the smell of my desperation has become a stench

As evidenced by video!!

It is common practice in our house to let Chuck lick our food plates once we are finished with our meals. He likes to pretend that he doesn’t notice that I’m preparing dinner, will come up next to my legs and slowly press his body into my shins while I’m standing at the stove as if to say, “Excuse me, but did you realize that I’m not even paying attention to the fact that there is a pound of ground beef cooking in its own fat a foot above my head? Look how calmly I am ignoring it.”

We use mealtimes as a way for him to practice his patience as well, because he’s not allowed to lick a single drop of leftover food until he has performed a series of tasks, usually a “sit,” a “roll-over,” and a very long, exaggerated “wait.” A few months ago I posted a video of Chuck trying to roll-over before being rewarded with the pot I use to cook spaghetti sauce, and since that video he has become so anxious about the reward that he will automatically and uncontrollably start rolling over — and over and over — when I reach up into the cabinet and pull out a plate, like a furry, floppy-eared steamroller.

Last week I got a pretty disgusted email concerning this when I mentioned that Jon put his clogs in the dishwasher, and that I thought it was gross:

You let your dog LICK THE LEFTOVERS OFF YOUR PLATES AND POTS AND PANS. EEEEUUUUUWWWWWW!!!!!!! As evidenced by video!! The same dog you openly share who has eaten your child’s shit off the floor. I can only hope and THEN assume that you then also run said dishes through the dishwasher. That is far more disgusting then [sic] Jon washing his clogs in the dishwasher.

My first response to this email is: somewhere a sad document is crying because this person’s email stole all its exclamation points. My second response is: after Chuck has eaten shit you can THEN assume that he’s not allowed to lick our plates because I’m busy using his tongue to floss between my teeth. Give me some credit.

And can I just take a moment to say how thankful I am that most of my readers are supportive and non-moronic? That when I posted about Jon washing his clogs in the dishwasher, most of the email I got was moderate and thoughtful in its use of punctuation, that only a handful of them accused me of being an opportunistic whore for complaining about a stupid little sore on my arm when so many other people are going through much bigger and more meaningful problems. My only response to those emails is: do you really have nothing better to do in your life than write a complete stranger to tell her that her cancer isn’t serious enough? Really? Because my toilet needs to be cleaned, and I volunteer you.

Thank you, majority of my readers, for letting me have my moment of freak-out last week.

Recently Chuck has been licking our plates across the floor, often from one room into another. I once gave him my plate after I had eaten a burrito, and when the melted cheese wouldn’t come off he licked the plate from the dining room through the kitchen, around the corner into the hallway all the way under the door into our bedroom. Jon stubbed his toe on the plate that night as we were getting ready for bed, and when he asked why there was a dinner plate on the floor in our bedroom I said, “YOU try licking hardened melted cheese off a surface without using your hands and see which room you end up in.”

The other night we had a frozen lasagna, and afterward we let Chuck lick the cardboard tray it was cooked in. He was so determined to eat the cooked sauce that was stuck to its sides that he licked the tray underneath the dining room table, through the legs of a chair, underneath the piano bench, and then back through the legs of another chair. The dog is serious about his crumbs.

Flash video
Quicktime movie

  • Seacreature

    2006/07/18 at 11:11 am

    HILAROUS video! I agree… What better way to pre-clean the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher that not only uses soap, but SCALDING HOT WATER THAT NO GERM CAN POSSIBLY WITHSTAND? And hell, a few germs are good for ya, I always say.

    Good luck at the doctor… Everything is gonna be juuuuust fiiiiiine.

  • cinnarose

    2006/07/18 at 11:09 am

    Oh dear dooce, thank you for sharing this with the internet. It gave me a leave from the current high school like hell my work place has become. Just say NO to Drama!

  • gorillabuns

    2006/07/18 at 11:10 am

    i’m not quite sure why people feel the need to kick you in face when you are going through something that is in a word, “scary.” my only thought is these opportunists clearly troll around the internet trying to make sense of their worth while making themselves feel superior at your expense.

    ignore them. they don’t have a clue.

  • oubrandi

    2006/07/18 at 11:11 am

    Heather, I really do hope that your cancer heals successfully and it is one day a tiny memory. That is so scary.
    Phooey on the insensitive people- if you can’t say anything nice, take your hands off the keyboard!

