An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • Rachel

    My son crapped on the stairs when I was unwise enough to let him loose without a nappy during potty training. I stepped in it and then trod it around the house a bit before I noticed. Cue storm of frenzied sniffing of floors and scrubbing with Dettol. Eventually I had eliminated all the malodorous elements and had calmed down enough to talk to the boy. I fixed him with the hairy eyeball and said “SOMEONE pooed on the stairs. Who do you think it might have been?” and he looked up at me and said “It was me!” in a tone that clearly expressed that he thought I was an idiot to be asking, who else in our one-child, no-pet household might have crapped on the stairs? If he’d known the expression “you numbnut” he would have used it.

  • Look at it this way: At least you weren’t out in the snow, at night, fresh out of the shower wearing only Jon’s slippers and coat that barely covered your ass, when you died smelling your dog’s foot.

    RIP Dooce.

  • I just loved this story. I could totally picture it in my mind.

    I just wrote about your site and this post on my own blog, it was that good.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  • Denise Beck

    What the hell IS a sphenoid bone???

  • Next you can write a story about a reader that peed her pants reading your post. Followed with the story of her human offspring pooping in the hall — walking, pooping, walking, pooping… with little baby sister crawling along behind her eating the droppings.

    How did we have anything to talk about before we had animals (both the two and four legged kinds)?!

  • If you haven’t heard it already, you should really listen to The Poopsmith Song (

    Poop may not go in the potty for doggies but it definitely should not go in the house! Or on the light switch down the hall, for that matter.

    I’m so glad the days of house training are long behind me. Don’t miss the surprise poops one bit! Good luck.

  • There’s a small female Jack Russell puppy in my house. I refuse to claim her. I think she earns commission on how many times she can infuriate the humans with her constant piss/shit on the carpet or wood. It is absolutely maddening that she cannot get the hang of going outdoors, no matter what is tried. What are the secrets? Further, how do you get rid the omnipresent smell of urine in the carpet?

  • pattyhans

    I SO needed that laugh! We have a 9 month old puppy that we thought we could leave alone for awhile. I came home to find it had snowed feathers from the pillows she chewed up and a book (fortunately mine, not the library’s) torn up, a picture knocked over and half a chewed up banana on the floor. And the whole time my five year old granddaughter is repeating, over and over, in the smuggest possible voice, “Maggie was naughty, huh? Maggie made a huge mess, didn’t she?” The unsaid part being “Hey, Grandma, look at me – I’m NOT in trouble!) Life is so easy at 5.

  • I hope you were thinking of using Free range Chicken broth…

  • I just had to comment after I wiped up the diet coke I sprayed out of my nose and all over my computer monitor I was laughing so hard. Anyone a member of the Obsessive Dog and Puppy Pee and Poop Patrol Club can so relate. It’s a freaking full-time job at my house. I’m obsessed – I lay in wait and if my puppy Jo wanders aimlessly too long or takes one sniff on a rug and I’m all over her. I can’t tally the number of times I have woken up, stepped out of bed in a dark room and into a pile or poo or pee. She was doing so good and then she was spayed and it undid all prior potty training – this also marked the beginning of the eating of her older sib’s poo. She’s a great pyrenees so she’s a 70 pound puppy – 70 pounders make big poo…it’s times like this when I mutter out loud and often to no one but the quadrupeds that the inmates are running the asylum. Thanks for the hilarious conclusion to the week.

  • Your writing is so awesome… I felt like I was right there, sniffing the poop right along with you. Thanks a ton! LOL

  • Poochie bells and time and being right on the dog all the time will help.

    repeat after me, poochie bells.

  • amy

    you are the bestest, funniest writer ever. what a visual. once, on vacation, one of the four dogs in residence (two of which were mine) ate 1/2 of a raw bass. and i got down and smelled every dog’s breath to see who had sushi. and who wanted a little lemon to go with it.

    we have a 9 month old golden, and she was housebroken by 5 months. and yes, it’s nice to walk around the house in socks again without holding our breaths and noses.

  • Brenda

    We trained our dog to use a desk bell to signal she wanted to go outside. I’m sure your dog would pick it up quickly, australian shepherds are smarter than cockapoos, generally 🙂 When all 6 humans in the house ignored the bell, she would bang more insistently, and if we still ignored her, she’d move it around the floor like a hockey puck. Anyway… I’m sure you could train your puppy to use it really quickly, and it’ll cut down the times she asks to go outside but you don’t see her touching the door. You might want to give it a try.

  • LOL! i seriously loved the way you wrote that. how comical. ah, dogs are wonderful… but no, that’s the reason i don’t have any. i have two cats. who poop in a box and all i have to do is scoop it out when i’m ready and awake. screw waking up in the middle of the night to deal with bathroom urgencies. i hate worrying about my own urgencies, let alone someone else’s. lol.

