Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

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.

  • I’m dying right now. I thought I was the only human living in doggy poopy hell. We have TWO PUPPIES. We wanted one but the brother was returned by another owner (I now know why) and so we end up with FOUR DOGS. Two old dogs, one who walks around pooping without even knowing it. (Something about his anus glands not working – I just threw up a little in my mouth) No squatting. No sniffing. Just walking with poop falling out his butt. In the night? Walking to the bathroom? I’ve stepped in it. I’m horrified I even typed that sentence. Now, the new “trick” is someone – some dog – is pooping behind the dining room table. In the dining room. Where we only go for holidays. How do they know that!?!? I used to be all, “There’s poop in the house! There’s poop in the house – grab the sponges, the carpet cleaners, the sprays…quickly, run, run everyone, poop, poop!” Now, it’s more like, “uh someone please pick up the new pile of poop in the dining room”

    It wouldn’t be bad except we just bought a beautiful, brand new home. BRAND NEW. Beautiful. Perfect. No scratches, no mars and most of all, NO POOP. Now, four weeks later. I feel I’m living in a poopy house of hell.

    If my doggie had pooped on the tile floor in the kitchen I’d be thrilled. I’d be thrilled if they pooped anywhere but the carpet. Seriously. Oh, and don’t get me started on the pee. I’m now happy to see poop as long as there is no pee. How sick is that?? I feel your pain. I truly, truly do.

  • In the past 10 days, my Border Collie puppy has eaten: a pair of my sweatpants (they were really sexy too darnit), a pair of my socks (it’s ok, because they were pink), a kitchen towel, my end-table leg, my favorite gloves (that one ticked me off royally), a pair of my boots, and the bean bag chair. This morning, she got in a wrestling match with a skunk and came happily running inside so later she could stare at me with that “Why don’t you love me anymore?” look while I endured the gag reflux every time the wind blew from her direction. She’ll be a year old on the 27th of this month – sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping it would end soon.

  • maggie

    Funny poop story.

    Just my opinion but perhaps you and Jon spend TOO MUCH time togeather and that is why you get on each others nerves? I know if I spent practically every day all day with my husband we would kill each other…now add a toddler and two dogs. Yikes!

  • I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth on your behalf. I have a terribly strong gag reflex also. Dang dogs…..just a note though, my cat is just as bad. Makes me wonder why we bother sometimes.

    Thanks for the laugh! You’re a funny gal.

  • Jeannette

    All I want to know is when the heck does it end? I have a 3 1/2 month old lab/german shepherd mix and the constant peeing and pooping is driving us insane. I want to strangle the damn dog about 35 times every single night. Please. Help me. Tell me. For the love of God. When is it over?

  • And you thought getting a dog would just give you more writing material. Also, beef broth better for dog than chicken broth.

  • I just love your blogs, what can I say 🙂
    Greetings from Denmark
    Jac Nordquist

  • QuietOne

    Makes you wonder if dogs shouldn’t instead be living outside in a big country yard where they can run by themselves, instead of inside people’s houses where they poop and pee. My friend’s dog likes to poop in her townhome. Gimme a fish for a pet anyday. Now that’s a much better city pet!!

  • donna

    We got a new puppy on 1-10, and also have been suffering through the glorious potty-training period … and wondering when the hell is this dog going to get it??? It’s comforting that we are not alone in this mess we got ourselves into.

  • Manda

    I got a puppy as a graduation present. A chocolate lab, a breed that is supposed to be very smart. Her name is Charlie, but in the first five minutes of owning her we gave her the nickname Stoopid. It took her about a solid year to get house broken. It was an awful task. I wanted to scream and cry. Not to mention all she did was eat sticks and rocks and never let me squeeze her like I wanted. Charlie is now 3. She is housebroken, calmer, sweet, loving and still Stoopid. It will take a lot of time, but it will happen!

  • amber

    Poopy paw prints. Icky illiteration.

    I have a friend who was constantly having sinus problems. Except nothing would ever help until a specialist finally started treating her for migraines. I think she takes a low dose of a blood pressure medication now, and it’s cleared up that stuffy, headachy feeling.

  • Dude, I was so hoping that the poop was somehow magically chocolate!