    As for Chuck, he’s a rockstar. And if you’re ever in Kansas he can come by to lick my plates. I think we all need “Chuck licked my plate” t-shirts!

  • rachelle

    2006/07/18 at 11:08 am

    maybe we didn’t hear you complain kate but i think we got an earful from the chip on your shoulder. it sounds to me like you have been alotted more than your fair share of grief and that had you complained, or better yet, processed your pain and fear in a safe and supportive environment you might be better equipped to respond compassionately to others. a broken heart, a biopsy from your arm, a lost job, a troubled child, war, ignorance… there are plenty of things that are sad, scary and deserve some contemplation and compassion. It takes courage to expose your vulnerabilities and ask for help and support.

    Thank you for sharing your experience Heather and I wish you a quick and speedy recovery.

  • barbie2be

    2006/07/18 at 11:09 am

    oh dear god. does that email person actually think you picked up the plates and put them back into the cupboard after chuck was done licking them?

    honestly, some people just fail to grasp sarcasm.

    me, i can’t wait to drive my roommates crazy by putting my new crocs in the dishwasher!

  • erica

    2006/07/18 at 11:07 am

    Now I want to see a video of Chuck rolling over and over and over ike a furry floppy eared steam roller.


  • Susan

    2006/07/18 at 11:07 am

    If everyone got half as much pleasure out of life, as Chuck gets out of licking dishes, there would be no need for drugs or alcohol.

    So what if Chuck likes to lick dishes, and his balless ass, eat poop and lick faces. He’s the happiest damn dog I’ve ever seen. You crazy psycho sanitary people, leave him alone and smile.

  • Arty Steph

    2006/07/18 at 11:04 am

    dogmom, my black lab, Mali does the same thing with the foot in the plate/dish. she is also far too intelligent for her own good, and often for my sanity.

    Mali also has one of those food/treat dispensing balls that has to be rolled around a sufficient number of times before treats fall out. Mali quickly discovered that if you just repeatedly bang the stupid thing against the wall, the food comes pouring out! On top of that, it is, quite possibly the most irritating noise on the planet.

  • Tammie Booth

    2006/07/18 at 11:05 am

    The truth is, I have a pair of Crocs flip flops and when I read about Jon putting his clogs in the dishwasher, I was delighted because I had never thought of that as an option for cleaning mine. Works like a charm.

  • Fuzz

    2006/07/18 at 11:05 am

    That is EXACTLY what my Lab looks like when he “helps” us clean up after dinner. And, I can’t tell you how many times my husband or I will be receiving kisses from said dog when the other says, “You know he was just totally licking his ass, right?” I’m sorry about your diagnosis last week – we’ll be thinking of you and wishing you a full recovery.

  • Dogmom

    2006/07/18 at 10:56 am

    My dog Belle puts her foot in the middle of the cardboard pan, plate, napkin whatever the morsel is stuck to, so it doesn’t force her to bend herself into unnatural positions. But then again Belle is too smart to be a dog. The bane of my life.

  • Jodie

    2006/07/18 at 10:57 am

    I love all your Chuck stories. What kind of dog is he?

  • Sue

    2006/07/18 at 11:01 am

    Many years ago, when ice cream only came in cardboard boxes and groceries came home in paper bags, we had a lovely dog named Chippie whose duty it was to clean all the remaining ice cream from the empty cardboard container, and also to clean leftover food from our plates and crusty bits from casserole dishes. When he passed on to his reward my mother was, naturally, upset because we all missed him terribly, but a large part of the problem was what to do with the casserole dishes and the ice cream containers? Now we have two cats who prefer their treat of milk to be filtered through a few Froot Loops first, and who clean our plates thoroughly of Caesar salad dressing. Not as catholic a selection, perhaps, as Chuck, but helpful in their own way. After all, pets are just little people with fur and claws.

  • M@

    2006/07/18 at 10:55 am

    perhaps there’s a way to harness that force in order to mop? Sparkly floors all around! *( I used to toss a toy under the bed in order to get my dog to inadvertantly remove dust bunnies…)

    I know many people expressed sympathy and shared their stories too. Any cancer is the scariest thing in the world to go through and what you are feeling is absolutely valid. Many people (read; A-hole emailers among them) want to feel as though they hold the patent on misery and that no one is allowed to out do them. I often call them “Mom”.

    Stay on the fast track to perfect health and give Ed a whoopin’.