  • Kris

    I’m pretty much pissing all over the floor myself … LAUGHING at this. Yup, the mormon hymns did me in, too.

    As the owner of three dogs, seven (no, wait, EIGHT (forgot about the stray that ‘found’ us this week)) cats, umpteen turtles and two little boys, I understand. In that warm, icky, smelly, uriny (is that word?) kind of way.

  • Misanthrope

    To the commenters:

    Why is it such a huge flipping deal to be first to comment? Is it on your resume that you were once first to comment on Did it help you get a job or did HR toss it in recycling and go “Wow. Lame.”? And why do people who say “O.M.G. I’m first! FIRST!” never have anything more to say than that they are first? Why have they never ever noticed that invariably when their comment posts, it is at least seventh and they look really stupid. Can y’all quit mentioning what number commenter you think you are? Kthxbai.

  • Puppies are cute and fast so that you won’t kill them. That is the only reason they stay alive to become nice dogs.

  • As a brand new owner of a 3 month kitten, I so feel you!!

    So your saying ‘better living through chemistry’ might help me here, huh? Maybe I just need to get some prozac for the kitty.

  • enjolie

    hahahaha Wow. hmm we were thinking of adopting a puppy next year but perhaps we should adopt a house broken 1 year old instead? i don’t think i’d be able to handle law school AND a house full of poop

    btw i read your san francisco post while i was in torts class and realized we were both in the city AT THE SAME TIME for a few hours! i then proceeded to get all giddy like a teenie bopper at an nsync concert.

    web celebrity > hollywood celebrity

  • Jessica

    I love dogs and all, but that’s why I have cats. 🙂 Although, hairballs are not fun. Hope all is well and clean-smelling now.

  • Hi Heather,
    Thanks for your awesome website. You just have a way with words! Even after reading your post, and knowing how distressing poop can be, I still want a dog.

  • Jodie

    Ah, the wonderful moments of puppy-hood. Oops it was really Chuck! I love your wonderful humor! Thanks Heather.

    Here’s the end-of-life scenario going on at my house… My ancient 18 yr old blind Jack Russell terrier can’t go outside without being carried out (and doesn’t like it if it’s cold or wet or whatever), so I’ve just given in. He has the master bathroom with the tile floor for his bedroom & bathroom. I just do the pee & poop patrol in the morning and evening… he even pees on his towels that I use for his bed. Poor little fellow is just not in control of his own functions any more. But he’s not sick or in pain, so I will just keep on cleaning up the bathroom and tolerate having a bathroom that smells most of the time except when I give it a full mop up treatment with pinesol or bleach. Oh and I get to do a load of “pee” towels each weekend in hot water with bleach.

  • Just wanted to thank you for making me laugh in my boring-stay-at-home-mother days! You are an inspiration…love you, love you…oooohhhh, sorry for the sappiness!

  • We once raised a newborn whitetail fawn who could only pee and poop if we rubbed its butt with paper towel.

    Thank God Coco can shit on her own.

  • Sara

    That was seriously funny.

  • Oh, I so feel your pain. My five month-old Sophie is just one step ahead for your Coco, so I know, I know.

    The good news is it was incredibly easy to housebreak Sophie (our breeder recommended a book called “How to Housebreak your Dog in 7 Days” – we did and she was). What is nightmarish now is teaching her how to walk nicely on a leash and, no, don’t jump on that little girl and, no, don’t run into the curb and, no, don’t get between my feet and, no, don’t eat that whatever it is, and … well, you get the picture.

    At least we don’t have to teach her to chase us and lick up our noses and fall asleep on our laps and wag her tail whenever one of us is near.

    There are compensations.


  • >^..^<

    I have bronchitis and am wheezing like a hyena, laughing my ass off! That story is so freakin’ funny! And only you could tell it like that 🙂

  • Sarah

    Teaching Coco to touch the door when she wants out was great. We did that too with our Jack Russell Terrier. Except we made the mistake of hanging a bell from the doorknob to touch so we could hear it from other rooms. Of course, once he realized we’d come whenever he rang it, he rang it all the time. Particularly during dinner. He taught us to come. They are little tyrants borne from the devil.

  • Hilarious and exhausting. I just imagined scrubbing all those spots on my hands and knees. I need to go lie down and rest now.

  • Oh Heather, I love your website. You actually inspired me to create my own, so I thank you for that.

    Anyway, I share your puppy Valentine’s Day woes, as I had a similar situation. Our new dog woke me up soaked in his own diarrhea that he then violently shook ALL OVER MY KITCHEN as if to say ‘human, this is what you get for sleeping and not paying attention to me ALL NIGHT LONG.

  • Christine S

    LOL, way too funny!!

    When we got my Pomeranian, we had a Toy Poodle that was about 13 years old. We took them outside together but it took the Pom 7 months to be housebroken!! We never understood why since he caught onto everything else right away.

