the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Wherein I return to my roots

Marlo’s favorite thing to do now, after having been taught by her evil grandmother, is to climb stairs. Great. Because this new house is basically four stories, three above and one below ground. Lots of stairs to climb! No problem for an almost thirteen-month-old who routinely dives off of our bed head-first and loves the sound her skull makes as it hits the floor!

For the first few days we were living here we didn’t have the right size of gate to install in areas where a gate might help things out. So while unpacking we would take turns grabbing her from the bottom of the staircase, returning her to a safe spot, and then grabbing her again. Over and over and over, and I finally understood why some women say they stay thin because they chase after their children. Because before, there was no chasing. It was me in one corner folding clothes while Leta sat perfectly still on the couch reading Chaucer.

One morning last week we woke up having not set up the gate the night before, and not two seconds after finishing her bottle she charged off of our bed, out of our room, and headed straight for the stairs. I looked at Jon and said, dude, it’s time. Which was code for: you get the dogs, I’ll get the one over here with rabies.

Except, when I caught up with Marlo at the top of the stairs, the smell of death smacked me right in the face, and I could see a squirrel tail of poop all the way up her back. Changing just a regular diaper these days is not unlike trying to take a sumo wrestler to the ground, so ones that are filled with that much feces require the handiwork of at least two people. One to restrain her limbs, and the other one to gag.

This was the beginning of a string of fatal errors. Because I immediately yelled for Jon who had just that second let Coco out of her crate. And Coco does not like to linger. The moment she gets out of her crate in the morning, it is high time to pee. So there had better be an open door somewhere. Where’s the open door? Where? Where? And if you’re even a second off with your timing you’ve suddenly got a shallow indoor pool.

But we weren’t thinking about this right then, no. No, there were other more fragrant matters at hand. And all over my hands, because Marlo was trying to wrestle me to the ground, whipping chunky poop into the air as she struggled. Have you guys missed the poop talk? Because I was getting used to a life where I didn’t have to write about it so much. And just that side effect alone makes Jon’s vasectomy totally worth it.

So we were getting Marlo cleaned up, and I don’t even think I could describe the process to you, because it was just a total blur: poopy limbs waving around like windmills, both of us shoving wipes at each other, that kid screeching at the top of her lungs. When suddenly I remembered Coco. No, wait: suddenly, I reeememmmmberrrreddd COOOOOH-COOOOOOH.


And we could not find her anywhere. I called and called, searched for twenty minutes. You have to understand: there are probably fifty different closets in this house, twenty-nine of them with locks. Originally they each had a different lock until we had a locksmith come and change them all to one. So that, you know, one of the kids locks herself in the closet and OOPS, WE CAN’T FIND THE RIGHT KEY OUT OF ALL TWENTY-NINE OF THEM.

I looked in every closet, every nook, under every bed. And because she wasn’t coming when called I just knew something terrible had happened. AND OH HAD THERE EVER.

Canine diarrhea in five-foot-circumference puddles in the kitchen. In the living room. In the dining room. All over the dining room wall. You guys, Coco is a small dog. I don’t think a Russian submarine is capable of holding that much liquid.

Jon was in such a place at this point that I instructed him to calm his shit down, go over to the bar in the kitchen with the girls and eat breakfast. He was doing the satan ventriloquist thing, stringing together obscenities under his breath, and I made him promise me that when I found Coco and brought her through the kitchen to the back yard that he would not fling his cereal spoon at her head.

That poor dog. She was on the top floor in our office hiding behind a filing cabinet. And I literally had to drag her by the collar to get her to come downstairs. Then I began the tedious clean up, on my hands and knees. Soaking up dog shit. Wiping away dog shit. Throwing away dog shit. And it just went on and on and on. Toward the end of it I had sweat rolling down my forehead, but I was petrified that if I dared to try and wipe it away I’d get either human or canine feces in my eyes.


It wasn’t Coco.

I mean, I KNOW!