  • liznboys

    2006/07/18 at 10:54 am

    First, my husband and I have always felt that our dogs’ mouths were much cleaner than most people, and we’d rather share our plates with our dogs, than complete strangers. Our sons will share lollipops with the dog, I tell them not to do this, but it isn’t the grossest thing they’ve done, by far.

    Secondly, Chuck hasn’t figured out the trick to stop the plate, yet? Our dog puts her paw on the plate to keep it from scooting. Granted, she is the LAZIEST dog on the face of the earth and will find any means possible to not move.

    Thirdly, (and most important) I hope all goes very well with your cancer…I fear that cancer, after all the time I spent in the sun as a teenager. My goal is to get checked out by a dermatologist, before the year is out. Good luck! (just had to sneak in an exclamation point somewhere)

  • Sandra

    2006/07/18 at 10:54 am

    I’m not a dog person, but I’d dogsit The Excellent Chuck! He’s fabulous.

    And to anyone who said that cancer wasn’t, oh, the worst thing ever: find a short pier and take a long walk.

  • Carolyn

    2006/07/18 at 10:52 am

    We are a plate licking household (2 dogs = taking turns) and I hope Chuck never discovers the concept of traction. Mine have figured out the spots in the house where they can get a better “grip”, and it’s not so much fun for us.

    And I’m just wondering, if cancer, no matter what size, is not worthy of a huge m-f’ing freakout, then what is? My english grandmother always said of these people that “if you’ve been shipwrecked, they’ve been drowned”. And of course, they are a**holes (my words, not hers).

  • amandarin

    2006/07/18 at 10:53 am

    Heather, this post contains what may actually be the greatest sentence ever:

    Jon stubbed his toe on the plate that night as we were getting ready for bed, and when he asked why there was a dinner plate on the floor in our bedroom I said, “YOU try licking hardened melted cheese off a surface without using your hands and see which room you end up in.”

    I laughed so hard when I read it that everyone in my office thought I was having some kind of fit.

  • PaintingChef

    2006/07/18 at 10:47 am

    That is FANTASTIC! My dog, Belle, does the same thing when I’m cooking. And if I have to get something out of the oven, she does not move from in front of the oven. Oh no. She just slowly flattens herself onto the floor underneath the door to the oven while its open. They’re such fun, aren’t they? And they work so hard for those leftover dishes.

  • dancingnancy

    2006/07/18 at 10:48 am

    That video is awesome! My dog is SOOOO jealous!

    Since when is ANY KIND of cancer not serious? It may not be as life threatening as others, but come on! You can freak out whenever you want Heather, I don’t believe you need to ask for permission either.

    And one more thing….which is worse, huh? Your husband putting his clogs in the dishwasher, or my husband putting his sweaty hat in? I know MANY people who commit these crimes all the time, so I deem both disgustingly normal…..

  • Elaine

    2006/07/18 at 10:50 am

    You mean there are people who don’t let their dog lick their plates? We just don’t let Fred the Wonder Corgi have any cheese, because it does things to his digestion which aren’t pretty.

    Cancer is scary and serious (and scary) no matter how small. Don’t listen to morons who say it isn’t.

  • Kiki

    2006/07/18 at 10:52 am

    We do the same thing at our house. My parent’s dog, Gus, is atune to the scraping of silverware against the plate or bowl and will sit patiently under the dining room table for his little treat. He, too, tends to push plates and bowls down the hall or into furniture. And we, too, put the plates in the dishwasher afterwards. Seriously, do people think you just set them back in the cupboard with a clear film of dog slobber? Come on!

  • jw

    2006/07/18 at 10:46 am

    I was really tempted to make a smart-ass remark but I can never top Heather. She is the best. So, I’m going to do something quite uncharacteristic. I’m going to be serious for a moment.

    “Biopsy” is the scariest word in the world. To even THINK you have to have a biopsy is scary.

    There is no such thing as a little cancer. ESPECIALLY when it’s happening to you. You can hold your friends’ hands, and you can sit outside the operating room with family, but when it’s YOU it takes on a whole other meaning.

    Different people deal with it in different ways. Here is one way –>

    You deal with this not-so-small-cancer anyway that suits you Heather. You have people pulling for you, praying for you, holding you in the Light, dancing naked around some idol or something. Just get THROUGH it.

    I don’t use !, I CAPITALIZE.

  • KellyC

    2006/07/18 at 10:42 am

    That’s how my dog “almost” rolls over too.

