Heater, Mother of Lance

Life with two dogs. Much different than life on a beach with a margarita.

The addition of Dame Micro Turdlet to our family has increased the chaos of our lives by about 400 percent, although in the last week I have only wanted to drown her in a pot of chicken broth two or three times. There was this one time, I think I was reading a website or a book, I can’t remember, but it said that Australian Shepherds are smart animals, or I guess as smart as one can be when one’s main goal in life is to research the smell of someone else’s butt so that one can file it away in the scent cabinet of one’s brain. Very Important Work.

And I trusted that this might be true because I have seen Australian Shepherds acting smartly, being very competent companions, fetching newspapers and brewing the morning coffee. So you can understand my frustration when five weeks into owning one of my very own I look up and she is squatting in the middle of my very clean kitchen and emptying her bowels on the floor. And then afterward she looks up and is all, what? Why are you screaming at me like that? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So I had a total breakdown, and while on vacation in San Diego after Coco had four accidents in the hotel room, I turned to Jon and said, hi, how are you? I am unhappy and since you like to fix things I’ve got a project for you: one, please housebreak the dog because whatever I am doing is not working. Two, you seem to be unreasonably grumpy lately, and if you didn’t know this already there are things out there that can help you overcome that emotion. I even have some of those things in my purse. Here. Take one.

Now, I am right this instant knocking my whole head on wood, but Coco hasn’t had an accident in 12 days. Because Jon has been physically tied to that dog for three straight weeks, has taught her how to touch the door with her paw, has gotten up in the middle of many snowy nights, put on his snow boots and stood outside in his pajamas so that she could take care of business. And we think she finally gets it, although there was that one day when I was looking through a stack of junk mail in the kitchen and I casually looked up to find a long path of poopy paw prints weaving its way around the dining table and off into the living room. You know how sometimes in movies the camera will focus in on one object at the same time that it is pulling away from everything else? To signal to the audience, hey, this is a TOTALLY DRAMATIC MOMENT, PAY ATTENTION. My vision did just that, I closed in on one poopy paw print and the rest of the room went blurry, and I thought, hmm, what is that funny, familiar feeling in my gut? Oh right. Nausea.

So I start following the path thinking for sure that I’m going to stumble upon a hidden pile of dog poop, except that the path keeps winding and going on forever, and my house is now just a huge canvas covered in poopy polka dots, and why can I not find the poop? In and out of the kitchen, around the entire perimeter of the living room, down the hallway into the office and back again, you’d think that the dog would be all, what is this yucky, wet substance on my foot, here, let me STAND STILL SO I DON’T GET IT ON ANYTHING. But instead the dog was all, maybe it will wear off if I WANDER AROUND AIMLESSLY.

And then the path trots merrily down the carpeted steps, through the carpeted hallway downstairs and out the basement door. And when you add two and two together you get oh, phew! Someone stepped in poop outside! But don’t celebrate just yet because SO WHAT? THE HOUSE IS STILL COVERED IN SHIT. And by this time Jon has both dogs quarantined, and because I am out of my mind I go looking for which dog did this, and how do I go about this inspection? Do you really want to know? Because my gag reflex is already starting to act up just thinking about it, and fine. Okay. I smelled their paws. I admit it. There is no excuse, I just had to know, you know? And when I smelled one of Chuck’s back paws, the one that had stepped in his own poop outside, I died. And fell over dead. My obituary read: KILLED BY MALODOROUS PAW. They sang Mormon hymns at my funeral.

Two hours later the path of poopy paw prints was finally clean, and man, we should have sold tickets to that spectacle. I wasn’t thinking clearly, because I was dead, and instead of tying up the dogs we just let them run around while we cleaned, and Coco was all, how crazy is this, there are treats EVERYWHERE! And she’s meandering around the house licking the floor. And Leta is jumping up and down on the couch screaming I DIDN’T POOP ON THE FLOOR! IT WASN’T ME! Because you clearly cannot get ahead in life if you are not actively taking advantage of every opportunity to make yourself look good. The dog tracked poop all over the floor, yes, but more importantly SHE DIDN’T. And she was expecting a trophy.

