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.

  • Texas mama

    2009/03/04 at 9:56 pm

    Oh, does my family love the “herding” dogs !  We once had a Shetland Sheepdog and your Coco so reminds me of her.  Our Pepper would herd our kids in the front yard as they played.  I am sure she would have done it for hrs. if we allowed her to do it for that long. You can’t stop a dog from doing it, either !  So, don’t even try ! Also, count me in on the fan club for your clean floors ! Amazing !
    And I almost rented a house once that the kitchen was upstairs !

  • Ray

    2009/03/04 at 10:01 pm

    Hahaha! Coco sounds like quite the dog. ;D

  • Dani

    2009/03/04 at 10:09 pm

    Awwww pets are awesome. You make me want to go hug my two dogs. I’m only going to hug the one that’s here though ’cause I’m way to lazy to go find the other one. She’s probably following my daughter around hoping for treats too.

  • Martha

    2009/03/04 at 10:42 pm

    ……..mmmm a “thought bubble”
    you mean Coco’s exploding “thought bubble”?
    boy, do i miss having a dog, freakin’ cats are all over the counterops and tables. I can’t stand it.
    Last pup we had even cleared up cucumber ends and
    Mr. Lickyface would wipe off the yogurt tops and even try oranges.
    Time for another pup!

    see link below on how dogs make us feel good (oxycontin)
    in The Toronto Star- Toronto. Canada

    Martha sans dog but waiting to Foster again for DGC


  • Martha

    2009/03/04 at 10:46 pm

    Oooooops (a BIG OOPS!) I meant oxycontin
    what was I thinking? (or not)


  • Devon

    2009/03/04 at 11:05 pm

    While I was denied a dog when I was a child, I did have a very fat cat… who used to sit by me and my sister and wait for us to drop our food down.

    She would also lick the dishes if they were left out on the counter. No dishwasher necessary. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    2009/03/04 at 11:07 pm

    Check out the edible diapers fake commercial from saturday night live. It is hilarious.

  • Miranda

    2009/03/04 at 11:17 pm

    Awesome. I love that I could totally picture the whole scene. My mom calls her mini schnauzer her “hoover” and she loves when the grand kids come to visit.

  • Professional Critic

    2009/03/04 at 11:25 pm

    I heart Coco. This is one of the sad things about having cats: they never EVER clean up after me. Even if I dropped salmon on the floor, they would still leave gunky bits behind, cause that’s how they roll.

  • Michelle

    2009/03/04 at 11:29 pm

    I got our dog in the hopes that the daily sweeping of the kitchen floor,with two sloppy boys at the table, would end. Suffice it to say that I didn’t realize we got a dog that ate all their leavings but also brought in EVERYTHING from the outside – clumps of dirt, rocks, leaves, and God knows what. Oh well.

  • Anneli

    2009/03/04 at 11:58 pm

    Oh man, I really miss having dogs. 🙁 I so wish my life could accommodate one at the moment, but alas.

  • Bea

    2009/03/05 at 12:09 am

    Classic post Heather – really, I love your writing. I can actually visualise your kitchen and the sliding coco underneath Leta’s chair (where I imagine she is ignoring his attention).

  • Coco

    2009/03/05 at 1:14 am

    Your Coco sounds so cute!

  • Kath

    2009/03/05 at 11:17 am

    I can see it’s going to be a problem for Coco deciding which chair to sit under when the new sib is dropping food too! Cute story.

  • trinsch

    2009/03/05 at 1:24 am

    this is the very reason i am considering a dog. oh, can my boys make a mess! but then again, a dog might leftovers on the floors, but apparently sometimes it goes for dog poo as well, i’ve heard. btw: love the expression on your face in the momversation today.

  • Chelsea

    2009/03/05 at 2:22 am

    Coco is frickin hilarious. Your dogs remind me so much of my own! One of mine, Spark, has decided that every time he comes back inside from the backyard, he deserves a treat. If he doesn’t get one, he runs around the house barking until he gets his way (no prizes for guessing which of your dogs he reminds me of!)

  • Magda

    2009/03/05 at 4:36 am

    Doggy vacuums are environmentally friendly.

  • Elaine at Lipstickdaily

    2009/03/05 at 5:42 am

    I swear I’ve been begging RC to get a dog so I don’t have to look at those damn disgusting floors under the kids chairs anymore. Not that I would actually sweep them or anything.

  • Michelle

    2009/03/05 at 5:48 am

    But does breastmilk and baby food taste that good to a dog?

  • MiniHipster

    2009/03/05 at 6:06 am

    I am surprised Leta hasn’t caught on yet! wait until she decides she doesn’t want to eat something…..lucky Coco!

  • Emily

    2009/03/05 at 11:21 am

    Thanks for the good laugh!

  • Bush Babe

    2009/03/05 at 6:15 am

    Actually… after cleaning up the half a bowl of spaghetti from the floor at the breakfast bench tonight, I am upping the ante for another Great Dane. Anti-theft devices AND built-in vaccuum cleaners. I had forgotten!

    Thanks Heather.

  • Steph VW

    2009/03/05 at 7:07 am

    Bentley, my miniature schnauzer, (now in doggy heaven) did not like children. I don’t know if it was a terrier thing or if something had happened to him, but we had to watch him when children were about.

    One summer at the cottage, he discovered that my youngest nephew was awfully messy while eating. Bentley took up a watchful position beside Ben’s high chair and didn’t give it up all week. Ben, for his part, would grin and drop Cheerios in what he thought was the best game ever. If it hadn’t been for the cereal, Bentley would have eaten Ben’s feet, I’m sure.

  • Melissa

    2009/03/05 at 7:09 am

    I so love the way you tell stories! It really brightens my day.

