An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Why our next dog will be a sea monkey

About two weeks ago I took both dogs to the vet in preparation for their upcoming trip to the kennel. Chuck needed to get updates on a few vaccinations, and Coco just needed a general check-up, although I did hope that they would maybe listen to her heartbeat or take her temperature and ask, “Has she been rather awful lately? Because there is a medical reason for that.” And then give her a pill that would make her stop being such a frequent dickwad.

In the days leading up to that vet visit I had noticed Coco scratching her right ear violently and often walking around with her head tilted in that direction. I didn’t know if she had water in her ear or if she had damaged it in any way, so I knew I would bring that up with the vet. I just had to get Coco into the building first. Not so easy when in the parking lot she suddenly remembered that this was the building where she had had her ovaries removed. And I can totally understand her reaction, it would be weird to wake up from a sedative I had not willingly taken only to find out that someone had hacked into my reproductive organs. And here you are bringing me back to the building where that happened? Do not be surprised then when I start growling, barking, and then pissing my pants from the anxiety. In fact, be glad I don’t start talking shit about your mom.

To make matters worse, Chuck loves the vet. In fact, the vet is perhaps Chuck’s favorite place in the world if you don’t count the butthole of every dog he’s ever met. He knows when we’re blocks away from that building and will start howling with anticipation once he realizes where we’re going. So there I am in the parking lot, one dog yanking the leash away from the building, the other dog jumping three feet at a time into the air because he can’t wait to get in, me in the middle purposefully not making eye contact with anyone because then maybe they won’t notice that I exist or that there is a circus going on around me. Only thing missing that would have made it a more perfect moment was that small but vocal segment of the Internet standing two inches from my face with their arms folded across their chests chanting YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!

I finally get them both into the lobby where a handful of other dogs are standing patiently beside their owners, at least until Coco’s uneasy energy sets off a round of hysterical barking. And then Chuck, Our Walking Teddy Bear, He Who Only Barks When Thoroughly Provoked And Even Then Only If He’s On His Period, sees a fur ball of a puppy across the room, one who is maybe four months old if even that advanced in age, and he goes berserk, starts growling from the bottom of his lungs so that it sounds like some sort of demonic goblin. And if at all possible Coco’s barking gets even more high-pitched as if to say SEE? SEE? THIS PLACE IS APPALLING. Yes, appalling. Because THERE ARE PUPPIES HERE. Is your situation not ghastly enough? Want to make it really horrific? THROW IN SOME ADORABLE PUPPIES.

This goes on for what seems like, wait, it’s STILL going on, and not two minutes after I get them settled down I start to relax a little bit only to have a little person walk through the door, a perfectly polite little person who says a friendly hello to everyone in the room. And just then Coco lunges and starts growling at her as if she had just walked into Coco’s pasture and stolen one of her sheep. Which I am supposing is the worst thing that could happen to a sheep dog: steal one of the things that they are trying to keep track of and watch their head explode. Want to see Coco go nuts? Invite three friends over and send one of them to the bathroom. That trick never gets old.

I immediately text message Jon: “Our dogs are awful. Also, Coco is a bigot.”

When we finally get back to an examination room I ask the doctor if they can take a look inside Coco’s right ear. She says no problem, and within mere minutes of taking the dogs back to address their respective concerns she returns to tell me that they have found a foxtail inside her ear. A large one. Larger than they have ever pulled out of a dog’s ear. And because she is so anxious they’re going to have to sedate her a bit in order to get it out. I imagine that if Coco were capable of a single coherent thought she’d be panicking that this time they were going in for the kidneys. So that they could sell them on Craigslist.

