Why our next dog will be a sea monkey

About two weeks ago I took both dogs to the vet in preparation for their upcoming trip to the kennel. Chuck needed to get updates on a few vaccinations, and Coco just needed a general check-up, although I did hope that they would maybe listen to her heartbeat or take her temperature and ask, “Has she been rather awful lately? Because there is a medical reason for that.” And then give her a pill that would make her stop being such a frequent dickwad.

In the days leading up to that vet visit I had noticed Coco scratching her right ear violently and often walking around with her head tilted in that direction. I didn’t know if she had water in her ear or if she had damaged it in any way, so I knew I would bring that up with the vet. I just had to get Coco into the building first. Not so easy when in the parking lot she suddenly remembered that this was the building where she had had her ovaries removed. And I can totally understand her reaction, it would be weird to wake up from a sedative I had not willingly taken only to find out that someone had hacked into my reproductive organs. And here you are bringing me back to the building where that happened? Do not be surprised then when I start growling, barking, and then pissing my pants from the anxiety. In fact, be glad I don’t start talking shit about your mom.

To make matters worse, Chuck loves the vet. In fact, the vet is perhaps Chuck’s favorite place in the world if you don’t count the butthole of every dog he’s ever met. He knows when we’re blocks away from that building and will start howling with anticipation once he realizes where we’re going. So there I am in the parking lot, one dog yanking the leash away from the building, the other dog jumping three feet at a time into the air because he can’t wait to get in, me in the middle purposefully not making eye contact with anyone because then maybe they won’t notice that I exist or that there is a circus going on around me. Only thing missing that would have made it a more perfect moment was that small but vocal segment of the Internet standing two inches from my face with their arms folded across their chests chanting YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

I finally get them both into the lobby where a handful of other dogs are standing patiently beside their owners, at least until Coco’s uneasy energy sets off a round of hysterical barking. And then Chuck, Our Walking Teddy Bear, He Who Only Barks When Thoroughly Provoked And Even Then Only If He’s On His Period, sees a fur ball of a puppy across the room, one who is maybe four months old if even that advanced in age, and he goes berserk, starts growling from the bottom of his lungs so that it sounds like some sort of demonic goblin. And if at all possible Coco’s barking gets even more high-pitched as if to say SEE? SEE? THIS PLACE IS APPALLING. Yes, appalling. Because THERE ARE PUPPIES HERE. Is your situation not ghastly enough? Want to make it really horrific? THROW IN SOME ADORABLE PUPPIES.

This goes on for what seems like, wait, it’s STILL going on, and not two minutes after I get them settled down I start to relax a little bit only to have a little person walk through the door, a perfectly polite little person who says a friendly hello to everyone in the room. And just then Coco lunges and starts growling at her as if she had just walked into Coco’s pasture and stolen one of her sheep. Which I am supposing is the worst thing that could happen to a sheep dog: steal one of the things that they are trying to keep track of and watch their head explode. Want to see Coco go nuts? Invite three friends over and send one of them to the bathroom. That trick never gets old.

I immediately text message Jon: “Our dogs are awful. Also, Coco is a bigot.”

When we finally get back to an examination room I ask the doctor if they can take a look inside Coco’s right ear. She says no problem, and within mere minutes of taking the dogs back to address their respective concerns she returns to tell me that they have found a foxtail inside her ear. A large one. Larger than they have ever pulled out of a dog’s ear. And because she is so anxious they’re going to have to sedate her a bit in order to get it out. I imagine that if Coco were capable of a single coherent thought she’d be panicking that this time they were going in for the kidneys. So that they could sell them on Craigslist.

I wait for over 45 minutes and begin to wonder if maybe that foxtail is as big as a grain silo. The doctor finally returns with both dogs, Chuck high from all the attention, Coco a mad, pacing mess of nerves. She shows me the gigantic foxtail they removed and talks me through the procedure, and the whole time Coco circles the room crying. That crying goes on for another five hours, from the moment we leave the examination room, through the lobby of the building, out into the parking lot, along the entire ride home, and then as she tries to find a comfortable spot on the sofa? No. The bed? No. The floor? No. How about the sofa again? No. Oh FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, DOG. PICK A SPOT AND STICK WITH IT. You can cry all you want, I will even hold your head while you do it, I just cannot take the pacing, pacing, pacing. Suddenly I’m seeing why people adopt turtles.

