the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The secret to our clean floors

Coco still sleeps in a crate next to our bed, and up until we caught on to the fact that she was manipulating us we would let her out in the morning at the sound of her first cry thinking that she desperately needed to go wee. But when we clumsily made it to the back door and suffered the cold morning air on our bare legs, she would casually step outside, wander along the perimeter of the patio, leisurely stretch her legs and then lie down. Like, oh, I’m sorry, were you in the middle of something? Because I just wanted to get a head start on being an asshole.

Now we just tell her to shut it when she starts crying, either by yelling those very words or by blurting out whatever noise comes out of our sleepy throats. Sometimes it’s TSHHH! or PIHHHH! or SO HELP ME GOD. And it works, she goes back to sleep until Leta marches in, and then it’s over, do not expect her to remain silent inside that crate, not when there is a child around to keep track of. You can’t do that to a herding dog, dangle a child in front of it and suggest that said child be ignored. Do you have any idea what could go wrong? Sure, there are wolves and flash floods and diphtheria to worry about, but worst case scenario is that this child decides to go to the bathroom AND NO ONE IS COUNTING. How will we ever know how many people are left in the room?

Once everyone is awake we all go upstairs to have breakfast together, and eventually Coco ends up underneath Leta’s chair. This is the place where treats rain from the sky, and the silence with which she assumes her position there suggests that she’s hoping no one else will catch on to her secret. Because if Chuck discovered the magical supply of Cheerios she’d have to share her bounty. What she doesn’t know is that Chuck is well aware of the frequent treat storms that emanate from Leta’s chair, he just knows that her diet is so limited that it’s not worth the wait to sit there for a stray refried bean. It’s not like FILET MIGNON is ever going to come flying off that counter.

Earlier this week both dogs were completely wiped out from having spent eight days at a kennel, so wiped out in fact that Coco didn’t even hear Leta stomp into our bedroom. She even slept through the commotion of me leading Leta upstairs to have breakfast. I left Jon to sleep in a few extra minutes and assumed he’d let Coco out of the crate when he woke up. Thirty minutes later Coco dashed up the stairs, totally frazzled, a thought bubble exploding out of her head that said OHMIGOD OHMIGOD OHMIGOD. Instead of running in to greet me like she normally would, she immediately slid seven feet from the doorway of the kitchen right into her spot underneath Leta’s chair. Only then did she look up to see if Leta was still there. And when Coco saw that she was, saw Leta eagerly spooning mouthfuls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of her bowl, I swear to God that dog sighed, like I CAN’T BELIEVE I ALMOST SLEPT THROUGH THE BEST PART OF THE DAY.

I kneeled down, scratched her underneath her chin, pointed to my belly and said DUDE, HAVE I GOT A PRESENT FOR YOU.

  • Lola

    2009/03/04 at 3:59 pm

    You’re so great.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/03/04 at 4:01 pm

    One of these days, you and Jon are going to end up convincing me that I should cave in and get a dog … and when that dog is relieving itself on the floor, and tearing shit up, and getting hair everywhere, I will curse you.

  • jennifer

    2009/03/04 at 4:01 pm

    so damn cute

  • Nic

    2009/03/04 at 4:02 pm

    Oh to be a fly on the wall during breakfast…

  • Anonymous

    2009/03/04 at 4:03 pm

    Great post!

  • misha

    2009/03/04 at 4:03 pm

    i want another dog!

  • Dana

    2009/03/04 at 4:04 pm

    Oh Coco. I know this is strange, but everything you write about Coco makes me want another dog even more! Now where did I put those meds…

  • J. Bo

    2009/03/04 at 4:04 pm

    My friend, the veterinarian, refers to babies and small children as “vending machines for dogs.”

  • Ariel

    2009/03/04 at 4:06 pm

    I want a dog and another baby!

  • Amy G.