  • Phatchik

    2009/03/05 at 7:09 am

    I heart dogs.

  • The Confused Husband

    2009/03/05 at 7:48 am

    There is NOTHING like the eyes of a dog about to receive/steal/abscond with people food.

  • Jessica

    2009/03/05 at 7:49 am

    You are totally making me smile lately!

  • Kami

    2009/03/05 at 7:52 am

    My five year old went to open the crate to let one of our two dogs out, and I said don’t do that right now. He wordlessly pointed at the yogurt he had just dropped on the floor, to which I replied, “Get a napkin!”


    2009/03/05 at 7:59 am

    One more reason Pet Goldfish have fallen out of favor.

  • Fanannie

    2009/03/05 at 8:01 am

    Damn! I am SOOOOO impressed that you spelled diphtheria correctly! Was that spell check or did you nail it yourself?! Do you know how many people spell that wrong? That and ophthalmologist…

  • Parsla

    2009/03/05 at 8:04 am

    Your kitchen is upstairs?

  • Amanda

    2009/03/05 at 8:07 am

    Seriously great post! I can picture every moment. That’s what I love about dooce.

  • The niffer

    2009/03/05 at 8:07 am

    Coco may be nutty and intolerable, but she is awesome fodder for your stories.

  • Jen

    2009/03/05 at 8:10 am

    Thank you. I so needed a laugh this morning and you did it. Toast to Coco and the hilarious writer. 🙂

  • Davezwife

    2009/03/05 at 8:14 am

    I just love your guts. Love your stories, love your antics, love it. Love your piks too, and would KILL for a couple of tutorials on how you get your looks. Maybe just a tidbit, on skin tones? Dog fur? Just got my 1st DSLR because I wanna be just like Dooce. But sane. bbruuhaaaaa!!

  • jen

    2009/03/05 at 8:29 am

    my youngest will drop things on the floor at restaurants and yell “skyeeeeee!” (the dog) …
    ohmygod … wow! what a great idea! a restaurant with dogs running around … you would save tons o’ money on floor cleaners! (shh … don’t tell anyone … i came up with the idea first. but then again … i didn’t read through all the comments.)

  • Luann

    2009/03/05 at 8:33 am

    you go UPSTAIRS to have breakfast?

  • Emama

    2009/03/05 at 8:41 am

    Totally the only reason we got a dog. I never clean under our 6 year old chair anymore..the dog takes care of that!

  • d3 voiceworks

    2009/03/05 at 8:43 am

    congratulations on kneeling. i was certain it was all squat about now 😉

    we recently rescued fozzie, my third save. basically, the governor called, as he was headed for death row. sweetest thing EVAR (aussie/german shepherd +collie or sheltie). i love him so much it makes me wonder whether the kid will get as much attention and affection!

    friggin’ 9 days overdue now …

  • Lisa

    2009/03/05 at 9:09 am

    Your timing is awesome! I am getting a corgi puppy this weekend (also a herding dog) and I cannot wait! I know there will be downsides but hopefully the sight of the puppy herding my 2 cats will be worth the price of admission.

  • Katie

    2009/03/05 at 9:12 am

    We have a crazy little Jack Russell (though maybe not quite herding dog crazy) who is constantly underfoot in the kitchen – as I’m a bit of a messy chopper. My boyfriend once gave her the entire trunk of a head of broccoli (minus the florets), which is about the size of her head. He figured she’d never eat the whole thing, but oh, she’s tenacious! Her farts that night were SPECTACULAR!

    Any way you (or another commenter) could tell us what kind of tree the princess tree (of Monday’s daily photo) is? It’s so lovely!

  • Aimee

    2009/03/05 at 9:17 am

    Our dogs must be related. Because you could have been writing about Buddy and my son. Luckily he’s a sloppy boy. Because I am sure, at six Leta won’t be letting as much food fall and the dog will be watching under the little sibling.

  • jendemonium

    2009/03/05 at 9:18 am

    Dude, Coco is totally going to be a dirty diaper eater. Invest in a diaper pail with a locking lid now – trust me, you don’t want to deal with the aftermath of a dog who’s munched on a baby poop filled diaper.

  • Janet

    2009/03/05 at 9:22 am

    You are adorable. And funny. Love your wry humor and storytelling! And, the funny thing is, that’s exactly what Coco was thinking–you nailed it! Dogs are sometimes so transparent!

  • repliderium.com

    2009/03/05 at 9:29 am

    When the new kid hits solid food that is going to be one happy dog!

  • Karrey

    2009/03/05 at 9:32 am

    It’s totally different with cats. We’re always having to wrangle furry tumbleweed around the house, and the only thing the cats care about is milky goodness. Or potato chips.

  • Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

    2009/03/05 at 9:33 am

    What a great post. This is too funny because my SIL’s dog works in exactly the same way.

    Except, with the baby, he just walks right up to her and snatches the crackers out of her hand. Lol.

    Also, I’m glad you’re back. The pregnancy photographs on the beach were lovely!

  • cathy

    2009/03/05 at 10:04 am

    love it,, made my lunch at my work desk much more enjoyable.

  • leesavee

    2009/03/05 at 10:08 am

    As the “mommy” of two dogs, I truly appreciate your stories about Chuck and Coco.

    My husband and I are in the process of adopting siblings from Ethiopia (all we know at this point is that they will be age four or under), so we’ve been having our friends with kids in that age range come over and spend the night so that the dogs will get used to sharing their space. They LOVE the yummy goodness that comes with dropped food!

  • Maternal Mirth

    2009/03/05 at 10:10 am

    Gotta love a herding dog … of course, I say that from far away from any sort of dog and therefore, it doesn’t count.

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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