the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Code Word

I recently spent two months of my life potty training a small animal. I use the word “spent” in its most literal sense: I did nothing but eat, sleep and potty train for nearly 60 days.

Potty training my small animal was more of a potty coaxing, really. The routine went something like this: I would say the code word for peeing or pooping (“Do It” and “Go Poop” respectively) over and over again until he responded with the appropriate bodily function. Once he was finished I would praise him gushingly, as if he had just performed nuclear fission.

“Do It” proved to be the easier of commands to follow. My small animal was soon “Doing It” at every opportunity. He was happy to “Do It,” often looking at me with an expression that said, “I really love to Do It.”

But the “Going Poop” part of the process continues to be an unpredictable nightmare, one with ramifications I understood only last night when trying to coax him into “Going Poop” while the dinner I had just made was getting cold upstairs.

“Going Poop,” it turns out, really isn�t the best code word for going poop, especially when you�re hungry, in a hurry, and clueless as to how to get your small animal to actually go poop.

Both my husband and I were dragging our small animal in circles, screaming, “Go Poop!” in turns, looking at each other and pleading, “Why won�t he Go Poop?”

“Go Poop!” I yelled. “Go Poop! Go Poop! Go Poop!”

Then my husband took his turn, “Go Poop! Puppy! Go Poop!”

Eventually a hint of recognition flashed across the animal�s face, like, “I think they want me to Go Poop.” And both my husband and I looked back at him, like, “Duh.”

Just as he was crouching down into the appropriate catcher�s position, just when I thought we might enjoy at least a warm dinner, the toothy blonde kid from next door hopped out of his car and gleefully interrupted, “Chuck!”

You�ve never seen a faucet turn off so fast.

I really can�t take responsibility for what happened next, the witch-like screeching and crazy arm-waving and the hopping hopping hopping frustration, but I somehow found myself berating the neighbor kid: “Can�t you see he has to Go Poop!? Let him Go Poop!”

He didn�t go poop. Next time I�m going to try, “Don�t Go Poop.”

  • Toby

    2002/09/19 at 8:39 am

    It is very good to see you back. <3

  • ko-pojke

    2002/09/19 at 8:49 am

    this worked for us…

  • Ismat

    2002/09/19 at 8:53 am

    We went through a very similar process with my niece. Whenever she would pee in the toilet, she’d get treats and hugs and kisses, and I kept thinking, “Man, it was great to be a kid. I never get applause when I exit the bathroom.”

  • feelafel

    2002/09/19 at 9:20 am

    It’s fitting that you returned on the 20th birthday of the :), as I’m so happy that you’re back.

    Good luck with Senator Chuckles – my mother says that she toilet trained me with Smarties (like M&Ms), if that helps.

  • Sarah B.

    2002/09/19 at 9:29 am

    My parents used chocolate chips to lure me to use the toilet, Nilla wafers down the hall to prompt me to crawl, an Annie locket when I learned to tie my shoes, a Cabbage Patch Kid if I stopped sucking my thumb, and an E.T. doll if I learned to ride without training wheels. All were highly successful, but life seems so empty now.

  • Jane Doe

    2002/09/19 at 9:51 am

    We tried to teach our cats to go in the toilet.

    To make a long story short, we gave up and bought bigger litter boxes with covers on them.

  • megchem

    2002/09/19 at 10:36 am

    My roomate’s dog (if she leaves i claim custody) was trained to “hurry up”….her mom had taught her that as a puppy then when the roomate got custody she suffered several weeks on no pooping, well at least not pooping appropriately. The roomate found out the command…works like a charm

  • Matej

    2002/09/19 at 11:24 am

    I just laughed myself into convulsions… Thanks, I needed that. P.S. I’ve completely given up on toilet-training my ferret. I find that works pretty good.

  • Paula

    2002/09/19 at 11:35 am

    Hm. I think “Hurry Up” is probably the universal code word in dog-speak for Go Poop. A few people I know use this term and when we started using it with our dog, it worked like a charm.

    I’m so glad to see you back. Congratulations on the wedding and I have to ask…where was Chuck during the festivities?


  • helenjane

    2002/09/19 at 12:43 pm

    yesterday the little girl in the stall next to me sighed sadly and as her mom flushed said, “bye bye poo poo. bye bye.”