Because later that afternoon Chuck sprayed both the living room and the kitchen again with five more gallons of diarrhea. And it was the same color, same texture, same consistency. Coco must have seen the mess Chuck made that morning and been all, SOMEONE is getting in trouble and it ain’t gonna be me!

I’m with you, Coco!

A $200 trip to the vet and runny poop sample later, and we found out that Chuck just had an upset stomach. No parasites. Probably something he ate in the backyard. Couldn’t he have just said so? I would have gladly carried him to the back door myself. Because now there’s a giant brown stain on the wall in the dining room, and when I’m showing friends the house, I have to say, “That? Oh, that’s where we spray our dog shit.”

  • acornsquash

    2010/07/12 at 4:15 pm

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, but I liked it.

  • Emmy

    2010/07/12 at 4:18 pm

    Poop’s never been so funny!

  • territorial

    2010/07/12 at 4:18 pm

    I love my dog, but doggy diarrhea seriously makes me want to rethink his existence in my house from time to time. Sorry about the wall.

  • HDC

    2010/07/12 at 4:19 pm

    Coco probably found a stale bobcat turd and set off the peristaltic chain reaction after partaking.

  • crikkett

    2010/07/12 at 4:22 pm

    Guess it’s a good excuse to start picking out paint colors! Hilarious. Well, because I didn’t have to clean it up.

    I came home from work one day to a dog-shit horror show like this one. We lived in a tiny 600 sq.ft. cottage at the time, and as I walked into the door, two things happened: 1) I was overwhelmed by the stench, and 2) I stepped in a pile of it, conveniently left right inside the front door, slid, and fell. Right in the dog shit. If that wasn’t horrific enough – I discovered she’d hurled 3 or 4 times on our new microfiber sofa, and she’d even managed to shit all over a basket of clean clothes that were yet to be folded.

    But funny enough, my first reaction was to find the dog, give her a hug, and make sure she wasn’t dying. So I think I’ll be okay with dealing with motherhood one day. 🙂

  • jan001

    2010/07/12 at 4:40 pm

    Oh, poor Chuck for obvious reasons. And poor Coco for being scared on his behalf. And poor you for the clean-up! I guess babies and animals do tend to inure us a little bit to poop.

    I lived for several years in a small place that had all marble tile floors. I also had a couple of cats who periodically did what cats do — barf. One morning, I stumbled from bed, stepped in it with my bare foot on that smooth slick floor.

    I did the Neutron Dance trying not fall, and I’m pretty sure I did a sit spin going past the bathroom door.

  • megnstuff

    2010/07/12 at 4:44 pm

    my boys are in this wonderful never ending phase of taking off their diaper and smearing poo all over their room – I am talking carpet, walls, linens, toys, stuffed animals and of course each other.

    I sympathize with you and your poo crisis. And secretly I feel glad that I am not the only one battling poo!

  • sarahfromthenorth

    2010/07/12 at 4:47 pm

    ok .. that imagery is pretty funny .. and I’ve lived it, except I was living in a house with a surface well that had gone dry. And my baby son had the runs …

    My coonhound/ridgeback 11 yr old mix is currently in his second bout of diarrhea in as many weeks and I’m freeeeeeaking out. He wakes us at all hours, and I used to just put him on the deck. But after 4 times of dragging out the pressure washer to clean the shit up I’m done with that .. so like this morning at 4 a.m. I just walk him .. do you KNOW how many people are UP at 4a.m .. good thing I put my pj pants on .. sheesh!

    Anyway .. PLEASE IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON WHAT I CAN GIVE HIM TO STOP THIS SHIT .. PLEASE EMAIL ME .. I’m sooo done with it! btw .. we live near a sandpit and I’m pretty sure it’s from the water he drank there with my husband yesterday while I was on a girlfriends weekend up north .. just like he did two weeks ago. I guess there’s bacteria in the water hole.

    thanks for any ideas. The last bout lasted 4 days ..

