Heater, Mother of Lance

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.

  • Amanda

    2009/03/04 at 5:20 pm

    I feel like I’m constantly telling people why they should read your blog. I just read this entire post to my husband who in return laughed hysterically and just kept repeating “Because I just wanted to get a head start on being an asshole.”


  • Rachel A.

    2009/03/04 at 5:21 pm

    I know this will probably sound stupid, like totally beside the point, but you go UPSTAIRS to the kitchen? I don’t know anyone that goes upstairs to the kitchen. Odd.

  • Kimba

    2009/03/04 at 5:22 pm

    So glad to hear I’m not the only one who tells their Aussie to shut up. If my husband leaves the house, even for a minute, he cries like someone is beating him with a switch.

  • Brandy

    2009/03/04 at 5:29 pm

    Every time we go somewhere without a dog and drop something we stand there for a moment wonder what is wrong with the floor! THE FOOD JUST STAYS THERE!? Curious.

    Also are all your rooms in the basement? Why do you have to go upstairs to the kitchen? I’m so very confused.

  • Milla

    2009/03/04 at 5:31 pm

    dogs are the BEST garbage disposals ever. i never sweep my kitchen floors anymore.

  • Elizabeth_K

    2009/03/04 at 5:31 pm

    Great story … and yes, Coco will LOVE the new baby and her many many food spills. Especially if she eats more than Leta will!

  • Sarah

    2009/03/04 at 5:33 pm

    😀 TWO small humans for Coco to herd… she’s one lucky dog.

  • Jen

    2009/03/04 at 5:34 pm

    Love it! My Australian Shepard knows that I drop food while I cook so he is always hanging out at the edges of the kitchen (he knows I hate it when he’s under my feet in the kitchen) so he’s ready if I drop something good. We are expecting a baby in August and if he only knew the goodies he will get from the little one!

  • Auburn

    2009/03/04 at 5:34 pm

    Made of awesome.

    On a wholly unrelated note, Dooce, I’ve been reading “Julie & Julia” by Julie Powell (http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Julia-Year-Cooking-Dangerously/dp/0316013269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236213129&sr=1-1) and not only am I thorougly enjoying this blog-turned-book by government worker-turned-writer, it makes me think of you and your (much loved) writing style…down to me being SURE that the two of you have uttered/penned nearly identical phrases. Alot. Just putting it out there in case your nightstand is seeking a literary companion these days.

  • Kate

    2009/03/04 at 5:35 pm

    Our yellow lab is also our families personal garbage disposal. I am sure he is just waiting for our 8 month old son to get a little older and let rain down the great food that us adults are so selfish to actually eat and not throw on the floor.

    Our dog is exactly like Marley from Marley & Me. We get the distinct pleasure of living the movie. Take a look here:


  • Rosjuane

    2009/03/04 at 5:36 pm

    That is so funny!! I love reading your blog!! You are so like me in just saying what comes to you first.

  • Anonymous

    2009/03/04 at 5:37 pm

    My son has an Australian sheep dog who is extremely intelligent…..another herding dog. I am curious how you go “upstairs” for breakfast? Is your bedroom in the basement? Your kitchen on the 2nd level? I know that kitchens on the 2nd level is common in tropical locations for the view – but I wouldn’t consider Salt Lake City a tropical location!?

  • Becky

    2009/03/04 at 5:37 pm

    Ha! I can just see Coco sliding into position.

    Pretty much the same sitch at our house. Only eventually a slight smell of dog spit starts to emanate off the floor under the toddler’s high chair. Which causes me to go ahead and mop. If only the dog’s salivary glands produced Murphy’s Oil Soap.

  • Gettysburg Mom

    2009/03/04 at 5:53 pm

    The clean floors are why I love watching my parent’s dog while they travel. I’m watching her for six weeks now, and I may cry after she leaves and I spot that first stray crumb. As a special extra bonus, she enjoys eating any of their crappy plastic toys left on a floor and then I get to throw them out. Six weeks is such a short time.

  • Angelica Bustamante

    2009/03/04 at 6:11 pm

    Omg this post was awesome…as all the rest. I need to get a dog as soon as my little one start eating solids and starts to throw them around. I love it when dogs do stuff like that. LOVE your blog!

  • Kim

    2009/03/04 at 6:23 pm

    If my beagle somehow misses the beginning of dinner prep, he also does the slide in to my feet when I’m standing at the kitchen sink. And I’m messy when I’m cooking, so he always gets SOMETHING. Dogs!