She finally calms down when she falls asleep for the night, and the following morning she’s as chipper as ever, jumping straight from the floor and landing directly on Jon’s crotch to say good morning. We’re exhausted from the emotional crying jag and everything else we’ve had to get done before our week long trip away from home, and so we both absentmindedly fall asleep thinking that the other one is keeping track of Coco. THAT NEVER ENDS WELL. Pretty much if I ever begin a sentence with, “But I thought Jon was watching her,” you can assume that the story ends with all of us dying.

This time it was worse. She crapped all over the kitchen floor.

And not just a little crap. A WHOLE LOAD OF CRAP. BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF CRAP. A PACIFIC OCEAN OF CRAP. From the point of origin (the middle of the kitchen dog bed), all the way along the floor, up onto two stainless steel planters and the dishwasher, all over five cabinet doors, and ending in her food bowl. IN HER FOOD BOWL. OF COURSE IN HER FOOD BOWL. That’s probably where she was headed all along and is now pissed that she wasted so much of it on the dirty kitchen floor. Can’t eat that shit now CAUSE IT’S BEEN ON THE FLOOR.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this story other than to say that Jon repeatedly asked me that morning what I thought Coco had eaten to make her sick like that, and I kept giving him this really evil look like ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? She didn’t get sick from eating something, she got sick because for several hours the day before she thought she was going to die. Do you know what that kind of stress does to your system? You and I can knock back a bourbon, but Coco? COCO DOESN’T HAVE BOURBON. SPRAYING SHIT SEEMS LIKE A REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE.

  • Anu

    I just died and went to heaven…………laughing

  • Fran Peacock

    Bless your heart! My dog Jack does that pacing after he’s had a seizure and we’ve had to pump him full of valium. He’ll just pace until his legs fall off. And I have an upset stomach after I’m very stressed (I rarely poop on the floor, though…..) but my husband’s stomach is just fine. Maybe that’s a girl thing.

  • http://commonplacetheory.com Lauren

    I can only imagine how stressed out you were…just READING your post made me roll my eyes in empathy.

    I have two dogs. I love them, but sometimes, being a pet owner sucks.

    I hope to God Coco gets her shit figured out (pun not intended). She’s a handful…fo’ sho.’

  • http://realmuscleonline.com Bodybuilding

    That is a wonderful story. I love my dog so much. Fish, not so much. But they are all wonderful.

  • http://www.mydogumentary.wordpress.com gingela5

    So, what’s the grossest thing that your pet has done? I think mine was when I looked out the back window and my dog was ripping apart a bird. Really very appetizing.

  • Jennifer

    Just read this again for the fourth time–what a great post! Incredibly funny. I made my husband sit and read it. Thank you for having such a challenging pet.

  • http://outtamymindwithworry.blogspot.com margalit

    Coco is lucky you found that foxtail. They are dangerous little things that can easily move throughout a dog’s body and implant in their heart. When we lived in Colorado, my Irish Setters constantly got foxtails in their feathering, and we had a few that abcessed over the years.

    She’s an adorable dog, but she’s not going to calm down for a long time. She needs to be working. Can you take her to a place where she had herd Canada geese? In our little city, we have several Aussies that herd the geese on the school playgrounds throughout town. They keep the bird poop off the playing fields, and the dogs feel important and get tired. It’s a thought!

  • http://bkimrey1.wordpress.com berit

    i can only imagine coco impaling herself with the foxtail…in the same way that a 6 yr old boy puts a rock in his ear- just to see if they can.

  • http://www.apotheos.net Edward Pollard

    You know, I bet a small drink of bourbon would have done that dog wonders in recovery.

    Something for for next time.

  • jennifer

    had to post again: wtf? You specifically point out all the know-it-all’s in this story, and STILL you get a bunch of comments doing the same thing. I feel for you. Apparently there are also quite a few people who can’t manage to google a simple word..

  • http://www.undomesticdiva.com Undomestic Diva

    I have three little boys and let me tell you, SHIT: It’s Universal. (Said to the tune of the whole Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner campaign jingle, only truer.)

  • http://web.mac.com/juliekaye Juliekaye

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But when life gives you shit…hmmm. Perplexing.