Anyway, whatever. Coco didn’t have an accident, it was all just a huge, messy misunderstanding. And this week is the first week since we’ve had her that I haven’t felt like a prisoner in my own home, waiting waiting waiting to walk around the corner and step into a fresh puddle of urine. Also, Jon is considerably less grumpy, I’ll let him give you the specifics, but in an effort to help alleviate his grumpiness further we spent 17 hours at the doctor’s office yesterday getting him a CT scan and trying to figure out why his sinuses are so mean to him. The scan looked good, although the ear, nose, and throat specialist was a total nerd and was cracking nerd jokes about bones that made no sense to me because I did not get a medical degree from Harvard. And as he’s pointing to the illuminated CT scan and laughing at why that little thing right there? That’s called the sphenoid bone. Get it? GET IT? Jon and I are pretending to understand, laughing nervously like, yeah. That sphenoid bone is a total riot.

  • dooce

    2008/02/15 at 11:50 am

    That must have been horrible.

    House of dooce

  • Lori Magno

    2008/02/15 at 11:52 am

    *choking back tears in a meeting right now. Hugs from Badcat (who totally didn’t throw up on the white oriental carpet last night) and T-Bone (who totally di)

  • rui

    2008/02/15 at 11:52 am

    wow. that’s amazing.

    happy valetines day? LOL

  • d'Auria Groux-Holt

    2008/02/15 at 11:54 am

    well since your ear/throat/nose specialist and I share an affinity for bad jokes:

    what a shit show!

    At least Leta didn’t think it was a great idea to copy Coco and run around licking up all those chocolate-y treats too. It’s the little things, really.

  • Jill S.

    2008/02/15 at 11:55 am

    I have no idea what I would do without you to CRACK MY ASS UP.

    Bad news. I have an Australian Shephard and while her brother is apparently a genius, mine smells crotches for a living.

  • Stephanie

    2008/02/15 at 11:55 am

    And no video of this entire spectacle? Oh lord, I am laughing my ass off. Out loud. In a room by myself. The Mormon hymns at your funeral? Lovely.

  • Vanessa

    2008/02/15 at 11:56 am

    Comments, OPEN. I just can’t resist. And the thought of bing FIRST on Dooce. Well, that made my head spin.

  • Miss Peas

    2008/02/15 at 11:56 am

    I feel your pain. my dog is 13 years old and STILL hasn’t gotten the hang of peeing outside.

  • Jules

    2008/02/15 at 11:56 am

    It’s a damn good thing that Australian Shepherds aren’t known for their wall-climbing skills!
    House of Jules

  • George

    2008/02/15 at 11:58 am

    This is an amazingly well-told story. 🙂

    I feel like I might just assign it in one of my classes.

    Well done, madam. Well done indeed.

  • feelbetternow

    2008/02/15 at 11:58 am

    I have really been wondering how coco and you were doing. after a huge last year full of many large changes, I foolishly decided a week ago to bring home a pup. long story short I immediately knew this was the wrong time for a pup, and that I was trying to fill a hole in my heart. I tried for five days, but after losing seven lbs., breaking blood vessels in my face from vomitting, night terrors and panic attacks, I admitted to myself that now is not the right time for me to own a puppy. I returned her to the rescue and had them keep my donation. It was a terribly hard decision, and I am having a very hard time forgiving myself, but the clear physical manifestation of my stress was sending quite a message. unfortunately, I have lost a couple of ‘friends’ due to this, and all week I just kept thinking about Heather, and wishing there were someone like her near to me who could likely understand exactly how I felt: a prisoner in my own home.
    p.s. hope john’s face is better soon. does he use a neti pot ever?

  • Anonymous

    2008/02/15 at 11:58 am

    We taught our australian shithead to ring a bell tied to the door when he wants out. He now proceeds to ring the bell everytime we sit down or walk into another room. If we don’t come immediatly… he puts the string in his mouth and shakes his head then turns around with a look like ‘hey bitch… I know what this mean… open the door.. NOW!’
    It is rather annoying.