  • poundgrayly

    To echo two previous posters, crate training is wonderful. I don’t remember if you said you were doing that with Coco or not. Worked wonders with our Golden.

    To all of you who wondered “why have dogs”, we lost our Golden to cancer in July after twelve wonderful years. The incidents that are the stuff of blog posts now won’t matter when you can’t hold her anymore.

  • shelly trapped in iowa

    I am laughing so hard and desperately trying to hold back making my own fresh puddle of urine to step in as my husband, who is studying for board exams because he is one of those doctor nerds, tries to figure out what the hell is so funny.

    Great post! Made my day.

  • heighlo

    I haven’t read through all the comments so i am hoping that all before haven’t made the same comment so I annoy.

    My dog – now 10 yrs. old and who is presently snoring loudly in the background like a fat old man – had a bad series of urinary tract infections as a pup which caused her to pee in the house right after I had taken her out to go. And after she had been pretty well trained so I was like WHAT? It took me a while to figure it out. I nearly killed her and myself during that time. Urinary infections are really common in girl puppies. It was a frustrating beginning of our lives but an easy solution. I let her live. Now when I am really lucky, she spoons with me.

    As to the poop story – that made me laugh though what a nightmare for you all. My pup used to roll in goose poop when we were at my parents house. Hell to clean.

  • 34. Roberto Boone — Not all dogs know how to shit cleanly.

    Our Jack Russell x Maltese constantly gets shit all over the fur surrounding his arse. It’s horrible. We cut the fur back regularly to keep it short, but he still manages to get shit all over it.

    Once, I went away for the weekend, slept Sunday night, worked Monday and came home to find the poor bastard trying to shit, but not able to. His arsehole was sealed with (mostly-)dry poop.

    I do not enjoy having to wrestle my dog into the laundry sink so I can scrub/cut poo from his bum-fur. (He doesn’t appreciate it, either.) Many times I have yelled at him, “Either learn to shit properly, or wipe your arse!”

  • I’m feeling a little better now. last yer we got a a Scottish terrier puppy to keep our nine year old Scottie company. I lasted exactly four months before I went crazy and Moose went to live with a nice lady who had more patience than I. I think she also had poop colored carpet.

  • Dude. I totally left my ex because the dog wouldn’t get trained. You can only live in a toilet for so long. I’m glad you’re a better woman then me.

  • Nikki

    I rarely laugh out loud while I am reading. But this. This had me roaring. The “it-wasn’t-me-jumping-Leta” is what did me in. OMG! Hilarious.

    On a more serious note… i hope the nerd can fix Jon.

  • I love you.

    That is all.

  • Anonymous

    Man, I read all these posts and MY GOD do the internets kiss your ass heather. Does your husband get jealous? I know I am…Are you drunk with power?

  • Lisa

    Yeah, try this one…. my 12 year old dog who decided a couple weeks ago he wants to try being diabetic now, woke me up last night because as he was sleeping on the cool tile floor in the master bath he had an accident and peed everywhere. The gross part is the thing that woke me up was the sound of his big lab tongue LICKING IT ALL UP.

  • peg

    just wanted to let you know what a wonderful writer you are. i’ve been looking around at a lot of blogs lately with the intention of starting one of my own. it’s hard to do what you do. you are funny, smart, cynical, occasionally selfish and irritating, and quite talented. thank you for sharing your life with so many people. you continue to surprise me and take my breath away.

  • OMG I *love* the spenoid bone… I study physical anthropolgy, though, so I think I’m supposed to. To me it always sounded like a word that Wayne Campbell would use to describe a boner.

  • Anonymous

    this STORY was a total riot! HAH!

  • What hymn did they sing? “Because I have been given much” or “I heard him come”? Did they display a bed quilt and your wedding china?

  • Dennis

    I suggest, instead of “pawing at the door” getting a little bell and tying it to the end of a ribbon and hanging it from the door knob. we got our neurotic little pup to hit the bell w/ her nose when she had to “do her business” and she took to it pretty quick. You can hear the bell bell from upstairs, downstairs, wherever, to avoid accidents. Cesar Milan would be proud.