  • http://indulgelaughcreate.blogspot.com Abbey Lile-Taylor

    Oh Holy Crap.

    Here I emailed you about my dog Molly and the nasty foxtail in her nose and blood all over the floor when you’re dealing with such worse crap…literally!

    I won’t lie…I’d MUCH rather have blood all over the floor than shit.

    On a cleaner and happier note, I really enjoyed hearing you speak at BlogHer. You were fantastic and the highlight of my trip!

  • http://nycmomandmore.blogspot.com Marinka

    Some days I really miss having a dog. On those days, I read your Coco posts.

  • http://seehearspeaknoevil.com jess

    omg i can’t stop laughing. and i feel like a real asshole about that, but not bad enough to stop. srsly rolling here.

    i hope coco is doing much better now.

    our dog has to be groomed regularly and she shits in the car every goddamn time i take her to the groomer. EVERY TIME.

    not cool.

  • Jean S

    That was hilarious! Nothing like waking up to a shit filled kitchen. The only thing worse is when you don’t see it and accidently slip in it.

  • http://jennandlucas.blogspot.com Jenn

    I feel for you. Our dog once ate about 10 of the foxtails once they went to seed. She had to be anesthezied to have them taken out of her throat. This happened twice. Although we didn’t have the crying or the all the poop after.

    It is a funny story though….


  • http://www.miss-britt.com Miss Britt


    and in that four year old voice, to boot.


  • http://www.justanotherjenn.com Jenn

    I seriously don’t know how you tolerate Coco after having such a mellow dog like Chuck! This should tell you that Chuck is one in a million!

  • Anonymous

    1. Australian Shepherds need a lot of “work” to do and when they don’t have the stimulation you have an annoying dog, they’re a tough breed!

    2. What ever happened to the Wii winners??

  • http://the-secret-bitch.blogspot.com Keri

    Oh my god…that made me laugh out loud. I mean, I feel for you and all, but oh man. I have to say I admire you and Jon for keeping Coco, I think I would have given up long ago! Life is just too short. But kudos to you for hanging in there, you’re far braver than I am!

  • http://www.pennylane.blogspot.com Penny

    WOW. That is all I could think of.

    And then I followed your link to foxtail. And now all I can think is OUCH – poor Coco, no wonder she was crying. And now she’ll never, ever want to go to the vet again.

  • Nicole in DC

    I just wanted to mention here- I’m not sure if anyone has ever brought this up. Coco actually means “shit” or “poop” in Portuguese. I lived in Mozambique for quite some time (they speak Portuguese there) and the moms always say to their kids “Precisa vai chichi? Precisa vai coco?” / Translation: Do you need to go pee? Do you need to go poop?

    Anyways, just thought that might explain Coco’s shit obsession.

  • http://middlewhittle.blogspot.com leah

    oh man.

    i started reading dooce a couple months ago because my boyfriend and i got an 8-week-old pembroke welsh corgi and were having issues with him, so my boss said to me, “oh my gosh, do you read dooce? she just got a mini australian shepherd and is having troubles, too.” so i checked it out and am totally hooked :)

    anyway, i’ve always wanted to send you an email, heather, to let you know how awesome of a puppy parent you are (well, and human parent, too!). that one video you posted of chuck and coco waiting to be allowed to eat from their bowls was AMAZING and instantly i decided “i must learn from this woman” haha . . . but unfortunately, i’m having all sorts of difficulties with chester. he poops on the carpet all the time because my darling boyfriend doesn’t pay close enough attention when he and chester are hanging out in the computer room (and of course by “hanging out,” i mean The Boy is playing world of warcraft all evening and the dog is left to his own devices while i’m out of the house–yes, good God-fearing citizens of Utah, we live in sin haha).

    i don’t mind the poop so much, but i swear to you, my dog hates me. either that, or he’s incredibly misogynistic. he growls and snaps and snarls any time i try to pick him up, and my arms are a neat, criss-crossing pattern of scratches from chester struggling to get away from the apparent horror that is my loving arms. and–AND–sometimes i’ll be sitting on the couch, minding my own business, and he’ll come up and sit in front of me and bark nonstop.

    so anyway, my point: i think you are amazingly patient and loving with your pets and i’m sorry you’ve had so much literal shit to deal with. i also think i would love it if you would come to my home and teach chester to stop hating me . . . or at least stop snarling and biting!

    as a side note, after reading the comments yesterday about pennies in a bottle, i went home at lunchtime and tried it. it worked a couple of times, but by the third, he just kind of looked at me like “what exactly do you think you’re going to accomplish?” and went about his business. SIGH.