    Oh, and she licks off our plates when we’re finished too.

  • jonsagara

    2006/07/18 at 10:43 am

    Nice. We normally don’t let Homer lick the plates, but this July 4th we decided to let him lick the Cool Whip lids after dessert. Notice the wide eyes:

  • Valerie

    2006/07/18 at 10:44 am

    Cute dog. But, I couldn’t stop looking at the floors. I have floor envy.

    Thank you, Heather, for being brave enough to share the sucker-punches that life has thrown at you.

  • Jeni

    2006/07/18 at 10:44 am

    Just know that the majority of your readers get you and your sense of humor, and you are allowed to freak out when the word “cancer” is introduced!

  • Wendy Mac

    2006/07/18 at 10:45 am

    Some people have no life!!!! They must send hate-filled, anonymous letters to feel better about themselves!!! And to waste punctuation!!! And poor grammar!!! I can’t take it!!!

    Heather, I am so sorry people are such jerks.

    In other news, your dog is hilarious. After reading your posts about training Chuck, we have finally hired The World’s Best Dog Trainer. Well, at least, The Best In Our County.

    The dogs are upset at no longer being in control of the household, but man, when I tell them to sit-stay before getting to eat, you better believe they do it!

    Hope you are feeling well, you guys have been in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Chantel

    2006/07/18 at 10:39 am

    They’re sooooo – going to turn you into the PETA people. Then Pamela Anderson will stand naked outside your door.

    You know that’s not a bad idea-you can piss off the Mormons and PETA at the same time!

  • kate folsom

    2006/07/18 at 10:39 am

    You know, I was thinking of writing to you and telling you that your cancer is stupid and I could kick its ass. There are people RIGHT NOW whose cancer is, like, 100 times the size of yours and these people also have scurvy and are on fire, and you’re whining about some itty bitty widdle cancer? On your arm? Plenty of people live without arms! Me, I have no limbs whatsoever and you will NEVER HEAR ME COMPLAIN.

  • DravenStele

    2006/07/18 at 10:39 am

    Pleeeeeeeeeeease use some of the other, lonely, unused, and ‘underprivileged’ punctuation, people; they need your help and sympathy… “\][}{+-)(*&,

    Thank you for your attention. We will return you to your regularly scheduled leftover-licking.

    (No exclamation points were hurt in the making of this comment. But that’s only because they behaved themselves.)

  • Pioneer Woman

    2006/07/18 at 10:35 am

    It’s against my religion to use more than one exclamation point in any one sentence. Or paragraph. Or story. Or email. Or post.

  • sarahekite

    2006/07/18 at 10:35 am

    Aw, what a great video! (See, only 1 exclamation point, this time).

  • drewalter

    2006/07/18 at 10:35 am

    Chucky man is a hungry dog!

  • east side girl

    2006/07/18 at 10:37 am

    I just got a puppy, and even though she’s just a baby, she’s learned to stand up against me in the kitchen while I cook, waiting for scaps of food to fall. Last week, she got a piece of fennel. And some chicken. And some goat cheese.

    I’m a messy cook.

    I read your post last week about the cancer. That is shocking and scary for sure, and my thoughts are with you.

  • Meretrice

    2006/07/18 at 11:23 am

    I was reminded of a story my dad told me when I saw your shiny slippery floors.

    My grandfather used to breed pedigree Scottish terriers. One year, a runt was born that the family had to raise by hand. They didn’t have the heart to sell him when he grew up. He became their family pet, Rusty.

    Every evening, my grandmother would give Rusty leftovers of the family’s dinner for him to eat. This was in the 30s when one didn’t have “dog” food. Plus, Roosevelt would gotten out of his wheelchair and walked to Missouri to berate them for wastefulness if they had thrown the scraps away.

    Anyways, Rusty’s dinner bell was the sound of the tin plate hitting the linoleum floor. Rusty would run at top speed into the kitchen to get some of those precious bits of beef stew. However, as soon as his feet hit the linoleum, his feet would lose all traction. Rusty would careen out of control and smash his nose into the kitchen cabinets. Every. Night.

    One day, Rusty figured out a solution to the problem. No, no, he didn’t slow down his one-dog race for the food. He kept running as fast as he could for dinner. But when he hit the linoleum, he used a little Tokyo Drift to spin himself around so that his butt would slam into the cabinetry rather than his face!