  • I’m laughing hysterically at another great dog story. I didn’t think you could top the backyard Coco chase in the snow, but you did! Surprise twist #1: Chuck was the culprit. Surprise twist #2 (besides the “#2” that prompted the whole post) Leta jumping on the sofa proclaiming her innocence. Oh my!

    And at this point I won’t say anything about my son’s little golden who apparently came house-broken at 5 weeks and my relaxed 3 days of puppysitting…

    BTW, loved Leta’s spashing video–so sweet and so dotingly parental. She’s a little bigger now, but still has those stunning eyes and darling pixie face.

  • kg

    OMG, I laughed so hard at your post that I was afraid I was going to wake up the baby. When you said you weren’t thinking clearly because you were dead, I lost it. Good stuff.

    Since misery loves company in these matters, I’ll just tell you that our home is not devoid of poopy pet problems – but we’re at the other end of the spectrum with an old, senile dog. Just something for you to look forward to.

    Also, must add that the vid of Leta in the sink is ADORABLE! I know exactly what you mean about the allure of a chubby baby. I’m in awe if my baby boy is just lying on his tummy staring at the cat under the coffee table.

  • Sinus Sufferer

    I feel Jon’s pain… Whenever the weather changes, my sinuses are affected by the pressure variations, and I get migraines. I’ve been using a sinus irrigating system called a neti pot, and it has worked miracles (SinuCleanse, or something like that, available at your local drugstore). Even if it doesn’t help Jon, at least it’ll be entertaining for YOU to watch! :o)

  • Noemi

    Dude, that sucks.

  • bonzai

    Oh my…this reminded me of when I had a 3 month old fox terrier, and I smelled the familiar odor in my room but could not for the life of me find the source! I finally got down and crawled around the floor until I stumbled upon my new, very expensive brown shearling slippers which had been used as a puppy potty. They hit the trash pronto and dear little smoothie was not allowed in my room for a good month.

    And he never did get much better – he was what one of my vets called a ‘finger painter’. Whenever left alone, he created fecal artwork for us. YUCK.

  • Aimless

    I’m so sorry that Chuck wandered around your house like me. Really. What a CRAPPY way to spend two hours. But your way of telling tales is priceless.

  • Is it possible to get your hubby to potty train my dog? It might alleviate some of my stress!

    We exchanged white carpet for hard wood floors. Yeah, it really doesn’t matter though. A poopy paw print is a poopy paw print.

  • All the dog books LIE OUT THEIR ASSES. In the dog book about Labs, they don’t tell you that your Lab puppy will eat your shingles off your house, eat drywall, lightbulbs as well as their own poop. When I called the vet in panic, he told me “Oh that’s just LABS”! I am so sorry for you and your house. I’ve given up on our hardwood floors as our pug won’t go outside to pee unless it’s 70, sunny with a slight breeze. Just move to a doublewide and get it over with.

  • Heathyr

    This story was good, but then you drew Leta into the picture- jumping up and down on the couch, basking in her moment of pride that she didn’t poop and I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. I can SO see her doing that.

  • Get a cat. They poop in boxes, cover it up, and still manage to track shit all over the place.

    Clean animals, my ass.

  • amy

    Get a crate for her. Keep her in crate for times you cannot be totally there for her. Immediately after letting her out of crate take her outside for bodily function reduction. Praise. (Oh and make sure where she relieves her bowels/bladders is somewhere you WANT her to go. Big mistake on my part for getting pup in winter. ‘Sure, hell it is OUTSIDE, do it right by our front steps! Yeah! That a girl!”)

    After pup pees/poops where you want her to praise and play. Then crate. Yeah, yeah cruel (or not) but pup learns some routines and you are not constantly worried where she is defecating.

    If only I had done this with my kids 😉 (Yeah, KIDDING! But not about the puppy training part! Having pup on leash or crate is the way to go from the start.)