  • TX2Steph

    My aging dog takes FOUR pills a day to control her Irritable Bowel. It took several months to find the right combo that worked for her, and of course she would get stressed out every time we went to the vet so… yeah. Perpetual poop.

    Also, you are NOT doing it wrong. Ever. You have courage, humor, passion and a clear vision of what you want to achieve. How the hell could you go wrong with that combo?

  • http://shoeism.wordpress.com Therese

    Cannot stop picturing Pacific Ocean of crap. I feel for you guys, through my laughter.

  • http://www.azuroo.blogspot.com Amy

    Having your home (especially the kitchen where you eat) coated in poop is never a pleasant experience. I used to have a sheep dog mix, and after 10 months of complete and utter destruction, piles and piles of bodily functions, a lot of training classes, and lots of sweet puppy kisses we re-homed him to a 400 acre goat farm where he is now doted on by two little girls. He does agility training and herds goats, and they tell me he is the perfect dog. Go figure. We replaced him with a black lab mix puppy, who destroys nothing and lets my toddler ride on her…

  • http://www.fabfitand40.blogspot.com Chris

    We should have a bad dog contest. I am going to toot my own horn and say that my yellow Lab Maggie may beat your Coco. She would have seen and smelled the Ocean of Crap, eaten it, and come back home to spray it out both ends. Oh, and she would have done it in a contrasting color on one of the few carpets in my house. Top that Coco! Oh wait…don’t top that Coco.

  • http://a-year-off-in-the-life.blogspot.com Abby

    You guys should call up the producers of Dog Whisperer and see if Ceasar can come out and help Coco get a grip! Bless her heart!

  • Meg

    From another woman who found poop in her kitchen the yesterday morning to the other – I’m sorry. It stinks.

  • Headless Chicken

    Suddenly I’m glad all my neurotic dog does when stressed is vomit yellow bile. “maybe they won’t notice that I exist or that there is a circus going on around me.” Story of my life!

  • http://distractiblejane.blogspot.com jane

    Poor Coco. The same thing happened to my dog when I had to board him for a couple of days. He came back and had diarrhea all over the kitchen floor. He is a delicate flower, I guess.

  • Sarah

    I cannot express how NOT wrong you are in everything you do! I am a new reader to this blog, and you rock, girl! Also, thanks for the story of your unfortunate experience with Coco – not only was I laughing so hard my sides hurt, but I am evermore thankful that I just have a chinchilla! =)

  • Chrissy

    And to think I really wanted to get an Australian Shepherd! Thanks for saving me the grief, although my Golden Retriever puppy is managing to drive me just as crazy. Hang in there. I just know Coco is going to turn into a wonderful dog one day, hopefully soon.

  • Katybeth

    This is probably old news but have you considered a crate? Cleaning poop out a crate is worse than a floor but overall it will calm a dog, prevent chewing and encourage housebreaking. I know and love many mini Aussie’s with high herding instincts that have been tamed with the help of a crate. On the other hand, while a crate might offer you a solution, it would give you fewer amusing, stories to share about your dog destroying your house, barking non-stop, and eating poop. Of-course not every dog will “crate” but most will,a good dog trainer would be able to offer you other suggestions.
    Love the pictures of Chuck.

  • Mom in Texas

    OMG, I cannot read your blog at work, I now have tears running down my face, I laughed so hard!

    All I can say is I feel your pain and I sit here in admiration and awe about how you can put up with explosive poop in your kitchen:)

  • http://wmetoile.livejournal.com sara

    I can only suggest that you never play “Waltzing Matilda” around Coco, because that song is about a man who steals sheep, and she would probably lose her effing mind.

    I am so impressed with your patience with that animal. I would not be so.

  • http://schumanator.blogspot.com/ Schumanator

    The internet chanting “you’re doing it wrong” is perhaps the most hilarious imagery ever.

  • Laura

    “A PACIFIC OCEAN OF CRAP!” would be an awesome way to head the August banner. Just saying.

  • mslieder

    Makes my 3 shit eatin’ dogs look pretty good.

