Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • My first dog was a nightmare in house training. And she is a labrador retriever, a “smart” dog. One thing I learned? No matter how smart a dog is, she’s still a dog. And she couldn’t get with the house training program. I was literally sleeping propped up against her kennel. AND I even put a matchstick up her butt because a book said that would make her want to poop. Instead, she Freaked Out and ran around like, “Oh shit! There’s a MATCHSTICK up my butt!”

    To make matters worse, she started to have Explosive Diarrhea. And when we went away to a nice b&b for New Year’s 1999, we spent the whole night cleaning up her pee and praying it would not stain the antique rug. Finally, I gave up and threw newspapers down on the kitchen floor. Three months later, her bladder grew and she’s been pretty much normal ever since.

  • Anne

    I had a boxer puppy several years ago, and was very unsuccessful in trying to house break her. She either just didn’t get it, or didn’t want to. So one night I take her outside, she doesn’t do anything, so after an hour we go back inside. Not five minutes later, she runs off to my bderoom, jumps up onto my bed, proceeds to plop and squat on the bad, and pees all over it.

    I won’t get into anymore details than that, but let’s just say she was totally house broken after that…LoL!!! I loved your post, well written and very funny. I feel yer pain.

  • Lila

    Sorry… but that is exactly why you don’t have animals (other than the human variety) live in YOUR HOUSE. Gross.

  • I hate paws that step in poop…such a mess!

    The paw on the door is a great thing – we taught our puppy to ring a bell (it is hanging on a string on the door). Works like a charm when you are in another room or if you bring her to someone else’s house.

    Best of luck with Coco’s continued training!

  • Ely

    You’re going to look back on this in a year or two when the whole family is sitting around with the dogs…and you’ll just look at one spot that was particularly hard to clean and start laughing. Then everyone will catch on and the whole room will just explode.

    Happens to my family every thanksgiving…and when we all kind of wound down from the laughter and look at our dog…she gives us this face, like “WHAT ARE YOU GUYS LAUGHING ABOUT!?!? LOOK HOW CUTE I AM!”

  • RudyMom

    I had the same experience, EXCEPT! EXCEPT! the dog with the poopy paw got in my CAR after stepping in it, and let me tell you, THAT was exciting to discover when I arrived at my destination. There’s not enough bleach in the world to console me.

  • Well, our Spitz, Angel, has a habit of pooping in the floor – and proceeding to eat it before I can yell ‘NO!’

    Decide which is worse – poopy prints, or a dog kiss that MAY be covered in shit?

  • it’s really hard to housebreak the second dog after you’ve got one that GETS IT. it seems like you forget how hard it was the first time around.

    our dog is getting better…but she has her days. she tries to hide the evidence by eating it, too. YUK.

  • I am going to have nightmares full of shitty pawprints all over my house. There is nothing — and I mean nothing — more disgusting than the smell of dog shit. BTW, I’m very pleased that Jon doesn’t have a brain tumor.

  • Oh my god I did the same thing not too long ago. My 6 month old dog had just gone outside to do business, but all she did was a pee, and then later, during Will & Grace, I began to notice an unpleasent aroma that I proceeded to track all over my apartment all the while yelling at Tonks. And then I realized that I had stepped in dog poo outside and was currently tracking crap all over my carpet. Good times. Tonks still gives me shit for that one.

  • That story made me die a little inside. Poop! Everywhere poop!

    Makes me glad for my cats. Though by saying that I know I will wake up tomorrow morning and immediately step in a partially digested hairball.

  • I love you, and jon, and your lovely daughter, and your two crazy dogs. Thanks for this website.

  • You crack me up.

  • You had me at Micro Turdlet.

  • sara

    Want me to make you feel better? My pup was peeing ALL THE TIME even though he used to be litter trained, and the vet realized it wasn’t him being ornery, it was that he had so much anxiety over my illness he couldn’t help it. So my DOG is on ANTIDEPRESSANTS. And on a high dose of them, at that. Poor little guy. When I told my mom about it, she said, “Oh, I so understand. He inherited it from me.”

    🙂

  • Wow! I think I almost died laughing. It’s very hard to hold in the laughter while I’m working. It could have been worse, Chuck could have stepped in it with 2 different feet! Thanks for making my day!

