Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • J. Bo

    Wow, there are a surprising number of folks completely unraveled by the notion of “downstairs” bedrooms.

    Last time I checked (and I do frequently), there’s no law that says bedrooms MUST be “upstairs” in a domicile. Sometimes, due to topography and architecture, one enters a house through the mid or top level, where the kitchen/living areas are, and (gasp!) must actually DESCEND STAIRS to the sleeping quarters.

    It’s not that weird, and it doesn’t mean Heather and Jon sleep in a dungeon. (Not that there would be anything wrong with that…)

  • Levi’s mum

    I would be willing to bet you go upstairs for breakfast because you have one of those beautiful lofty type houses with an almost unrealistic view from the top floor…and because so much time is spent in the living and kitchen rooms, why not make those the ones with the best view. If not, its what I envision as your home.

  • As a fellow dog owner I LOVE this post and totally LOLed

  • HAHAHA! Everytime I read about your dogs I determine that my Jon and I are the kidless twins of you two. Our one-year-old Sheltie (naturally, a herding dog) has this habit of barking right as we sit down to eat dinner. She pretends she has to go to the bathroom, but she’s just bored and wants outside to play. And Jon’s a sucker. At least she hasn’t caught onto the begging just yet… Recently she chewed up a wicker basket of mine and shit sticks for two days. Gotta love the chewing stage….

  • Holly

    Where do Chuck and Coco get kenneled…my dogs don’t come home happy, just happy to be home, I think I need a new kennel. Love those dog stories!

  • Unfortunately our dog, Ollie, has since grown tired of the good old cheerios or tortilla chips. As a matter of fact, he now refuses to show up for anything less than carnitas.

  • i love the way you love your dogs and call them assholes at the same time!

    really enjoyed this post – thanks!

  • Kelly

    Our dog of 11 years passed away last summer. Since then I’ve been astounded by how messy my children actually are! I used to sweep up a couple of times a week and that was mostly to keep the dog hair under control – it was never near the kitchen table. Without her to clean up I find myself sweeping 5+ times a day. Gosh I miss her.

  • The only time my beagle can be bothered to interact (other than running far far away) with my toddler is food time. You’d think they were BFFs when the cheese sticks come out!

  • wolves AND diphtheria is a nasty combination.

  • Our dogs are the exact same way. Our little one is the smartest and she manipulates us all the time with those adorable puppy dog eyes. All she really wants in the world is a belly rub and some grapes. Every thing else she does in life is in some way an attempt to get those two things. She’s pathetic. And yet, I love her anyway. WTF?

  • Snarky Web mistress

    Do you actually read all these comments? If so, IMPRESSIVE!

    Seriously woman, your blog makes my day – you are so funny and honest and the descriptions paint a very vivid image.

    THANK YOU 🙂

  • Awesome! I laughed out loud. You have such a way of capturing things in writing. I love it!

  • you are the most amazing writer and I enjoy reading your blog DAILY. it brings back so many memories with the ones about your dogs to you and your family.
    The spider story brought tears to my eyes, I laughed so hard. and your your dogs remind me of the great dane we had when I was little. Only he never believed he was big.ever.

    Thank you so much.

  • cute*

  • You are so hilarious. I love your stories, what a way with words.

    I laughed out loud at work reading your spider story, thanks for the great read!

    Jess 🙂

  • Too funny! I have a cat that LOVES breakfast cereal milk… not regular milk. No! Only milk which used to have sugar-coated crunchiness floating around in it.
    I made the mistake of letting her lick the last few drops out of my breakfast bowl. It was only once, I swear, but I WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT A BOWL OF CEREAL IN PEACE AGAIN!!!

  • That’s really cute. Atleast your dog does something cool to redeem herself, my cats just whine…all the time…no matter what…without doing anything cool anymore!

  • A H.I.T.

    Wow. This is the first time the comments are still open by the time I’ve read this.

    Like always, this post was hysterical. I can picture Coco’s face when she realized she safely made it to Leta’s chair in time. Phew!

  • Cheri

    I have two pugs that think we starve them to death. They will stand beside the chair and keep their eyes on the floor for crumbs of any sort. I guess it doesn’t help that my fiance is a very sloppy eater.

  • Dooce I love you. You have made a otherwise crap-a-licious day better with your words. Thank you.

  • Never utter the words “Cinnamon Toast Crunch” to a 19-week-pregnant lady. Now I must battle rush-hour traffic to hit the grocery store and grab me a box. Or five. Mmmmmm.