  • Krystlyn

    2009/03/04 at 6:24 pm

    Too cute! I wish my 100 pounds of fur and feistiness would sit under our chairs! Instead he lays on the floor directly between us and the TV going back and forth between two looks…one as the bite goes in…”please please please toss that over here”…and as the empty fork comes out…”your an asshole and I know that is not the dry as cardboard kibble crap you took 10 seconds to toss in my bowl”. He seems to routinely forget that I share lunch with him everyday and apparently my raw vegetables were not worth remembering! Dogs are the best!

  • Pam

    2009/03/04 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for making me laugh so often

  • Kristan

    2009/03/04 at 6:29 pm

    Lol awww. We don’t let Riley eat human food if we can help it, but sometimes I “slip” and a scrap or two will fall “accidentally” as I’m doing the dishes, and I try to “warn Riley away” by yelling OOPS!

    Now sometimes he comes running when I click Send but forget the attachment, or unplug my iPod while it’s still syncing. Maybe I should have used another code word?? o_O

  • Britte S.

    2009/03/04 at 6:30 pm

    Part of me would like to see a webcam of a fully day in the live of the Armstrongs. Mostly because I think Chuck and coco are really cute and I want to see the fights in live action for one, rather than pictures. I want to see the craziness that goes on in a single day in your family. I think it would be highly entertaining for all.

    Except for maybe you guys. 🙂

  • Britte S.

    2009/03/04 at 6:31 pm

    Part of me would like to see a webcam of a full day in the lives of the Armstrongs. Mostly because I think Chuck and coco are really cute and I want to see the fights in live action for one, rather than pictures. I want to see the craziness that goes on in a single day in your family. I think it would be highly entertaining for all.

    Except for maybe you guys. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    2009/03/04 at 6:39 pm

    Great story! It makes me almost think dogs are worth all of that work.

  • Anonymous

    2009/03/04 at 6:45 pm

    About the new masthead, is it Lame or Lamé. I’d bet on the latter.

    Coco is truly a nutcase. If you are really lucky, she will begin to mellow around age two, but I wouldn’t count on it.

  • kimberly

    2009/03/04 at 6:46 pm

    Too funny! You tell great stories.

  • True Love Waits

    2009/03/04 at 6:47 pm

    I love your stories. And I want another dog!

  • kate

    2009/03/04 at 6:48 pm

    We had a dog that we got from the pound because her previous owners who loved her very much had the audacity to go and have a baby. When the furniture chewing, rug pooping and eventually baby BITING started, guess who got the boot. We always said if she had just stuck around for a few more months till cheerios entered their lives, she would never have left.

    Silly request, but any chance we can get a diagram of your house? Every time you mention how you go from your bedroom UPSTAIRS to the kitchen drives me nuts – I just can’t seem to get a picture in my head of what such a house must look like.

  • Corinne

    2009/03/04 at 6:59 pm

    Heather!!!!!!!!!! I loved this one!! Thanks so much!

  • Fabulox

    2009/03/04 at 7:01 pm

    that’s it, I’m convinced, we’re totally getting a dog. as a fat prego chick I am tired of crawling around on my hands and knees to sweep up the daily flood of crumbs and food bits that my 2 year old drops with glee all over the floor. as if I will have the energy to do this after baby #2 is born.

  • Cee

    2009/03/04 at 7:01 pm

    I have the sweetest, shyest, snuggliest dog in the world – but when it comes to food he is a vicious beast.

  • Midwest Mommy

    2009/03/04 at 7:03 pm

    You are so funny.

  • Keyona

    2009/03/04 at 7:14 pm

    Cute story! Animals are so good for kiddos and vice versa!

  • Maria

    2009/03/04 at 7:44 pm

    I just have to know how you keep the herding dog from dragging Leta by her clothing around the room every time she moves quickly or makes a loud noise!

    I did laugh tho…. we’ve learned that a good way to get a day of rest from the bordercollie obsessions is to either take her to a family event or doggie daycare. A full day of living with her herding instinct is enough to give us peace for about 4 days!

  • Jenni

    2009/03/04 at 7:44 pm

    I love the post, but was still so distracted by the thought of how soundly you must sleep in your basement.

  • Holly Thatcher

    2009/03/04 at 8:12 pm

    I still really want to know why I can’t make comments on the daily style or the daily photo. WILL YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN?