  • Ms. Karen

    2008/02/15 at 11:59 am

    “Poopy polka-dots” Despite being totally gross, the way you write it… Sorry, but I’m laughing at you.

    Oh, and I hope Jon’s bone is, um, ok…

  • Lyndsey

    2008/02/15 at 11:59 am

    That’s too funny about your nerdy doctor. In college I had a pysch professor who cracked all sorts of unfunny, over your head jokes in class all the time. I would laugh just so there wouldn’t be silence in the room. It could be so awkward sometimes.

    It makes me wonder if Chuck purposely stepped in his own doo-doo, hoping that Coco would get the blame.

  • k-m-s

    2008/02/15 at 12:00 pm

    Love it! I’m dying at my desk laughing right now! Maybe it was the glass of wine at lunch… No, it’s definitely you!

    Thank you!

  • Shelley

    2008/02/15 at 12:01 pm

    Laughing out-freakin’-loud. Some kid in passing in the hallway outside my classroom just gave me a weird look: “There’s that teacher who reads Dooce during her prep period and pees herself.”

  • Anonymous

    2008/02/15 at 12:01 pm

    Wow. Now if only Jon could train my dog not to each kitty litter. How do you make a dog understand that they AREN’T dog treats that we’ve hidden for him in a pile of sand(?).

  • Rachel

    2008/02/15 at 12:01 pm

    I feel like our dog situations are paralelling each other! I’m living with my sister who has a dog named Frankie who CONSTANTLY gets called Chuck by all the avid Dooce readers in our household. I just recently acquired an Australian Shepherd mix, Miles, who looks nothing like Coco but is going through the same puppy stuff at the same time.

    My first thought when getting out of the shower this morning and finding puppy poop in the living room was “Thank God, it’s solid.”

  • Nothing But Bonfires

    2008/02/15 at 12:01 pm

    Maybe we’re all looking too deeply into it, and it’s just the word “bone” that’s funny. You know, if you’re 12. Was the doctor 12? Those Harvard types are some fast learners.

  • Annie

    2008/02/15 at 12:02 pm

    When we adopted our puppy, she was fully housebroken at 8 weeks old. She peed inside once when she had an infection and she was so sick her little kidneys were swollen up like kiwis, and even then I began screaming, “NOOOOOOO. YOU ARE HOUSEBROKEN.” As if she would logically look at me and go, “Oh, okay then. Let me just go get a paper towel and I’ll clean that right up.”

    Whenever a friend gets a new puppy and it acts like a new puppy and does things like shit on the carpet, I always bring up how MY dog was perfectly housebroken by then. And then they shoot fire out of their eyes at me.

    But I figure that I have to brag about the dog not shitting on the carpet because one day when I have a kid it’s going to be the spawn of Satan. Which will then give my friends a chance to say, “My 7 year old doesn’t shit on the floor.”

    See, it all evens out in the end.

  • Jennifer

    2008/02/15 at 12:02 pm

    Oh this makes me feel SO much better. In fact, I sort of squeeled with glee, cause, you know what?
    I’ve been having to clean cat urine from our bed. Our BED…soaked through the duvet, through the comforter, through the cotten knit Ralph Lauren blanket, through the flat sheet, through the fitted sheet, THROUGH the mattress pad and finally came to rest on my Allergy Sheet. Thank GOD that crap isn’t absorbent.

    Done that twice in 4 days….lucky, lucky me.
    And now, lucky, lucky, YOU.

  • Joody

    2008/02/15 at 12:03 pm

    I was hoping you would say it was mud. Coco probably framed Chuck.

  • Molly

    2008/02/15 at 12:04 pm

    It’s okay that you’ve been thinking of drowning your dog in chicken broth…I guess. As long as it’s organic chicken broth, because let’s practice sustainable consumption here.

    Poopy polka dots. So awesome.

  • Sarah

    2008/02/15 at 12:04 pm

    Oh.My.God Heather .. one of your best post ever. I feel like hurling myself on the floor and rolling around in out-of-control laughter; but my co-workers might think I have gone mad.