I wait for over 45 minutes and begin to wonder if maybe that foxtail is as big as a grain silo. The doctor finally returns with both dogs, Chuck high from all the attention, Coco a mad, pacing mess of nerves. She shows me the gigantic foxtail they removed and talks me through the procedure, and the whole time Coco circles the room crying. That crying goes on for another five hours, from the moment we leave the examination room, through the lobby of the building, out into the parking lot, along the entire ride home, and then as she tries to find a comfortable spot on the sofa? No. The bed? No. The floor? No. How about the sofa again? No. Oh FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, DOG. PICK A SPOT AND STICK WITH IT. You can cry all you want, I will even hold your head while you do it, I just cannot take the pacing, pacing, pacing. Suddenly I’m seeing why people adopt turtles.

She finally calms down when she falls asleep for the night, and the following morning she’s as chipper as ever, jumping straight from the floor and landing directly on Jon’s crotch to say good morning. We’re exhausted from the emotional crying jag and everything else we’ve had to get done before our week long trip away from home, and so we both absentmindedly fall asleep thinking that the other one is keeping track of Coco. THAT NEVER ENDS WELL. Pretty much if I ever begin a sentence with, “But I thought Jon was watching her,” you can assume that the story ends with all of us dying.

This time it was worse. She crapped all over the kitchen floor.

And not just a little crap. A WHOLE LOAD OF CRAP. BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF CRAP. A PACIFIC OCEAN OF CRAP. From the point of origin (the middle of the kitchen dog bed), all the way along the floor, up onto two stainless steel planters and the dishwasher, all over five cabinet doors, and ending in her food bowl. IN HER FOOD BOWL. OF COURSE IN HER FOOD BOWL. That’s probably where she was headed all along and is now pissed that she wasted so much of it on the dirty kitchen floor. Can’t eat that shit now CAUSE IT’S BEEN ON THE FLOOR.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this story other than to say that Jon repeatedly asked me that morning what I thought Coco had eaten to make her sick like that, and I kept giving him this really evil look like ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? She didn’t get sick from eating something, she got sick because for several hours the day before she thought she was going to die. Do you know what that kind of stress does to your system? You and I can knock back a bourbon, but Coco? COCO DOESN’T HAVE BOURBON. SPRAYING SHIT SEEMS LIKE A REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE.

  • I’m so sorry! Poor Coco.
    We’ve had our share if awful visits to the vet. I feel your pain.

  • The Niffer

    I gotta meet this Coco.

  • jt


    1) I can’t believe how many of your readers don’t know what a foxtail is. Where did these people grow up?
    2) I can’t believe how many of your readers who don’t know what a foxtail is, didn’t just type “foxtail” into google.
    3) You missed a great opportunity to use the phrase “tsunami of shit”. But, I think it’s not the last opportunity you’ll have.

    Welcome back.

  • I’d love to say “I’m sorry you had to go through that”. But I’m not sorry. Because I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it. (Yes, I am a sadistic bitch, why do you ask?)

  • Lisa

    I have no words

    Well that’s not true.

    I am glad that you have CoCo and I do not. My gag reflex at this point would have put me 6 feet under.

  • ok, so is it possible that your Coco and my black lab puppy, Boo, are actually twins separated at birth? There’s nothing quite as wrong as waking up from a sound sleep to the smell of poo…

    thanks for sharing the pain.

  • Tonya

    Heather, you make me laugh. After a hard day of taking care of two small children, I can usually count on you for a laugh. Thank you so much.

    And I, too, once cleaned us a holocaust of doggy shit. One Christmas Eve, my husband fell asleep on the couch (HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WATCHING THE PUPPY). The puppy broke into the cat’s room, ate all of the cat food and cat poops (YES!). Husband didn’t know that, put puppy in his crate and went to bed. I woke up Christmas morning (CHRISTMAS MORNING!) to a shit covered puppy and a dog crate that looked like that scene in Trainspotting. Merry Christmas!!

  • Oh my Heather, I feel your pain. I worked for a vet for years and saw those poor nervous animals and stressed out owners come in.

    Hope all is well now!

  • Jen

    My husband always tries to solve my problems before I’ve even told him what they are.