    2009/03/04 at 4:08 pm

    I swear, there are days when I think the food clean-up is the ONLY thing our dog – a 7-1/2 year old female yellow Lab – is good for. She drools and sheds like a maniac, doesn’t obey to save her life, and she’s a shameless attention hog, but by God if a speck of food hits the floor, she’s ON it in a nanosecond.

    I always felt guilty taking our now 6-year-old son to restaurants when he was younger because he made SUCH a mess and there was no dog there to clean it up, like there has always been at home. You really take that for granted!

  • the mighty jimbo

    2009/03/04 at 4:08 pm

    see, in our house, the dogs are the CAUSE of all the dirty floors. having two dogs with jowls, one one-hundred pound floppy mouthed beasty in particular who can’t seem to keep either saliva or kibble within those cheeks, means we are always wiping up something nasty.

    what i’m more curious about is how with two shed prone creatures, do you keep that hardwood so damn spotless.

    i swear i’d never stop vacuuming, but i love my dyson and i’m totally anal that way.

  • HamiHarri

    2009/03/04 at 4:15 pm


    We bring our doggies to my sister’s (who is dog-less) just so we don’t have to worry about dropping chips/crackers/whateves on her carpet…lol…LOVE DOGS!

  • Leslie Ruth

    2009/03/04 at 4:15 pm

    Oh my word, do I ever love a Coco story. Especially one that involves your narration of her thoughts.

    It’s a gift, I tell you.

  • Seren

    2009/03/04 at 4:17 pm

    It’s worse with cats; they sit and watch. Every. Single. Bite. They make you feel like you’re willfully starving them to death, just for the heck of it.

    Coco is going to have so much fun when the new baby arrives. Another human to keep track of!

  • Andra

    2009/03/04 at 4:18 pm

    Heather, I just got my very first dog of my entire life on February 8th, after having a lifelong dream of owning one while living in my “cats-only” childhood home.

    It was not a decision come to lightly, but since I was laid off in January and am not starting my new job until the end of March, my boyfriend and I figured that would be the perfect amount of time to get a little puppy so I could be around 24/7 to train and socialize it.

    I feel like I adopted an infant. Asmall, white, hairy, & mobile infant with a penchant for the crotch of your underwear and chasing my poor cat all over the place.

    She has opened my eyes to a fraction of the work it takes when you have a child. All I have to say is I AM SO GLAD I DIDN’T GET PREGNANT FIRST.

    And then she licks my face off and it’s so cute I don’t even care that she would rather poop next to the training pad on not on it.

  • Anu

    2009/03/04 at 4:20 pm

    LOL, just fell off my chair laughing!!! You are just incredible with your words…I actually saw Coco slide and land under Leta’s chair.

  • Jacquie

    2009/03/04 at 4:20 pm

    I have a terrible feeling that Coco will prefer offerings from the diaper pail to treats from the high chair

  • Sadie

    2009/03/04 at 4:20 pm

    I want a Coco sooooo badly.

  • Grace

    2009/03/04 at 4:20 pm

    God I love herding dogs. My family (very accidentally – we were told it was a lab mix) adopted a border collie/shepherd mix when I was growing up and she was the smartest dog I’ve ever encountered. We trained her to stay out of the dining room, and she did (no baby gates required). We trained her to walk off-lead and follow non-verbal commands; no problem. Her level of intelligence was borderline creepy sometimes (you know, except for that whole poop-eating phase as a puppy when we almost gave her back).

    My husband and I are looking for a dog now, but we don’t have the space for any kind of herding breed, and I’m really concerned about how much more difficult it’s going to be to train a significantly less intelligent dog.

  • Annie

    2009/03/04 at 4:21 pm

    I love everything about that story.

  • Ginger

    2009/03/04 at 4:23 pm

    How sweet – the symbiotic relationship between beast and baby. Even with the food bonus, I don’t think my dog will ever truly get over being ousted as the primary creature of interest in my house.

