One Day at a Time

Sleeping It Off

Out with my puppy early this morning, I was thinking about how the expression, “One day at a time,” applies to the process of housebreaking a dog. Today I slept half an hour later than usual (until the lazy hour of 5:30 a.m.!) and woke to find that, like an addict in recovery, Eddie had slipped, breaking a streak of four days and nights clean and sober – that is, without an accident in the house. Disappointed in my dog, I was also angry at myself for letting him down by oversleeping. And he had been doing so well!

With Eddie sleeping it off under the kitchen table, I sought the support of my resident expert in recovery, my husband Peter. Peter is a substance abuse counselor who works with addicts at all stages along the recovery spectrum at a wonderful nonprofit clinic called Right Turn. He ran through a checklist that he uses in his weekly relapse prevention group. As Eddie’s sponsor, I will be discussing the following points with him to ensure that this morning’s slip does not turn into a full-blown relapse:

  • Eddie needs to admit there’s a discrepancy between where he is now and where he’d like to be.
  • Eddie needs to learn to recognize the uncomfortable urges that trigger bad behavior and find other, acceptable ways to cope with them.
  • Eddie needs to practice impulse control.
  • Eddie needs to seek peer-to-peer support to help him stay clean and to avoid dangerous influences and places where he might be tempted to slip.
  • Eddie needs to stop engaging in “euphoric recall” where he romanticizes those carefree days when he gave into his impulses freely and without negative consequences.
  • Eddie cannot be complacent about the progress he has made.

I’m pleased to report that, after a productive post-breakfast walk, Eddie is back on track. Now, if I could just nip him of the bad habit of chewing on his harness….One day at a time.

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4 Responses to “One Day at a Time”


  1. 1 Susan Harari July 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Can I just tell you that my 7-year-old lab just ate a package of M and Ms and slept on my bed? While we were fighting the massive crowds at the Dale Chihuly show (why do all those people insist on taking phone photos in the exhibit? GRRRRR!) Maybe he was jealous. Anyway, I’m not sure dogs even learn impulse control . . .

    • 2 jandev July 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Hope he’s okay! My niece’s dog ate some sugar-free chewing gum last week and the vet had to induce vomiting (xylitol can be toxic for dogs). Maybe there’s a 12-step group they all can join.

  2. 3 Matt July 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Maybe Eddie and Twitch can be each other’s “peer to peer” support. (Can cats and dogs be peers?) Although Twitch has yet to admit he needs help.

  3. 4 mere de riley July 31, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Little by little…… We can understand that our lives are about process!!! Great book on that topic by Carl Safina called the View from Lazy Point – A natural year in an unnatural world


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