  • gina

    2002/09/19 at 1:00 pm

    YAY! dooce is back!!!

  • Paul Gutman

    2002/09/19 at 1:50 pm

    I gotta say, if *I* was doing my business and someone yelled my name suddenly, my faucet would turn off in a real hurry.

  • Rengirl

    2002/09/19 at 2:00 pm

    I’m wetting my pants in excitement that you’re back.

  • Ariel

    2002/09/19 at 2:10 pm

    Really Rena? I’m Doing It I’m so happy. Welcome back, Dooce!

  • Beefy K

    2002/09/19 at 2:53 pm

    My life is whole again. I am glad you are back.

  • Rickster

    2002/09/19 at 3:32 pm


    Mere Blogs can’t express how happy I am that “THE DOOCE IS BACK!!!!!”

  • Sour Bob

    2002/09/19 at 4:44 pm

    Maybe Chuckles speaks Esperanto. Have you tried “Utiligi la necesejo”?

  • DJ SUBg

    2002/09/19 at 5:07 pm

    I just put a pair of Depends and let the “chips” fall where they may.

    Glad to hear from you.

  • shy

    2002/09/19 at 5:38 pm Resurrected!

    1. congrats on your wedding!

    2. your photographer did a kickass job.

    3. don’t feed chuck chicken. dog’s that eat chicken get bad gas and fart up a storm.

    4. welcome back.

    5. no. 3 is based on personal experiences… unfortunately.

  • pixelkitty

    2002/09/19 at 6:07 pm

    ohhhh I was so happy to trundle over and see you writing again.

    my web is complete.

    thank you, thank you

  • Neal

    2002/09/19 at 6:53 pm

    Dooce is alive! Thank you so much for coming back to your weblog. Congratulations on the marriage, too.

  • Bill

    2002/09/19 at 6:59 pm

    I need to go.

  • dirty pero

    2002/09/19 at 9:00 pm

    My dog, is 7. He still walks in circles for 10 minutes or more… searching for the prime spot to “go poop.”

    Once he narrows this down to a smaller area he paces back and forth about 10 times, the full 6′ length of his leash [when he is on one].

    Then he finally gets in position. If ANYTHING happens at this point, he stops. This can be: a car driving by, a bird, a squirrel… somebody 2 blocks down the street getting out of a car…

    :\ good luck with your small animal.

  • Keith

    2002/09/19 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations on your marriage, health & happiness to you & your husband! I don’t know if you remember me, but we exchanged e-mails at the beginning of the year. As of our last contact, I was planning on moving to Los Angeles. I’m here now — moved to L.A. in February. Life’s kicking ass and I’m having fun at my job.

    Anyways, being that I’m still relatively new to L.A., I’m still exploring
    and looking to find new places and meet new people. I’d love to meet you & Jon realtime at some point. Given your previous habits of putting up cool music, I may be able to help you out in the “finding new music” department because of where I work — it’s actually because of you that I started putting up MP3s on my own site for people to discover some new tunes and artists.

    Hope to hear from you.

  • Jen

    2002/09/20 at 4:29 am

    Welcome back Heather. Congratulations!

  • ryan

    2002/09/20 at 5:50 am

    Welcome back! Congratulations on your marriage! Great pics!

  • NaughtyNellie

    2002/09/20 at 9:35 am

    I’m laughing! The two of you taking turns, “Go Poop! Go Poop! Go Poop!” tee hee

    I haven’t had a dog in several years, but I do have a couple of cats.

    “go potty” & “get in the box” have worked fairly well.

  • Kevin

    2002/09/20 at 10:25 am

    It’s great to have you back. 🙂

  • Jason

    2002/09/20 at 10:31 am

    a friend of mine kept jokingly telling me to let go and I finally stopped checking your site. The same friend just said to me “check dooce!”

    Great to have you back…

  • Electrin

    2002/09/20 at 10:32 am

    Hey Heather, it’s really good to see you back.

  • Muraii

    2002/09/20 at 10:32 am

    I bet that the downfall of modern society can be pinned on this fascination with training our body politic to pee in prescribed vessels. The land should be our shitter, any porch, stoop, truck hood, cubicle chair, or subway seat should be fair game for my micturation needs.