  • Simone

    2009/03/04 at 4:26 pm

    Can I just say that I enjoy your family almost as much as my own? Probably I enjoy your dogs more than mine at the moment, but that’s because my two Chewbacca beasts (read: Irish Setters) haven’t heard a damn thing I’ve said since the second child starting eating solids. Mealtimes at ours often erupt in growling dogs jockeying for position under the table and high chair if I forget to lock the dogs out of the room. They were quite well-trained at one point, I swear!

  • Kate

    2009/03/04 at 4:28 pm

    You made my day. It needed making, so thanks. It’s almost as good as when I pound away at the laptop in the home office, only to find that my husband made the bed (which also needs making).

    Only not quite so surprising.

  • Aimee

    2009/03/04 at 4:29 pm

    Can I just tell you how much you and this blog make my whole frickin’ day?! Usually when you open comments, I notice about 1000 in and it seems pointless to add my 2¢. But today it looks like I might be somewhere near the top… So THANK YOU.

  • MereMortal

    2009/03/04 at 4:31 pm

    With the arrival of a second kid, it gets worse: my normally quietly begging dog now will get food right of the table and counters while we are busy trying to wrangle and feed and corral and diaper two youngins.

  • Jill

    2009/03/04 at 4:33 pm

    Oh yes, dog as food vacuum is SO very handy. And my freak will eat ANYTHING: carrot shavings, lettuce leaves, onion pieces (!), and if he’s lucky, the occasional piece of cheese. (Who am I kidding. Lots of cheese. It’s good stuff.)

  • d'Auria

    2009/03/04 at 4:34 pm

    she’s going to go apeshit 🙂

  • Lori

    2009/03/04 at 4:34 pm

    OMG you just described the a.m. crap we’re going through with our 8 month old Old English Sheepdog!!! I had no idea the herding breeds were so damn smart! Total manipulators! I feel your pain…

  • Tess French

    2009/03/04 at 4:35 pm

    I LOLd.
    Andomygod clovers are meant to be green. Greeeeeeeeen.

  • Anonymous

    2009/03/04 at 4:42 pm

    Tess – that’s driving me crazy too. but you know Heather knows it would drive some of us batshit and did it on purpose just so we could join her in the craaaazzzyyy. And we love her for it. And she knows that too.

    This post is made of WIN!

  • Stacy

    2009/03/04 at 4:42 pm


  • lindsay

    2009/03/04 at 4:48 pm

    I patiently wait for your entries. It really makes my day. Your dogs are HILARIOUS! My dogs are almost as funny as yours.

  • Anne

    2009/03/04 at 4:49 pm

    haha Coco’s antics always bring a smile to my face (though I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the same if I had a crack!dog). Shall definitely be interesting seeing how the dogs adjust to having the baby around. 🙂

  • LoneWolf

    2009/03/04 at 4:50 pm

    This is the cutest story. My cat does something similar. If I leave to take the trash out and come in, it’s as if I’ve been gone for DAYS and I have to pet him even though I was only gone for 1 minute and 35 seconds.

  • Amazing Greis

    2009/03/04 at 4:50 pm

    That’s great! Have I ever told you that I have a MINI Chuck? Mine is a miniature pinscher, but I swear when looking at some of Chucks pictures he could totally be twins with my Astro. 🙂

  • Bella

    2009/03/04 at 4:53 pm

    I love the dog *sigh*. When I ask my black lab how her day was while I was at work, she almost always responds with a hefty sigh and turns her back to me. I think she’d prefer a stay at home mommy. TOUGH NUGGETS!

  • Sara

    2009/03/04 at 4:56 pm

    I so enjoy the stories about your dogs. It lets me remember things mine do now and what I have to look forward to with children!

  • Cautionary Girl

    2009/03/04 at 4:58 pm

    When I saw the title of this post, I totally thought you were going to tell us how you get your floors so clean. Because, and I’m not kidding here, I am amazed by your clean floors daily. The sight of those immaculate Flor tiles is a wonder to me, and I have only one dog. And no kids.