    So, to that story, I say, “Dude, that sucks. Need a hug?”

  • Can not stop laughing. And that would be … because I have been there and done that. Those foxtails are evil devil spawn and they always find the ears, or between their toes (do dogs have toes? maybe I meant pads!). And poor Coco … but she is not only suffering a case of nerves, but also punishing you for taking her to the vet. Fun times!! I think maybe you should get another dog??

  • This post makes me glad I have a parrot I take to the vet instead of dogs. Everyone expects a parrot to scream, squawk and behave horribly during the visit, but afterwards…my bird is humble and quiet for hours – about the only time out of the entire year. And we have newspapers on the bottom of his cage for those extra, unexpected poops!

  • Kirsten

    OMG! I am so sorry you had to ensure the experience that is Coco, but OMG am I glad that you do, because stories about bigoted dogs make me laugh. I especially like the circus analogy which includes teh INTERNET! I’m supposed to be working right now, and I have that image in my head. Thanks.

  • Beth

    “So there I am in the parking lot, one dog yanking the leash away from the building, the other dog jumping three feet at a time into the air because he can’t wait to get in”

    That’s how my kids act when we go to the pediatrician.

    Also, I hated the popular girls in high school. The pretty, funny, FUN ones. Why? I was jealous.

  • You might want to reconsider that whole “Coco not getting bourbon” thing.

  • Laura

    Ugh, this is all too familiar. I have had the worst experiences with puppies the past couple years. It makes me want to swear an oath I never want another pet as long as I live. My next dog will be a pet rock.

  • Lyla

    An Aussie with a grass awn in its ear? Yup, that sounds like a recipe for chaos. lol. A lot of dogs need sedation to remove foxtails from their ears,though. It’s definitely not just Coco. You certainly have my sympathy about the diarrhea all over the kitchen.

    In cases where you have a few days notice before going to the vet (like her next routine exam)you might try giving her an herbal supplement like Pro-Calm. It takes several days to build up and some dogs it doesn’t work for, but it’s worth a shot.

    You might also ask your vet about some Alprazolam (Xanax) to give prior to office visits. I know a few dogs (including my own) that it has helped.

  • Marie

    I laughed out loud all the way through this story! Heather, you are a master storyteller. Hysterical, but oh, I feel your pain. In fact, I shudder.

  • Oh no! That Coco sounds like a handful. A cute handful, but still.

    Maybe we don’t have foxtails down here in West Texas because I can’t imagine what they look like (I’ll google it later). But, didn’t Chuck have one in HIS ear too? I have just got to know what those things are that they get stuck in dogs ears like that.

  • Jesus Christ Heather, you’ve had one helluva week. I’ve read a lot in the last 24 hours about how you in particular “Do It Wrong” and I just don’t get it. I don’t understand how you are supposed to live up to the unique standard by which you’re being held, while all the other BlogHers profess to being flawed – and have those flaws celebrated.

    I hope that there continue to be enough of us who appreciate your work to justify you keeping it up.

    I’m sorry to hear about the recent loss of a loved one. Take care of yourselves. Above all, have a shit-cleaning-free rest of the week.


  • Lucy

    I think foxtails must be a regional thing because I’m in Chicago and I’ve never seen or heard of them. Sounds awful, though, and if we did have them here, my dog would be getting into them.

    Heather, I don’t want to be one of those a-holes giving you unwanted advice, but have you ever thought about a raw diet for Coco? I volunteer at an animal shelter and I’ve seen it do wonders for both cats and dogs with issues like this, even if it is a nervous issue and not strictly a digestive issue.

    Good luck- yikes!

  • i think pet stories are very funny, however prior to being a dog owner, which was only a year ago, I would not have been able to relate. Experiencing your coco as she matures has been fascinating and funny. Our dog came to us 2 yrs old and tramatized. The ghosts of which sometimes appear out of nowhere. We missed her growing up, and perhaps that was a good thing

  • I know it was awful – but you make it seem so funny.