  • Catherine

    2009/03/04 at 8:16 pm

    hehe, I’d love to see a picture of Coco under the chair sometime, if you’d be so kind as to post one for us!

  • Sarah

    2009/03/04 at 8:19 pm

    nicely done dooce 🙂

  • Lady K

    2009/03/04 at 8:25 pm

    That seals the deal. We’ve been thinking about adopting a rescue greyhound.
    Now we are gonna do it.

  • Bella-Sweet

    2009/03/04 at 8:27 pm

    So funny! I’m surprised Leta lets Coco eat her droppings 🙂

  • Amelia Sprout

    2009/03/04 at 8:27 pm

    I really don’t understand people who don’t have dog and kids at the same time (you know, not themselves, like adopt the kid or something). I can’t imagine having to clean up all of the little crumbs. I would go insane.

  • Erin

    2009/03/04 at 8:33 pm

    I would not live life without a dog-buster. They make food throwing acceptable to deal with.

  • Alexis

    2009/03/04 at 8:39 pm

    I, too, desperately want to know why you go upstairs to your kitchen. I’m sure you can find a crafty way to share this information without getting too personal, right?

    Because I enjoy insanity as much as the next dog lover, we are welcoming a puppy in May that will surely challenge our German Shepherd when it comes to receiving the blessings-from-heaven that my 6 month-old, 5 year-old, and 7 year-old bestow upon my wood floors. I can’t wait!

  • Jessica

    2009/03/04 at 8:43 pm

    Our sad little cat has caught on to what a food gold mine the kiddo is. I catch our CAT eating blueberries, wheat thins, pasta, corn. It’s amazing…but the floor is still filthy.

  • Stephanie

    2009/03/04 at 8:48 pm

    I just adore your blog. Thanks for being a bright spot in my day.

    I can perfectly picture our dog, Missy doing the exact same thing once we have kids. Right now all she has to look forward to is my horribly messy cooking abilities 🙂

  • Christina

    2009/03/04 at 9:03 pm

    Pets are a riot. I miss having them. We’re working ourselves up to a rabbit, maybe. This is really making me want a dog though. Especially considering the fact that I have to mop under my table every day due to my three messy eaters. The time I could save…

  • KAS

    2009/03/04 at 9:07 pm

    That dog really will fucking die when The Next Kid arrives. She will probably have a happy seizure and the world may also end.

    I look forward to pictures of the aftermath once finger foods start.

  • Angela

    2009/03/04 at 9:13 pm

    “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.”

    I just figured that out THIS VERY MORNING. Now the little shit can wait until I’m good and ready to go for a walk.

    Also, my captcha is “million appliqued” and I feel like my IP mistook me for Martha Stewart.

  • mediumcrazy

    2009/03/04 at 9:21 pm

    This site always makes me smile, but this time I actually laughed out loud, so thanks. Also, I love being rewarded with a long post in return for the seventy-five times per day that I check your site.

  • Apple

    2009/03/04 at 9:47 pm

    This is one of your best posts in quite some time.

    I used to enjoy reading your blog 4 years ago when you came across as so much more authentic–even though I didn’t much care for your scatalogical humor. I can understand if the criticism over the years has caused you to become more guarded. But at the same time, I wish your current writing didn’t usually sound so contrived.

    Cool layout, though.

  • Deanna

    2009/03/04 at 9:47 pm

    This has little to do with the actual post, even though I love a good canine vacuum cleaner. But to all those inquiring about the kitchen being on the second floor, I grew up in such a house–the living room, kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms were on the second floor. The master bedroom, bath, family room and office were on the first floor. This was because our house was built into the side of a hill.

    Based on that experience, I would bet a dollar the Blurbodoocery is built into a hill with the front facing uphill and the back facing downhill, so you come through the main entry on what is technically the second finished level of the house and go downstairs (or to what most people would think is a finished basement) to access the other rooms.

    I’d have bet more than a dollar, but, hey, recession. Do I get a dollar? 😀

  • kaitlyn sage

    2009/03/04 at 9:55 pm

    Can I just tell you… ok, so two things.

    One: tipsy commenting on other people’s blogs is the best.
    Two: my dear 90 pound lap dog (husky/golden retriever mix) wakes up every single morning at the crack of dawn and paces until I tear myself out of my nice warm bed to let him out. At that point he makes a lap around the yard, pees ever so quickly and then comes to sit at the door at attention, whimpering until I let him back inside so that he can collapse in exactly the same spot he left roughly 45 seconds before.

    Don’t you love them?

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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