  • lisdom

    2010/07/12 at 4:48 pm

    I love that no matter how fancy your new house is, there will always be poop to “keep it real”, as the kids say.

    (and I still love that you got a new house, with all the struggle it took to get it.)

  • SuzRocks

    2010/07/12 at 4:48 pm

    That is absolutely HILARIOUS. Only because it reminds me of when my dog (as a puppie), went doggie diarrhea all over my car. And then played in it. It was everywhere- the radio, the doors, the windows, the seats.


    I’ve suppressed that into the recesses of my memory it was so horrifying. It might be time to revisit it and write a post about it.

  • Fifi Coon

    2010/07/12 at 4:50 pm

    Thank God your back!!! The people in my office are walking by wondering what in the hell I am laughing at!!!

  • luv and kiwi

    2010/07/12 at 4:51 pm

    oh my…you are the master queen of pooh stories. luv it.

  • vintagejones

    2010/07/12 at 4:51 pm

    Ok, first the little one climbing the stairs is the cutest thing ever!

    Second, I hope the Cocoa doesn’t eat the same thing… Because even though it would probably net the funniest post ever, I don’t wish 2 dogs with doggy diarrhea on anyone…

  • stufflife

    2010/07/12 at 4:52 pm

    I can absolutely empathize with doggy messes. We had two dogs with uncontrollable…everything last weekend. It kind of ruins the moment.

    I was wondering when Coco got a last name. Sounds like she may have been bred in Japan, because she sounds related to Yoko.


  • Granny Tammy

    2010/07/12 at 4:55 pm

    As my mother would say, “Shit, oh dear”

    Thank you for my laugh everyday!

  • i.delia

    2010/07/12 at 5:00 pm

    While moving across country we snuck our Rottweiler/Doberman mix into a hotel that didn’t accept dogs. My husband wrapped him in a blanket and carried him in like a sleeping child, albeit an ugly one.

    We thought we had really fooled the hotel until our dog had the exact same diarrhea problem Chuck did. Barely missed our then 18 month old, and sprayed all over the hotel bed.

  • lollynx

    2010/07/12 at 5:01 pm

    Funniest story about dog shit in a four-story house I’ve read all afternoon.

  • missusclark

    2010/07/12 at 5:01 pm

    Ah, poop stories! I love ’em! I’m gonna do a dramatic recitation of this post to my husband over a glass of wine in the bed later.

    Also? Our twin girls turned five last week. Don’t miss the diaper wrestling one tiny, little bit.

    Lastly, we had gates and my girls still managed to fall down the stairs. Thank god they are carpeted. I truly believe 90% of a parents job is to try and keep the little darlings alive

  • vida23

    2010/07/12 at 5:04 pm

    I just want to say that this blog is a joy to read (seriously). I almost always get a chuckle, sometimes a hearty laugh (this post), and it occasionally makes me a little teary. What an adventure! Isn’t life a blast?
    Congrats to your family on the beautiful new house!!

  • mommica

    2010/07/12 at 5:05 pm

    Look, I know we all love our animals and they are family members and all that shit, but whose bright idea was it to let creatures who have no idea how to use a toilet live in our homes? I bet it took a long time for things to catch on.

  • Truthful Mommy

    2010/07/12 at 5:10 pm

    I would say that your new home has been dually Marlo and Chuck! In my house, there ain’t no party like a poop party! It’s just par for the course of this mothering gig! You are good! If I had been surrounded by all that shit, I”m pretty sure I would have barfed. Baby poop, no problem.Doggie diarrhea? Well, we would have had to add Mommy vomit to the mix! I’ve had almost the exact day, but luckily for me it was of the urination variety. Hope everyone has fully recovered from the ordeal! I just thought, another title for this post could have been, In a shit storm, when it rains, it pours!:) Happy Mothering!

  • Greta Koenigin

    2010/07/12 at 5:11 pm

    Sorry about all the waste.

    I have to say that this reads like the Stand By Me Barf-o-rama. You made art out of this Poo Story.