    My daughter-in-law returned home to find their Bernese Mtn. dog (still puppy) had pooped all over her laundry room, walked through it a million times then tried to get out of the room by scratching the walls and door. She now has deep grooves with ground-in poop, which she has scrubbed & scrubbed with no success.

    Thank God for my cats!

  • carpot

    Wow, I’m exhausted just reading about…that.

  • My Yorkie once took a violent dislike to a boyfriend I had at the time. He was French. Yorkies don’t like the French, apparently.

    When we woke up in the morning I went into the living room and the dog had squeezed out a small turd on every pile of albums (it’s so hard to write that word and still manage to lie about my age) I had left scattered all over the place. He had to CLIMB on top of some of the piles and AIM correctly because not a one of them was near the edge of any album.

    When I screamed “merde!” the Frenchman just thought I was swearing.

  • Tammy

    I needed a good laugh more than oxygen today, and you delivered. Your animals’ antics make mine seem like a walk in the park. Thank you!

  • What a day! I’m so sorry.

    Aussies are something else. My roommate of four years had a massive Aussie (around 70 lbs I think?) in our tiny rental house, and he made for some interesting social situations.
    I never knew how strong the herding instinct is in those dogs. He was never happy until ALL OF US WERE IN ONE ROOM, my roommate’s cats and my dog (smaller than the cats) included. It was really odd. He’d run circles, nipping at heels, and when we were finally all centralized, he’d be able to rest.

    My dog Cosmo’s only natural instinct seems to be to perch himself up as high as possible on pillows. He’s a Shih Tzu, and I’ve heard they were the dogs of the Ming Dynasty. Guess we can’t escape our history.

  • Nhiro

    Your dog is the valedictorian of shitting. Condolences, man.

  • k

    You’ve bonded! How sweet.

  • Marie

    Bless your and her hearts, but I loved the Coco story! Glad she’s feeling better.

    Also, I loved the purple tights, AND I had a huge crush on Sylvester Stallone when I was around 10. I remember swooning over him on a magazine cover w/ my bff. So tell Jon that there’s at least ONE out here!

  • Sarah

    This made me laugh until I cried. Thank you for sharing.

  • you are flippin hysterical!!! your dogs should have their own reality show!

  • Risa

    …sounds like you woke up to absolute horror and just wanted to go back to sleep hoping it was just a bad bad dream. Hang in there.

  • OMG! I am sooo sorry. We’ve had dogs for years but never been through anything quite like that. Our new puppy is chewing EVERYTHING up in sight…but no spraying diarrhea… yet. Was very nice meeting you this weekend, btw.

  • Wow, I sort of hate your dog. Sorry about all that shit.

  • Blookum

    You make me laugh until I pee myself a little. Thank you for sharing your perspective with the world.

    As for the haters? Fuck ’em and let ’em eat beans.

  • Also, I live in Australia and I don’t think we have them here – what is a foxtail?

    And I have never heard of a dog that loves the vet! Chuck is so unique 🙂

  • One of my friends directed me to your blog shortly after I started mine and entered the world o’ blogging and I LOVE reading this and laughing. Although dog crap from a small dog is nothing compared to the time I dogsat for a 14 yr old, 85 lb black lab who got separation anxiety and had diarrhea ALL over the house, ruining 6 rugs, covering 2 floors (including up the stairs,)and topped off with me stepping in it first thing in the morning as I stumbled blindly to the bathroom. It took me over two hours to clean and I was late to work. He wasn’t even my damn dog. I was just proud to have not vomited while cleaning up that awful, awful mess.

  • Sara

    You can tell a story like no one I’ve ever read before…thanks for the laughs!

  • susan


    Even though I don’t have a dog, I can relate on so many levels with my cat episodes.