    I can totally relate: fast-reverse to puppyhood for our dog and different house (8 yrs ago), with beautiful white carpeted stairs. I call home, my husband happens to have been doing his business but leaps from the toilet to get the phone – about half a second into the phone call I hear “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” and oh yes, puppy had hauled contents (including tp) out of toilet and is devouring it whilst trotting galiently down white carpeted stairs like he just won the grand prize!

    We ripped up carpet. Plywood floor and stairs for 2 yrs.We moved.

    The end.

  • JennyM

    2008/02/15 at 12:08 pm

    Sphenoid bone! Oh, man. That one kills.

    If Jon finds out about a sinusectomy or sinus replacement therapy or SOMETHING, I’m definitely interested.

    I have spent time sobbing in the closet and wondering why the dog doesn’t understand fucking ENGLISH already. (Or, if he does understand it, then why is he such a shithead sometimes?)

    That Chuck is devious, man. He was totally playing Coco for a patsy…

  • Jeff

    2008/02/15 at 12:09 pm

    Could you go over the footprints on the floor again? I don’t understand…

  • Dawn

    2008/02/15 at 12:10 pm

    Sinus problems— have you tried the neti pot?!?!?!? Dr. Oz did a demo on an hour television program. If I have to say her name I might throw up.

  • dmarie

    2008/02/15 at 12:10 pm

    This story has just convinced me not to get another dog. I don’t know what I was thinking. Thanks.

  • Wine Dog

    2008/02/15 at 12:11 pm

    I think my puppy broke my sphenoid bone when she put her gi-normous paw in my face this morning.

  • amy

    2008/02/15 at 12:12 pm

    you kill me woman. you are hilarious.

  • AmyM

    2008/02/15 at 12:12 pm

    Perhaps Chuck should have his Blue’s Clues privileges revoked, no?

    Or at the very least, tell him that it is BLUE’s Clues, not POOH’s Clues.

    Yes, I do have small children in my house. How’d you know?

  • Benjamin Boudreau

    2008/02/15 at 12:12 pm

    Ugh…I had two seven-month-old puppies for a weekend. The first day I nearly drowned in their excrements, the next two days I started to actually want to.


  • Billie

    2008/02/15 at 12:12 pm

    My favorite bone name is VOMER (another bone in your skull). I think it just sounds funny. Like some furry thing that lives in burrows and comes out at night to feed.

  • Roberto Boone

    2008/02/15 at 12:16 pm

    Dogs are expert shitters. I wish I had the shitting skills of a K-9. There is a reason dogs don’t need to wipe their own asses. Their shits are usually always quick and clean.

  • Laura B.

    2008/02/15 at 12:17 pm

    Good lord woman…”My obituary read: KILLED BY MALODOROUS PAW. They sang Mormon hymns at my funeral.” I think I snorted at that one. And the paragraph about Leta being so proud it wasn’t her…makes me want children.

  • Nicole

    2008/02/15 at 12:19 pm

    Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt with an aussie. Once took Reya to a friends house with the promise that she was well enough housetrained that she wouldn’t go inside.

    Not only was I wrong–she did–but then she decided to step in it, and walk over ALL the carpet in the house with her shit covered foot.

    The puppy experience, overall, has been great. Right now, she’s recovering from being spayed, and someday in the future, I hope she achieves a happy balance between queen shithead and totally doped up.

    Until then, a lot of swearing happens in my house.

  • molly

    2008/02/15 at 12:20 pm

    There is nothing wrong with smelling a dog’s paws to get to the bottom of a problem, trust me. I can literally tell the difference between the lovely bowel movements of every animal in my house (3 cats, 1 dog). You just walk in and go, “Oh, Tubby, what did you do?” I have not determined if this is a curse or a gift yet.

    But oh, my poor doggy, she’s getting so old and isn’t as good as holding it anymore. She’s SUCH a good girl, but if we take her out too early in the evening, then she has to go earlier in the morning. In the 5 years we’ve had her, she’s only pooped on the floor 4 times, and the poor thing can’t even look at us she’s so ashamed. That’s when I hold her and says, come on, what grown adult hasn’t had an accident? Just no one’s willing to admit it!