  • jane

    my dog – after housebreaking and about a month after allowing her freedom inside the house when we were out – chewed up a blue ink pen while home alone. Not only did we find a puddle of blue ink on the carpet, but she also had one paw that really got soaked and tracked all over the house. through the bedroom, down the stairs, across the living room, up on the couch – just the way you described. My cleanup was a lot of work but at least there was no gag reflex reaction!

  • red

    you are quite the story teller – thanks for another belly laugh!

    are you planning to do another “meet and greet” of sorts while you’re in austin?

  • jaime

    This is exactly why i’m not much of an animal person. The cuteness and the cuddliness is just a facade for how disgusting it can be to have to take care of them. Although, some people feel the same way about babies, and I love all babies basically on sight. Pick your poison, I guess.

    At least babies don’t eat their own poop!

  • hellohahanarf

    why oh why don’t they all avoid steppnig in it? i have one who avoids anything muddy or crappy and another one who steps in ANYthing.

    loved your story telling…

  • Amy

    So I work in a silent office. SI-LENT. I think I may have seriously damaged some internal organs trying to fight the riotous laughter that was threatening to fill the office with, God forbid, sound. The whole thing was amusing, to me, of course, beings I’m not you but the end got me. I was silently hysterical. And yes, it is possible… though painful.

    Thanks for speeding up a few moments of my never ending workday.

  • Big Daddy

    Yeah, we had an Australian Shepard who was also supposed to be super smart. Sure, the dog WAS smart but only in figuring out ways to do what HE wanted to do versus what WE wanted him to do.

  • Dan

    Thanks a bunch. I was planning on making chocolate chip cookies today, but I think I’ll just start drinking early. And, heavily… Very, very heavily.

  • mel

    Our mini aussie pup (about 2 weeks younger than Coco) is around the same stage in housebreaking and I thought things were bad. I was wrong…it clearly could be worse!! Thanks for making me feel better 😉

  • Love the site! After finding it weeks ago I just finised reading it all the way to the end or beginning, which ever way you look at it. Coco and Chuck are adorable dogs. I have two dogs of my own and though they are total pains in the ass sometimes I love them both dearly! Your little girl is gorgeous by the way, not that that has anything to do with this post or that you don’t already realize that!

  • floridagal

    so why have dogs in the first place? it does look like LOT of work

  • Ok- I’m a nerd, but I totally wish you’d written the sphenoid bone joke down…

    Want a 5 month old/55lb doberman to add to your poop-parade?

  • Hey Dooce, I really have fun reading your stuff… your damn funny.Your writings are always hilarious.This is one reason i dont wana have a pet though i really love animals especially dogs….. but cant roam around the house cleaning thier stuffs…. great work…

  • our puppy – with us for 4 weeks now.

    he knows to poop outside, but not pee. and he looks at me, all sheepishly, as he crouches (because he doesn’t know to lift up his leg yet) and just does his business on the kitchen floor. my kitchen floor will never be clean again.

    as usual heather, that was hilarious.

  • Becky H.

    Hey, Dooce: I just discovered you site — and love it. You are honest and brave, admirably so, almost to the point where it can be painful to read your posts. Again, I mean this as a compliment, as your honesty makes you entirely unique among bloggers.

    Keep going; ignore the insecure, petty naysayers.

    I enjoyed your link earlier this week to the “I can’t breathe” video. I come from grape-stomping country (Napa) and forwarded it to my vineyard-owner dad.

    I received this one today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5z4Vs26-TI&feature=related.

    It’s been around awhile probably, but it’s undoubtedly one of the all-time pranks on a telemarketer.

    For the best laugh, don’t read ahead; minimize your screen and just listen.

    My stomach muscles be achin’. 🙂

    Incidentally, I’ll post this sucker if only I can read/hear the Captcha. I’m never good with these dang things. ://

  • I cannot even begin to tell you how hard I’m laughing at this moment. Good thing I went potty before I read this, otherwise I would have peed myself.

  • when i first started reading your post i was like, chaos? you think you have chaos? try having a 4 year old daughter and 2 year old twin boys. after reading through the entire post (and both laughing and cringing) i realized i didn’t have a damn thing to say…except – i love reading your site and thanks for making me laugh.

  • Augh, I hate the search for poop. You expect poop around every corner. My cat randomly started pooping on the floor for seemingly no reason a while ago, it turns out she was just angry because we moved the rug that used to be in front of her litter box.

    Why are animals so frustrating sometimes?