  • agablack

    2010/07/12 at 5:13 pm


  • Wombat Central

    2010/07/12 at 5:13 pm

    Puddles of Poop. Great name for a band.

  • agablack

    2010/07/12 at 5:14 pm

    I can actually SMELL it all the way in LA.

    Ugh square.

  • dragonfish

    2010/07/12 at 5:20 pm

    Soo….seriously disgusting, very hilarious and oh so darn real.
    ‘I shit and I stink, I’m real join the club!’

    I have had this smaller scale experience with a velveteen chocolate lab puppy, a camp site miles and MILES from water, and a car interior.

    I feel your pain, and thanks for sharing it with all of us in such an entertaining and funny way. Can’t wait to hear about the new paint colors!

  • Mogsie

    2010/07/12 at 5:21 pm




    oh, I’m DYING here ~ to freakin’ funny!!!

    “Oh that’s where we spray our dog shit!”


    I feel so bad for you ~ you poor girl … what a shitty way to start your day! (pun intended, yes… I know it is BAAD!)


  • tallnoe

    2010/07/12 at 5:34 pm

    I was looking dumbfounded at the page for several minutes after finishing. And then I said EW and started laughing.


  • JennyP

    2010/07/12 at 5:34 pm

    I basically choked on my own spit when I read, “Oh that’s where we spray our shit.”

    Last summer we moved into our first house and apparently that stressed out our shih tzu. Hmmm …shih tzu…shit, just making that connection now.

    Anyway, we bought a sisal rug from Pottery Barn and within TWENTY FOUR HOURS, the dog had insane rocket diarrhead on it. I called a million places only to be told by Stanley Steamer, “Sisal? No you can’t clean that. You’re not even supposed to get that wet.”

    A gallon of water and a pound of oxiclean later, I have a mostly clean but seriously misshapen sisal rug. And a dog I still love. Most of the time.

    PS I love reading everyone’s dog poop stories. Who doesn’t love a good poop story??

  • Becky Cochrane

    2010/07/12 at 5:41 pm

    Can’t…stop…laughing. Chuck is now the Valedictorian of Poop.

  • misheru

    2010/07/12 at 5:47 pm

    Totally reminds me of my youngest child’s ability to rocket poop from her diaper when she was that age. There was a reason we sold our old car as scrap. Also, she could hit walls, even with a diaper on. It was impressive.

    Also reminds me of last week, when one of the dogs I’m petsitting left what must be the biggest shit I have ever seen in the middle of the living room. It was like linebacker-who-had-the-all-you-can-eat-ribs big, and I used a shovel to pick it up. A SHOVEL. AND IT FILLED IT.

    Good times.

  • LinKelley

    2010/07/12 at 6:07 pm

    Sounds to me like Marlo is saying, “Grandma.”

  • hmccreary

    2010/07/12 at 6:25 pm

    Ohhh I really needed that laugh today….thanks for the poopy comic relief.

  • Laura Jones

    2010/07/12 at 6:45 pm

    Two hours before all my guests arrived for Christmas the old cat peed in the heat vent. Since she never did this before it took me a while to figure out why the guest bathroom reeked. We started keeping that door shut and she found other heat vents. So for Christmas my house smelled like a cooked litter box.

  • Bree

    2010/07/12 at 6:54 pm

    OMG I love this. I love this so much. I LOVE when Dooce posts about deuces. 🙂 It’s fantastically funny.

  • nadia

    2010/07/12 at 7:28 pm

    Time for a dog door!

  • mrscunning14

    2010/07/12 at 7:39 pm

    My daughter also started climbing before she started walking. If she and Marlo are anything alike–brace yourself. You’re in trouble! Marlo looks so sweet and proud of herself.

    The poop story was very entertaining. I’m so sorry for poor Chuck.

  • cory212

    2010/07/12 at 7:45 pm

    OK, so now the new house has been officially christened!