  • katliz

    2008/02/15 at 12:20 pm

    Usually I get crazed when my psychotic cat projectile vomits all over the rug or sofa, when, in fact, they are the only porous surfaces in the house. But a house full of poopy-prints? *shudder*

    UNLESS you count the time my boyfriend snuggled up in a blanket on the sofa one evening, only to find me trying desperately to hold back my snickering. You see, right on his shoulder was an enormous heap of dried cat vomit that was falling off piece by piece every time he moved. The speed of his ascent off of that sofa may have broken a sound barrier or two.

  • chris

    2008/02/15 at 12:25 pm

    We have a 10 week old papillon pup. Add him to my 5 over active kids and I have total chaos, I keep having those *what was I thinking?* moments as I clean up poop throughout the house. But I would never tell my mom, I don’t want to hear *I told you so* over and over.

  • Kelly B

    2008/02/15 at 12:25 pm

    OK, this is what my dog Cassie does on a regular basis.

    First she tells us she needs to go outside. She looks out and says … huh, its (raining/snowing/wet/cold/dark/odd looking) out. That’s ok, I’ll just check back later to see if it is (dry/not snowy/warmer/light out/normal looking).

    Rinse and repeat until instead of asking to go outside she drops down the basement stairs, takes care of business, and then does the “can you open the door” bark from the bottom of the stairs.

    *sigh* She’s a bit brain damaged from her early life as a hoarder’s dog.

    Crazy puppies have nothing on my crazy three year old.

  • Karen Sugarpants

    2008/02/15 at 12:28 pm

    Oh I feel your pain. That is why I must introduce you to this because I have light cream coloured bur bur (my husband made a big mistake with this for the family room) that has been shit on by Mylie and Ruffy and this stuff WORKS: http://img.epinions.com/images/opti/d9/7f/Woolite_Oxy_Deep_Cleaner-resized200.jpg

  • Allisone

    2008/02/15 at 12:29 pm

    Why has no one offered to get this woman a bag of dorritos? Can’t you see she’s in distress?
    You have my sympathy, dear.

  • L Norris

    2008/02/15 at 12:31 pm

    Wow. That was some serious laughter. We have a long haired cat who sometimes gets poop in his overly long butt hair. You never seem to notice until you pick him up and stick your hand in it.
    The last time this happened it was my husband’s hand. I had to clip the offending hairs off the cat’s butt after a wet towel didn’t work. My husband was holding the cat, so when the poopy hair clump fell, it did so on his white t-shirt.
    All I could do was lay down in the floor and laugh hysterically. He was not pleased.

  • Courtney

    2008/02/15 at 12:34 pm

    My cat likes to sleep with her paws near my face. Sometimes, that is how I know I have missed a day of cleaning the litter box. I feel your pain!

  • Melly

    2008/02/15 at 12:34 pm

    A friend’s Lab recently had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair major intestinal damage due to the fact that he ate another pair of her underwear.

    Think I’d be happier smelling paws for poop than digging through piles of poop hoping for signs of my passing underwear.

  • rochelle

    2008/02/15 at 12:35 pm

    sorry bout your luck. no wonder landlords say “no pets!” maybe they’re not as fun, but cat puke doesn’t track quite as far as doggie turd.

  • Jen

    2008/02/15 at 12:35 pm

    My mother always told me that the reason dogs and babies are so cute is that otherwise you’d… Well. It’s a damn good thing they’re cute.

  • Michele

    2008/02/15 at 12:36 pm

    I had the housebreaking issue with the two evil cats who reside in my home. They are sisters, and when we got them as kittens, we were assured that they were litter trained. WRONG! Every hour it seemed I had a mess to deal with somewhere in my house. There didn’t seem to be a corner of the house that they didn’t “visit” at one time or another. But now they come and sit on me while I read, so I guess I have to keep them.

  • Megan

    2008/02/15 at 12:37 pm

    Great story!

    This is why I keep telling my husband we don’t need a dog.

  • katszeye

    2008/02/15 at 12:37 pm

    Excuse me…. that’s organic FREE RANGE chicken broth. 🙂

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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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