Three cheers for Belle's milestone moment! She just came to the door of my home office, looked around the corner at me, and whined. I asked, "Outside?" and she whimpered, looking in the direction of the back door. When I opened the door, she walked right out and peed. A celebratory shower of treats followed her return, as she bunny-hopped around the living room at the sight of the treat bag. Miss Belle rocks!
Why am I over the moon regarding a simple action that other dogs perform multiple times per day? It's not the house training. Remarkably, Belle has been house trained for months now, thanks to routine, the example set by the other dogs, routine, teaching her the "outside" cue, and routine. Treats were actually not involved, but that's another post. Cautious herding was involved early on, but that's yet another post. Belle's house training is so reliable that she is trustworthy loose in the house alone and now even during rainy days. (I think I just heard a gasp of disbelief from fellow Rat Terrier butlers.)
What is causing my elation is that semi-feral Belle has just accorded the human in the house another measure of relevance. Woo hoo, I'm finally relevant. Sort of. A little bit more. She's still too scared to come close in most situations. But in more and more tiny ways, Belle is perceiving this human as useful. We are ever so carefully building a relationship.