  • mrs.notouching

    2010/07/12 at 8:25 pm

    “Soaking up dog shit. Wiping away dog shit. Throwing away dog shit. And it just went on and on and on.” – see, shit like that will definitely bump you up at least to number twenty-five this year!
    P to the S I just finished reading the book about baby’s brain development and apparently climbing develops the same part of the brain that later is responsible for everything math. Now you will be less shocked when in about a month Marlo will finally resolve The Hodge Conjecture.

  • MiSs.PoLkA.dOtS

    2010/07/12 at 8:30 pm

    After a bad day, reading this made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants! Thanks for the story sorry for the poo!

  • bluzdude

    2010/07/12 at 8:39 pm

    My girlfriend keeps saying we need to get pets. Your post just helps me dig in my heels.

    I avoided poop for most of my life by not having kids. No need to substitute dog poop.

  • apostate

    2010/07/12 at 9:04 pm

    Why I don’t have a dog. Because I wouldn’t inflict an outside dog on the neighbors. And because animals are not for houses.

  • Sarah C

    2010/07/12 at 10:01 pm

    Oh wow, Dooce. I thought no one would ever top MY sick-dog-horror-story. I was visiting my boyfriend in Miami over MLK holiday weekend and we woke up Monday morning to NINE piles of bright orange dog vomit on his white (rented apartment) carpet. After taking him for a walk, the dog threw up 3 more times. My boyfriend panicked after he kept trying to feed him, and the dog kept throwing up. Finally (after MUCHO scrubbing!!), he called the only open vet in the area, and we took him to South Beach. We waited almost 2 hours, with a bill totaling $500. While my boyfriend got ready to pay, I took the car to get us lunch and a much needed to-go beer. The takeout place was slow and when I came back out, the car had been towed. I had to walk 4 blocks to find it, with a hurt knee from running the night before. It was $250 to get the car out of impound. I didn’t have a bottle opener for our to-go beer either. And the dog’s diagnosis? Nothing. No parasites. No internal damage from eating crazy things off the street. My boyfriend fasted the dog for the rest of the day and he never threw up again.

  • momof8

    2010/07/12 at 10:26 pm

    Oh my, thank you for reminding me why we don’t have pets . . . and btw do you make up the comment test words? Mine were: Placenta working???

  • Tricia

    2010/07/12 at 10:47 pm

    Thank you for bringing me to my senses yet again on the issue of pet-ownership. No pets, no way, now how. Two children provide enough shit for any household.

  • Mandy

    2010/07/13 at 12:35 am

    God, that’s just so funny. I can just feel the disgust in your words and that’s what makes me laugh so much. Just that fact it was Chuck too and also that you were already contending with baby poos…ahh, Thank you!

  • HalalaMama

    2010/07/13 at 12:40 am

    Though I’m sorry about your morning of poop…that last line made it totally worth it (for me anyway).

  • belletoes

    2010/07/13 at 12:43 am

    OH MY GAHHHH! I am alternating between wiping away the tears and squeezing my legs together so I don’t pee my pants! It is one thirty in the AM and I’m dying laughing. I have been in your position many many times with my poochens.
    It wasn’t until my Trigger passed away three years ago that my husband and I realized that all of the times we screamed and left him out on the porch for pooping in the house – it was his bitchy little sister Mo Mo Shanaynay! (Chuck’s twin)
    I hear Martha Stewart has a new paint color for the dining room…………dog shit spray. Thanks for the laughs! Nature’s Miracle works great!

  • Couture Coco

    2010/07/13 at 12:52 am

    OMG and you want CHICKENS too?! I used to be with you & Tyrant on that but now I KNOW Jon is right!

  • kshooter

    2010/07/13 at 1:39 am

    Ya know, I learned to deal with baby poop from working in a nursery and changing diaper after diaper every day, but there is just something about the though/sight/smell of dog poop inside that just makes the bile inch up the back of my throat.

    Oh, and it sounds like Marlo is trying to say either “Come on” or “climbing”. She’s so stinking adorable!

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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