  • I wanna say “bless your heart” but I can’t quit laughing long enough to get the words outta my mouth!

  • C

    I had to stop reading halfway through and then start again because the thought that someday I may have to spend two hours cleaning up shit residue makes me feel overwhelmed to the point where slipping into a coma sounds like a good idea.

  • Anonymous

    My boy dog sometimes pees on his own front leg. And then he goes and rubs his face in squirrel poo. And that is how he came to be known as Pee-Paw Poopy-Face.

    Seriously, this post totally cracked me up, because I have been there myself.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  • I have to say – house training is why I don’t want a dog. I’ve been fostering a sick puppy from the Humane Society for the past two… long… weeks… and you would have literally died a dozen or more times at my house. Poop everywhere. Thankfully, I did manage to train her to walk on a leash instead of cower when a leash came near her – but I just couldn’t get the paw on the door to be let out technique down. Where was Jon when I needed him. Oh, right. Training your dog.

    Love dogs. Hate poop.

  • Ha. Stealing the first comment for yourself? priceless.

    Poopy paw prints? Disgusting.

  • HA HA!

    101 reasons to NOT get a DOG!

    Thanks for the laugh. Sorry you had to clean up the mess though! I would rather clean up after the 3 kids and husband. Unless I could trade the 3 kids in for the dog…..hmmm….

    Just found your site few weeks ago and LOVE it!

    Michelle

  • oh god… i was almost crying i was laughing so hard.

    You’re lucky you didn’t get a pet with a food allergy because at our house we are constantly finding out that the kitten cat eat that brand it has a dye she is allergic to. She tells us by hiding little piles of kitty puke in out shoe and in the middle of the hall.

    Lil’Sara
    house of the urban pirate

  • Dog crates are a marvelous thing. I highly recommend them.

  • Rosemary

    Poop tracks from a toddler are no less horrifying. I feel your pain.

  • Heather

    I just have to add to this discussion. I love to tell this story whenever it is appropriate, or when it’s not appropriate.

    I’m the owner of a pug, 1 1/2 years old, finally house trained. But around christmas, while I was in the living room wrapping gifts, a horrific smell traveled to the living room. I followed it to my bedroom, just in time to see the dog slinking out from underneath my bed. Oh god. She looked sad, and scared. I lifted up the corner of my king sized mattress to see the biggest pile of poo ever. And it was everywhere. 2 big piles. I busted the dog the previous day eating bacon grease out of a trash bag by the back door, so you can imagine what might have caused this. I called my husband, who was working out of town, crying. I moved the mattress, put on rubber gloves, and spent the next 2 hours scrubbing and febrezing the mess.

    I know she was sick, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it. And just to let my husband know what he missed out on, I laid a water bottle next to the poops for scale, shot a picture with my phone and sent it to him.

  • TLC

    Not to be a total downer, but if you think poopy paws are bad…wait until she EATS her own poop. Uh huh. And then breathes on you. And then…well, you get the picture. Our dog (1/2 australian shepard, 1/2 golden) LOVES that one. sure they’re smart, but have really bad manners.

  • thank you for reminding me why i didn’t want a 95 pound yellow lab, a crazy bird/mouse hunting cat AND a drooling baby all in the same house. i feel for ya.

  • Smelling your dog’s poopy paws? You’re brave, I’ll give you that. Pictures and/or vidoes would have been nice though, especially done in the dramatic move style you described.

  • I think that is the funniest thing you have written yet! I think it strikes me as such because I can myself imagine the HORROR of such a situation. Just this morning, one of my dogs had something going on with his foot, and I summoned up visions of coming home from work to find bloody pawprints all over the carpet. What fun that would be to try to clean up! So I took him to the vet (I also felt sorry for the big galoot). And I also had a puppy who, in my opinion is one of the smartest dogs in the universe, but for some reason she really couldn’t be convinced to not pee on the carpet! And then one day–voila! She finally changed her mind, and we lived happily ever after.

  • Damn. I got beat to the “organic, free-range” punch. Twice.

    But thanks for the laugh, and for reminding me why we’re so never getting a puppy.

  • I know the frustration oh too well. My 2 year-old Basset Hound who actually is housebroken decided to get a little too excited at new people who came to dinner the other night and showed them how she can jump on a couch and pee. She’s never done that before and… well, I pray she never does again.

  • Anonymous

    it’s been a long time since you’ve written about poo. i’ve missed the poo posts.