  • Regarding your gorgeous skee ball photograph…we have a family restaurant in our area that has a vintage arcade upstairs for the kiddies. Two push pops end up costing us $10 after 175 tickets are collected. But the hour to have dinner alone with my husband is soooo worth it. I LOVE your photography!!

  • Anonymous

    I was hoping that this was about how your floors always look HAIRLESS in the photos…

  • I don’t know how people with kids can possibly live without a canine vacuum cleaner. Our dog LICKS the floor clean.

  • I often tell people that a dog is a must with a baby, they clean up all that food that flies off of the highchair, and you won’t have to clean it up, ever.

  • Eve

    Thanks for making me smile…

  • Anonymous

    We have the same kind of floor cleaner. He’s camped out under our youngest’s chair for all of his nine years. Great post, Dooce.

  • Liz

    I am relatively new to your blog, however am as big a fan of blogs in general as I am of dogs in general. In the history of all blogging….

    BEST.POST.EVER!!!

  • Beatrix

    sweet post

  • Amy

    Ohhh.

    My dog sits under my chair. I guess I’m just a sloppy eater…

    She never herds, except during storms. She runs from room to room (if we’re not in the same room) and seems to be worried that if there’s a crack of thunder, one of us may have disappeared. She likes us both to be sitting on the couch where she can watch us at the same time. And if there’s a loud crack, then she can sit on both of our laps at the same time (she’s 50lbs, not so much a lap dog).

    It’s a bit ridiculous, but she’s generally so independent, that it’s almost nice in that sick “you need me” kind of way…

  • Do you not have a Roomba? Tho I imagine if you did, with Coco, it may not last too long.

  • Now I want a dog. Almost. Wait…I have a Dustbuster! Never mind.

  • Our dogs do the same, but with my husband-to-be as he spills like a 4-year-old.

  • Hm. I notice you say you go “upstairs” for breakfast and it makes me wonder, do you sleep in the basement or are the main living spaces of your house on the second floor and the bedrooms on the first? If the latter, I’m curious how well that works for you, because I’ve considered building a house that way but have been told it’s too unusual for the area in terms of resale. I’ve always liked the idea though…

    (Sorry if you’ve described your layout before and I missed it.)

  • Anonymous

    DOOCE! Chuck is on http://ihasahotdog.com/!!! I love it!

  • Dogs…… Don’t you just love them (in a YOU MAKE ME CRAZY, but I can’t imagine life without your shedding, pooping, psycho tendencies, and loyal companionship)?!!?? I swear, my yellow lab Emmy is cut from the same mold as Coco. It’s freakish to read about her antics, and identify so entirely.

    Haven’t commented before, so I might as well just tack on a few more thoughts…. I appreciate your open, fresh and honest point of view. You are an exceptionally talented writer, and I can’t get enough of your brand of humor. Leta is adorable, Chuck is hilarious and oh, so talented, your style is impeccable, you looking stunning as a expecting mother, and you have single-handedly made me consider the reality that having children will make me temporarily insane, but bring more joy and growth than imaginable… all that and more! Cheers!

  • Just wanted to say love what you used for the masthead/banner this month–gotta love it when readers give you such GREAT material to work with!!

  • Anonymous

    I saw that Stephanie Klein is on a panel at SXSW. Are you going to be there?

  • Anonymous

    My mom has a CAT vacuum that tries to eat both food and non-food objects (like twist-ties) that she finds on the floor. Only problem is that she sometimes takes the pieces of food she finds and bats them around the house instead of eating them.

  • Had to be one of my Top 10 favorite posts of yours since I’ve been reading. So funny!

  • This is hysterical. We had two dogs when my first was born, and somehow, we are now down to no dogs and two kids…which means the floor is ALWAYS a mess, and there is no one to clean it up. Oh, I miss them.

  • Jenn

    Love it! Made my day!

  • I love this post so much. More, more …

  • Kim

    Ah yes, the Hoover dog. We have a couple of those. Also good for pre-rinsing the dishes.

  • –>Our two labs sleep in a bed at the foot of ours and if we roll over too loudly in the early hours of the morning, she is up, running around on the hardwood floors making all sorts of grunting, sneezing, throat clearing noises that I get up (if my husband doesn’t) to let her out. I have mastered laying perfectly still to trick her into going back to sleep.
    Despite what I want I think the dog clearly has me trained.

    http://thaxtonfam.blogspot.com

  • Sweet story. I need a dog for those very same reasons…. and because my toddler throws his cheerios to the floor as if there is a dog to lick them up!
    http://www.perfectlydisheveled.com

  • It is tougher with cats; they seat and check. All. Individual. Bite. They create you feel like you are willfully craving them to death, only for the heck of it.