    But who the hell am I telling this to? The woman who has a nose/head balancingjustabouteverything dog. 🙂

  • my friend has two dogs, one of which i make really nervous, (who knew i was so alpha that they actually listen to me rather than their owners) to the point that one day when i was holding him he peed on my boob. (awesome?)

    the dog is at least a year old now and i still step in pee spots on her carpet. fresh pee. usually barefoot or in my socks. i hate it too as her house is one of those where you have to take your shoes off at the front door. i want to ask her “why do you force me to endure this harassment?!?” shoes are the only barrier i have between my feet and her dog’s pee, and i like my feet to smell nice, or at least not of dog pee.

    kudos to John for maintaining your sanity when Coco would have it otherwise.

  • Brigette

    But have you ever had this happen to you? Have you ever tracked poop into someone’s house? Let’s just say that you’re, oh, 16 years old, and the people you are hanging out with are your boyfriend’s friends- people you desperately want to be accepted by. And the hostess of the party has OCD parents who are fanatical about their white carpet. Imagine this scenario. Then imagine said hostess running around like crazy trying to find out who tracked the POOP into her house, all the while freaking out about her parents seeing the massive amounts of poop on the carpet. Then let’s say that she tracks the poop, private eye style, to your 16 year old mortified foot. (You figured it out 10 minutes ago but certainly weren’t going to say anything. I mean, of all the places to step, why did you step in the poop?! why, god, whyyyy?! ) Imagine that. That’s how I felt 9 years ago. And that’s how Chuck felt when you tracked the poop to his smelly foot. But don’t worry. He’ll think it’s funny in 9 years. Just like I do. Because stepping in poop and tracking it all over someone’s house and then watching them freak out is incredibly funny in hindsight.

  • like your sense of humour,and just calm down,Australian Shepherds are smart, I own one,he even speaks German!

  • I am sure in no time at all she will be brewing the morning coffee for you, then it will all seem worth while!

  • ebushe

    About 4 weeks ago I woke at 4:30 am to let my recently ill dog out. He had gone through kidney stone surgery and was having a hard time holding his pee. Not his fault. Just a side effect of the surgery.
    Well, having changed his diet to try and help him control himself better, I made him really sick. And when I got up that morning I promptly found that he had diarrhea in a number of places – most notably in three spots in the living room. On the rug. Next to my live-in-mother-in-law’s “chair.”
    So I spent a couple hours sitting with him to make sure that he was feeling better (he was a MESS) and that he could go outside whenever he wanted.
    Then I attacked the messes. And as I cleaned, I found more and more to clean up. The poor guy tried to GET OUT. There were mulitple messes by all three doors to our house, three in the living room, and one somewhere else that seemed random but I am sure made sense to him.

    Anyway. It was one of the worst days ever. Mostly because I hadn’t thought to stay up with him that night. Oh, guilt. And then having to clean up that amount of diarrhea didn’t make it an easy day either.

    He is fine now. Thank god.

  • Great writing, love your style! Val

  • blondie

    Your stories and writing are the tops.

    Also loved the bell-ringing dog. “Ahem. I’d like a little service, please.”

    When we were trying to train our puppy, his name was temporarily changed to “Stink poop pee.”

  • Pink

    I didn’t read all of the comments; however, I wanted to tell you a trick that worked with my dog when house training.

    To avoid scratch marks on the doors and door frames from paws, go to Hobby Lobby or the like and buy a medium-sized jingle bell. Tie it to a ribbon or piece of leather to it. Then tie it to the door knob so that it reaches about nose level to the dog.

    It’s a Pavlovian trick. Each time the door opens, the bell rings. The dog will then learn to ring the bell when he or she wants to go outside.

  • yup the bells are your ticket. we have 3 dogs and 1 cat and they all ring them. funny thing is the cat was the easiest to train.
    I hear one of them right now – gotta go!

  • Anonymous
  • Yup, been there done that. Bossy thinks it’s not so much about House-breaking as it is about Mind-bending.

  • Zoe

    I have a little old lady dog (14+) and she needs to go out A LOT, and even then sometimes I think she gets confused about in and out. We’ll spend half an hour outside and then she poops as soon as we go back inside… Or, better yet – we’ve been carrying her up and down the stairs to the front door, and sometimes she poops in mid-air (yes, then there is a poop trail on the stairs). I carry her under my arm like a handbag but my husband hoists her up in both arms, and sometimes the mid-air poop winds up on his jeans. He gets so upset but I’m a terrible person because I think it’s hilarious!

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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