    My Mom had a dog when she was a kid that was so smart he would crap right where my Grandpa would open the car door (if they left the dog home when they went somewhere).

    Face it, dogs are poop eatin’ neurotic beasts. But ya gotta love ‘em.

  • http://cosmosnow.net Feilisha

    Coco is a cup of surprises, huh?

    Well, my dog pooped the other day, too… it was only a Gulf of Mexico, not a Pacific Ocean. I “ignored” the mess, only to leave it to my mother to come home and clean it up; and yes, it stayed fresh. I doubt Leta would ever do such a horrible thing, and yes, it was very mean and selfish of me to do so.

    Hope all fares well!

  • http://www.bringingdownthecool.blogspot.com Rebecca

    Hilarious, but only because I’ve been there many, many times in the past. My 9-month old basset hound JUST stopped using our apartment as a toilet. We used to have an Aussie who was a chaotic, insane ball of obsessive-compulsive energy and would regularly display her love of controlling us by pooping on the dining room carpet. Which, of course, was white when we got it and quickly became covered in awful faded yellow/gray stainspots from all the Aussie diarrhea.

    Obviously you shouldn’t give your dog bourbon, or any sort of liquor, but when she gets that stressed or goes into that anxious state you do have options:

    A teaspoon of children’s benadryl (mixed with milk or gatorade or yogurt so the dog isn’t like, yuck, bubblegum?!) generally takes about 30-45 minutes to kick in.

    Or you can go more homeopathic with:

    Richard’s Organics Pet Calm: 1 mL per 10 lbs of bodyweight. Dogs seem to like the flavor so you probably won’t even need to add anything to it. http://petco.com/product/7743/Richard-s-Organics-Pet-Calm.aspx

    My basset had some very serious separation anxiety and as part of his reconditioning we used both the Richard’s and the benadryl to help get him into a calmer state of mind. They both worked very well.

    Hope that helps!


  • http://www.allconsuming.blogspot.com kim at allconsuming

    We just gave our two dogs away.

    Suddenly my life is like a Hallmark card.

    The end.

  • http://www.intothesilentwater.blogspot.com Kara

    What? no pictures?

  • Tania

    This is my first visit to your blog and I laughed so hard at this post. Love it!

    I recognise the exasperation/guilt/embarrassment about Coco barking like a mad dog at kids and puppies. It must be something about dominant-type herding dogs….we have a 12 month old 90 pound longhaired German Shepherd and he is work – a lot of work. Luckily I love him otherwise he’d be a very good looking rug in my family room right about now.

    I 2nd the advice about the Dog Whisperer (comment 183). His ideas for dominant dogs work. They really work.

    And I laughed really hard at Montsmags comment (no 138). I hear you! How about a dog that loves to drink from the toilet…which the kids have ‘forgotten’ to flush (or put the lid down)…and there is copious amounts of ‘copro’ in it and then he wants to ‘kiss’ you! BLECH BLECH BLECH.

  • ma2one

    Then you had to leave her this neurotic dog.
    This story sounds like a
    To be continued…..

    I know first hand Coco will never chill out!
    You know that.
    Her humans will eventually get used to the nonsense and love her all the same.

    I have a dog who shits from anxiety (thankfully waits for the street)and detests the vet as much as coco.

    My dog remember the near foot amputation being repaired the day before I left for five days for vacation to visit our child at sleep away camp. Life sucks worse when you really need it to go smoothly.

    Stay home!

  • http://snotw.blogspot.com Rachael

    This was already worth reading when I got to the one scared dog and one excited dog trying to rip you in half. I’m definitely glad they didn’t, but that is a pretty funny image. I’m sorry about the poo though… that stinks. Literally.

  • Annie

    It’s been a LONG time since you’ve had a story this funny.

    My dogs only used to eat walls and furniture. I doubt I could have survived the shitstorm Coco has put you through.

  • Agnieszka

    OK I totally hear ya on the bigot part. My dog Sophie is the sweetest dog on earth. But if she sees anybody in a wheelchair she totally goes Cujo on them. She’s 105 pounds and stands hip height to me, she’s a giant. A lovely, sweet, wheelchair hating giant. It’s so embarassing.

  • http://rachieann.com Rachie

    wow. just wow.
    I have a new dog and I thought that I had problems with him. all he does is chew on things. like pens