  • oromat

    2006/07/18 at 11:22 am

    Perspective people, please.

    Heather, I’m sorry soome people were less than understanding about your recent medical discovery. Of course there are worse things going on in the world; there are also better. The point is that this is what is affecting you right here, right now and you deserve compassion and understanding. You have both, from me.

    As far as Chuck goes. Get over it people. I’m sure if we walked into your house we’d find plenty of things to trigger a gag factor.

  • Deanna McG

    2006/07/18 at 11:18 am

    Reminds me of the time we let our dog lick the rice out of the pot it was cooked in, along with the spoon. The wooden spoon. It was left half-eaten in a completely spotless pot. Hey, that made clean-up easy, though.

  • lousoz

    2006/07/18 at 11:18 am

    Your dog rocks!
    I also love the Leta babble going on in the background.
    Good luck with the cancer thing. Pay no attention to the trolls. It amazes me that those people have time to live their own life, what with being in charge of telling everyone else what to do and think! They suck, you rock.

  • Kristen from MA

    2006/07/18 at 11:19 am

    Go, Chuck, go!

  • Cindy

    2006/07/18 at 11:20 am

    I heart Chuck!

    My best to you!

  • Tiggerlane

    2006/07/18 at 11:20 am

    It’s your birthday? Well, Happy Day to you!! And you have every right to freak about the ‘c-word,’ no matter how small.

    I have tried so hard to get my dog to duplicate Chuck’s ice-cream-carton-on-the-head trick, but instead he does the SAME THING as Chuck does here…scooting that carton all over the house.

    Thanks for the Chuckiliciousness, and as you can tell, I’m a hyphen and ellipses abuser.

  • Laziza

    2006/07/18 at 11:20 am

    I had been laughing at the Chuck video, but now I’m distracted by the unintended hilarity of Rachelle’s comment.


    2006/07/18 at 11:21 am

    You’ve got to be kidding me. People berated you for throwing your CANCER around? I was impressed at how lightly you were taking it. I mean, “cancer” is never a petty matter.

    Screw them. (don’t actually screw them. unless you want. but make sure you write about it.)

  • Anne

    2006/07/18 at 11:22 am

    First of all, any cancer is serious and it’s not good. You have every right to freak out – in fact, I freaked out a little on your behalf last week. You have a healthy sense of humor about it, which is wonderful. Many good thoughts are being sent your way….

    Secondly, not only do my husband and I let our two dogs lick our plates – we let them lick the leftovers off our 19 month old’s highchair tray. I split the leftovers down the middle, remove the tray, and yell LINE UP! Both dogs stand on either side of me, anxious for the moment I bestow the tray upon them. I then continue to stand in the middle of them in order to make sure the smaller of the two gets her fair share (because the bigger dog is acting like a greedy a-hole). I also require that our babysitter knows this procedure, because I’d hate to disappoint the dogs. This is not to say that they don’t have their fair share of plate-shuffling/pushing/etc, because that’s just plain fun to watch! I wonder why they don’t just work the plate into a corner, which would hold it securely? If only they had thumbs, we’d be screwed.

    And finally, that bigger dog I was talking about? He is having a cancerous tumor removed tomorrow morning. I will wait for biopsies & so forth before I officially freak out.

    PS – I DO clean the highchair tray before the next use. But then again, I also feed the dogs from my own fork from time to time. Never said we were classy!

  • JoniV

    2006/07/18 at 11:12 am

    Having just lost my best friend, Max the Puppy, to cancer, I say let Chuck do whatever he wants. We have them in our lives for such a short time, we should spoil them rotten!

  • Brandon Rogers

    2006/07/18 at 11:12 am

    it is a shame that all of the exclamation points have been taken: so now i just stick to colons: sort of like that pound of ground beef: and, you know, people who leave disgusted emails 😉

  • Deb

    2006/07/18 at 11:12 am

    OMG I almost peed myself laughing b/c when I read this I thought immediately of my husband who would fucking FREAK OUT if we let the dog lick our plates and then WASH them in the DISHWASHER that STERILIZES things…..

    I WOULD let our dog lick stuff but he is so bloody allergic to everything under the sun and he licks and licks and licks until I am going to scream and often do.

    Lick on Chuck!

  • kelly

    2006/07/18 at 11:15 am

    Happy Birthday to you, Heather!

    Did anyone ever tell you that Chuck has the longest neck ever?

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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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