  • Sarah

    Forgot the key to the JRT devil issue – a dog door. Now we don’t fall for that bell ringing ruse anymore. Though sometimes he proudly presents us with dead birds he’s brought in that have flown into the big glass window. That’s not so fun – particularly when he brings them in while we’re not there, only to return to a house with feathers and bird in almost every room, thereby confirming that yes, in fact, he does get on furniture he’s not supposed to. Dog door’s still worth it though!

  • Jennifer K

    MUST. BUY. STOCK. SPOT SHOT. Fantastic on the carpet. What else to do other than sniff the paw? That was the only way to go.

  • Oh yeah. That’s why I have a cat. A cat who only poops on the floor once or twice a week. And pees outside the litterbox every other day.

    Between my cat and my two kids who can’t yet wipe themselves with any degree of accuracy, my world is shit.

  • I think you mentioned you were crate training? Or did I imagine that?

    We crate trained our dog. It took two months of him constantly being carted around in that thing. In an attempt to drive the point home, we carried him outside crate and all first thing every morning and he only rode in the car crated up. My BF takes him to work every day, so he took him out every hour on the hour. Then he moved it up to two, then three, etc. We didn’t train him to ask to go out, but we started paying close attention and he devised his own way of letting us know.

  • another heather

    Nothin like poop and v-day.

  • Tara

    I think Chuck was trying to get you back for the peanut butter photo op.

  • Sorry things have been so shitty…

  • Elizabeth

    Just think: Coco or Chuck could have left you a little Valentine like the one featured on Cute Overload:

    Thanks for a great story. Poop is always comedy gold, even if not right in the moment of scrubbing it out of the carpet.

    P.S. My dog used to get in our bathroom trash, eat feminine products, and then poop them out in the yard. Nothing like finding a tampon or piece of soiled pad when picking up poop!

  • I had a lot of anxiety while reading that. A lot. I need to lay on the couch with a martini now.

  • geminijen_2000

    HA! Like everyone else, I share your pain! I have Australian Cattle dogs, also a brilliant breed. But my male dog and I could not understand each other’s language when he first came to our house. I think he was potty trained, and he was about 8 months old, but it took me 3 weeks of my carpet being soaked with pee to figure out that he would start doing laps around the living room when he needed to go. Of course, sometimes he did this when he didn’t have to go.

    I was just about at the point where I’d kill him if he ever peed in the house again, so I was watching him like a hawk. One day, I notice him pacing and doing laps, and I ask him, “You gotta go potty?”

    He walked over and peed on my foot.

    We both got our answer, and he’s never peed in the house again. (yes, he’s very much alive and well. No doggies were hurt in the making of this story.)

  • kidsmom

    Here’s an even better joke:

    “Knock Knock.

    Who’s there?

    Symphysis Pubis!”

    Get it? Symphysis Pubis?

    Kills ’em every time.

  • Why is it you only open comments on doggy poop stories??? What did you use to clean it off the carpet???
    When are you going to make Leta clean it up?

  • deanna

    Totally off topic – sort of.

    What kind of flooring is in the house? Does anyone know?

    When I saw that comments were open I thought “oh, here’s my chance to ask about the flooring!”

    …not the carpet obviously. Travertine? Marble? I can’t tell but I’m loving it.

  • Peggy

    Lordy me….
    For me it is hearing that sound cats make when they are going to throw up, at 4am, in your shoe!
    That happened to me this morning.

  • lintys

    oh i’m so sorry! this reminds of me of an ‘incident’ over 20 years ago involving my 3-year old daughter and her little friend who had a poopy diaper. my daughter decided to change her little friend’s diaper. by the time I caught them, it looked like a diaper explosion in the bathroom, down the hallway (carpet and walls,) and down the stairs (carpet and walls too.) I still remember the nausea and the stink. And there was no one else there but me to clean it up. And I had to clean up the mess and the little girls, and watch the little girls while I cleaned up the mess. I feel your pain Heather!

  • Lacy

    Oh my God…thank you for reminding me of why I won’t let my kids get a dog. Cleaning up their poopy paws is quite enough for me. Ugh, I grew up with dogs and I can still remember the smell of dog poop….GAG!!!

  • And this is why I am a cat person, although the hairball thing blows sometimes.

  • Saro

    My sincerest sympathies. Your experience brings back horrific memories of my own. After a move to a new house, our two dogs had what seemed to be an all day attack of stress induced diarrhea from being left alone in the new house while we were at work, because we had not yet finished their outdoor living quarters. Something these two pups normally could handle if necessary, but we grossly underestimated the stress of the move. The worst part? It was all over the house and we had brick floors (newly refinished of course) that had deepish crevices between the bricks. Gross does not describe having to clean dog diarrhea out crevices in your brick floor with toothpicks and q-tips. The whole event reduced me to near hysterical tears.

    By the way, reading dooce is bright spot in my day. Thank you!

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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