had never before seen one so young and innocent-looking. (For your reference and terrier edification: Dorothy’s Toto, while oft mistaken for a Scottie, was actually a Cairn terrier.)

I bent down to pet the dog, who was very nice and generously supplied me with puppy kisses. I did feel like I was cheating a little bit on Howie and LuLu, but I also felt like they’d be happy I was getting some doggie love in their absence.

“Is this a Cairn terrier or a Norwich terrier?” I asked the owner, whose gender was indeterminate.  “So cute!”

“I can’t get her to urinate,” He-She blurted out in a gender-neutral and Tourette’s-like manner.

Um … sorry to hear that … I have irritable bowel syndrome.

I didn’t really know how to respond.  Sure, Ollie had been known to withhold pee when he was distracted by a blade of grass, a pigeon, the faint smell of fried chicken, or another dog, but I’m fairly sure that was never the first thing I said to people I met on the streets of Philadelphia.

Moreover, everyone knows that dogs pee. They don’t “urinate.” They do not evacuate their bladders.  I cannot imagine how much like a jackass I would have sounded if I’d used that word when Sloth and I bickered about which of us would be taking Ollie for his bedtime constitutional.

“Husband, it is your turn to ensure that our canine, Ollie, urinates prior to retiring for the evening. He has not urinated in several hours and if he does not urinate outside now, he may urinate within the domicile later. I would prefer that no urination take place within said domicile, as the plush beige carpet already emits a urine-esque odor. Ergo, please take Ollie outside and see that he urinates.”

In the end, I merely chuckled politely in response to the gender-unknown dog owner. I wished I’d had some pee-inducing wisdom for her, but the one piece of relevent advice I had didn’t seem like something He-She would want to hear: that the surest way to get a puppy to take a leak is to bring him inside and put him somewhere you DON’T want him to pee.

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