  • Heather

    2009/03/04 at 4:59 pm

    I swear when we got the high chair back out our dog practically fainted with glee…like “OMG SNACK-O-RAMA IS BACK!!!!”

  • Serial

    2009/03/04 at 5:01 pm

    If only my dog would start eating dustbunnies. She eats everything else that looks completely unappetizing.

    (Including the cat crap out of the litter box. Gross, yes, but at least it means less scooping, I guess?)

  • Jess

    2009/03/04 at 5:01 pm

    Your account of the early morning whining of a dog is so spot on with EVERY morning in my house. I try to be tough, but am always pulled out of bed at the very thought that maybe he really DOES need to pee or poop or puke and I certainly don’t want that on my rug. Inevitably he walks outside and stands. Just taking in a nice breath of early morning air completely unaware that I am half naked, cold and pissed off.

  • momomatic

    2009/03/04 at 5:01 pm

    Dude, you funny. This is exactly why I don’t want another dog. Or another kid.

  • Mari

    2009/03/04 at 5:02 pm

    Shouldn’t the new sib be Chuck’s snack baby? It’s only fair.

    Our little dog died in June, and I’ve had dirty floors ever since, in her honor.

  • Lynn

    2009/03/04 at 5:04 pm

    If only you could trick Coco like I used to trick my siblings–and that was by setting the alarm clock on Saturday morning so they thought they needed to get up for school or even better setting it for 2 am so they’d get up and shower, get ready for school, then realize that they had FIVE WHOLE HOURS for sleeping. Can’t you see Coco sitting expectantly under Leta’s chair wondering where the hell the manna from heaven went for hours?

    I have a cat who we call Percival the Never-full, because he constantly sits next to his food bowl, no matter the time of day or night, in the hopes that a delicious morsel such as chicken innards will land there. Because that one time, ten years ago, I gave him a piece of liver. What can I say? I have hopeful creatures.

  • Amber

    2009/03/04 at 5:09 pm

    And I thought having three VERY doglike cats was a circus! I can’t wait to live somewhere with a yard so we can get a dog. Herding dogs sound totally crazy and totally amazing–and great with kids. True?

  • tracy

    2009/03/04 at 5:10 pm

    And here I thought I was actually going to get the answer to how the hell you keep your floors free of dog hair when I’m fighting the urge to swiffer and/or vacuum

    Since my baby starting on solids & finger foods, my dog has taken up permanent residence directly next to her. And it’s really hard to yell at the dog to not eat Ellis’ treats when Ellis is continually feeding her treats to the dog. I yell NO! and both the dog & the baby stop in the tracks…until it’s time for the next treat.

    Love the story!

  • natalie

    2009/03/04 at 5:11 pm

    aww, cattle dogs are all the same. have a dalmation/cattle dog mix and your stories of coco just about kill me everytime – spot on with my little turd elliott!

  • Emily

    2009/03/04 at 5:12 pm

    This post is exactly why I love your blog.

  • Amy

    2009/03/04 at 5:13 pm

    We just got a dog two weeks ago and I already don’t know what we’d do without him. I made chicken noodle soup last week when we were sick and of course splashed a cup or so of broth all over. Dexter licked up every single drop and gave the cabinets a once-over for me, too. Gross, but damn cute, too!

  • Suzy

    2009/03/04 at 5:17 pm

    Dooce, you were a dog in a former life, I just know it.

    And to Grace, who doesn’t have enough room for another herding dog, but doesn’t want a dumb dog, may I suggest a standard poodle. They need some room, but not acres. No shedding, no sneezing. But creepy smart. Instead of waiting for the Sugar Smacks (or whatever) to hit the floor, they will figure out where you keep them, how to open the cupboard, the box, and the ‘fridge for milk. AND how to blame the whole episode on the cat or the toddler.

1 2 3 5

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.

read more