    You truly have a gift for the written word, and I love your sense of humor. Thanks for the good reads!

  • Yeah, dogs are great, aren’t they? I especially like it when, after some explosive diarrhea, they come and sit on your lap and don’t forget to tuck. That’s always cute. Probably not as cute as when they’re going through some heavy-duty coprophagous phase that you weren’t totally aware of and then come up and give you a big “sloppy” kiss (this is even worse when the “copra” that they “phage” is not their own, not some dog’s, but someONE’s that they found in the parks you walk them in outside the footy stadiums the day after some big sporting event).

    I’d never be without my dogs, but…well, I hear Giant Burrowing Cockroaches make pretty easy pets.

  • Anonymous

    The purple tights are awesome, although I reserve the right to be mildly annoyed with you because you have those long slender legs that can wear purple tights and look simply fucking amazing, and I have short dumpy legs that, in purple tights, would make people run away screaming in horror. Oh the humanity.

    To those who don’t believe that cats shit-punish, get real. I could fill your ears nearly as full as the garbage can was full of cat turds with stories of how my vengeful little bastards indicated their displeasure with my having gone out of town and left them under the watchful eye of a friend (who spoiled them rotten, by the way). I’m such a heartless bitch, going out of town to make money to buy them Iams and large quantities of fine Mexican catnip. Ungrateful little shits. But I love them anyway.

  • One day I’ll own a dog, who will do something irritating, and I’ll think, “I’m so lucky. Dooce has the hard dog who shat all over the floor.” And then I’ll grab some whiskey.

  • Ewwwww poo is nasty.

    Now I understand why my parents constantly refuse to let me have a pet.

  • COME. ONNNN. ! HOW do you DO this? I mean, I’m an animal lover and I believe, too, that when you adopt a pet that it’s a lifelong decision. You don’t just drop ’em off at the Humane Society because they eat a few shoes. BUT.

    I THOUGHT I knew what a foxtail was. I mean, I knew it was a plant. So I googled “foxtail plant” and found this: And it was a scary read! Coco got off lucky, it sounds like.

    I think Jon’s comment may have been about the QUANTITY of poop. Stress doesn’t create poop. Food does. So, what did she eat? Another dog?

    I’m really sorry. No one should have to go through that. I don’t now how you didn’t throw up everywhere and I wonder, how do you feel like the place is disinfected enough after that?

    Also, the tights were great! Not the first time anyone has worn coloured tights. I guess JULY is not a common time for them…. Ya. Why were you wearing tights in July?

  • Um, yeah. You two really must enjoy the time away from home, no? Even sitting all day in an airport would be preferable to a kitchen full of shit to me.

    I was spoiled, though. The chow my ex-wife an I had actually got into the tub on his own (we weren’t home) when he had the runs, so all I had to clean up was his trimmed butt hair. Let me tell you, he got treats for THAT.

  • I know you’re having a hard time and dogshit all over the place isn’t helping. You keep making reference to the internet criticizing you…remember that it is a very small minority, the rest of us love you! I miss the more personal stories, but I totally understand why you’re holding back. I’ll never have anything like the following that you have and I have to say I’m glad. It takes a special person to write, design, and photograph as well as you do, and an incredibly special person to share even a little bit of their personal life with so many potentially hostile strangers. Be proud!

  • On the bright side you should be happy you don’t spray shit when you get anxious or else blogher would have been real awkward.

  • Lauri

    My friend suggested I read this entry to help my perspective about dealing with my wild puppy this evening. I must say this story helped so much!

  • My two go Cocoberserk at the vets too.

    When I told my husband that taking them was a nightmare he replied with “What do you expect? They stick things up their butts there” Hmmm, he has a point.

  • Terri

    I was upset because the maid came today and when I returned from the gym one of our four dogs had peed a HUGE puddle (seriously, it was the size of a million extra large foxtails) on the tile floor.

    Guess that seems like a picnic in the park right now!

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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