    I mean, he was no genius, but Freud nailed two of the most crucial developmental stages, the anal and the phallic. If we were freer with our dirtiest deeds, we’d be freer with everything else.

    And, yes, I did grow up on a farm, and I’ve preliminarily inculcated my beautiful children (well, the boys, cuz it’s just easier) into going “farm-style”. The damnable orthodoxy engine has warped their aesthetics, so it’s kind of a hard sell.

    But, I shan’t be stalled, by men or cows.

  • antisocial diva

    2002/09/20 at 11:05 am

    it took us two years to train our beagle puppy. i really can’t even begin to say what the key was or why the light went off in his head but i am so, so glad it finally did. they are stubborn but so cute.

    good luck and i’m glad you’re back. 🙂

  • Mike

    2002/09/20 at 12:32 pm

    My wife and I are meeting the dog trainer for the first time tonight to resolve our “go poop” problem. Good luck with your pup.

  • kd

    2002/09/20 at 1:46 pm

    woohoo! you’re back!

    and you have my undying admiration, for your achievements in potty training. me? my kitty will almost always go outside. but, he’s only 4 or 5 years old. these things take time, right?

  • April

    2002/09/20 at 1:57 pm

    Your dog not going poop is better than your dog going poop where and whenever he pleases. My cat is well trained to poop; she goes to her litter box, circles and circles in the sand, and promptly poops outside of the box almost every single time.

    I was hoping you’d be back!

  • Jason Shellen

    2002/09/20 at 2:37 pm

    Welcome back Heather! Congrats on the eloping as well. Cheers!

  • ratty

    2002/09/20 at 2:48 pm

    ogh. potty training ANYTHING is just sucky. phoooey. AAARGH!

  • sadia

    2002/09/20 at 3:26 pm

    Congrats on the marriage. Still, my conception of you as the single most hot woman on earth has not been shattered. Good job, Jon.


  • Todd

    2002/09/21 at 7:02 am

    Well, my advice is to choose wisely. A former college roommate and his girlfiend adopted a dog named Brixton. Often one of them was seen on campus sweetly screaming “Brix, Empty!” Bear in mind you potentailly need to say this phrase often and loudly. My wife tells me our friends tell thier pug to “get busy”. I think that’s a bit less rediculous to say. And makes me miss The Arsenio Hall Show. (woof-woof!)

  • meegan

    2002/09/21 at 5:23 pm

    welcome back!!

  • Tara

    2002/09/22 at 8:41 am

    Heather, congratulations on your marriage and I am so glad to see you on the web again! You and your husband both have sites that I love. I too kept checking back every so often and I am so glad I did!

  • Peanut's Slave

    2002/09/23 at 6:54 pm

    I’m still working on training my small animal. Really small, as in 4.5 lbs of bark, snarl, and woof. Let’s just say that as soon as a small animal starts to pee, she is pretty much done. Rushing over and trying to pick her up to find a more appropriate location to pee is pretty much useless. “Go pee” and “Go poop” didn’t really work too well for us (her name is “Peanut”, which may have caused some garden-pathing) but “hurry up” has promise. Good luck. PS: At least yours poops outside.

  • Sueellen

    2002/09/25 at 4:50 am

    First time here, wanted to say hi! We are STILL trying to get the go poop and pee thing down with our 8 month shih tzu, its driving me nuts!LOL Any little thing distracts him and then thats it, he won’t do it!

  • Sandra

    2002/09/30 at 10:01 am

    I say Go Poop to make my dogs poop. When they begin the process of pooping I say “Good poop” but I make it sound sort of like “goo poop”, which sounds sort of like go poop. I like to believe this makes the association clear in their minds.
    It kind of works.

  • Jeanette

    2002/10/08 at 12:54 pm

    I must echo the sentiment of many respondents. I AM SOOO HAPPY YOU ARE BACK! Unfortunately, I didn’t find out unitl just now and you’ve back for almost a month.
    Thank you!!

  • Naaman

    2002/10/15 at 10:38 am

    My management team seems to think positive reinforcement works, but they give things like cards and candy. How about money and stock?

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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