the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The canine contingent

Who was I talking to recently about this? Was it you? If it was you just send me “SUCK IT” in a text message and I will totally understand and nod and agree. I have been in so many administrative meetings and attended so many school presentations this week that I can’t keep track of who I was talking to or if I’ve told someone this or that, and this glimpse of dementia would be a lot more terrifying if I couldn’t recite entire paragraphs of dialogue from the first season of “Felicity” to you. 


You and I were in a conversation with a few people about dogs when we simultaneously yelled, “PUPPIES ARE WORSE THAN BABIES,” and both of us could not possibly stand by that statement more. I should just publish a book with page after page of photos of Coco and title it DO NOT DO THIS. I’m sure some puppies are just lovely, and many are in small doses. Like, for ten minutes. But hours? Days? You might as well go buy a pink gun that coos and snuggles every time you shoot a toe off of your foot. Same thing.

Babies are a lot of work, yes, a lot, indeed. But one very fun fact is that you do not have to take them outside to go to the bathroom. You can change their diaper right there inside the warmth of your own home! With the proper equipment you can do it right there without leaving your bed! Neither of them sleep through the night, no, but at least you know that babies will one day grow up and maybe read words. That puppy? That puppy will one day grow up and bark at leaves. Right after consuming its own feces.

I do remember that puppies came up because Chuck turned 12 years old recently, and someone asked if I’d get another dog if “anything ever happened to him.” Ahem. If by “anything” you mean WE ALL DIE, well shut up. No, we don’t. You might die. I might die. But Chuck? No. Chuck is not going to die. Chuck might hop on an outstretched wing of the wind as it silently careens through a canyon and ride off into another life, but that motherfucker isn’t going to die. He’s like Willie Nelson. He’ll transmute or some shit. It will be spiritual as hell and shift gravity.

Would I get another dog? I’m not so sure. Would I get another puppy? HELL TO THE NO. Never. Nope. Never again. Nuh-uh. No, no, no, no, no. Take the entire soundtrack to The Sound of Music and replace all the words with “no” and you wouldn’t even come close to how jubilantly I am saying that word.

Chuck’s age is a little worrisome not in that he’s frail or incontinent or looks like he might fall over at any time, no. He’s just as sprightly as ever when he wants to be. It’s worrisome because it’s the only explanation the vet can give me for his flatulence. That dog can melt steel. It’s horrendous and unexpected and deadly. We’ll be eating dinner thinking he’s downstairs in the basement when all of a sudden a sea of rotten egg odor engulfs the room and starts to peel the skin off of our faces. I’ll frantically look around through my impaired vision and find him sitting underneath Marlo’s chair like, “Hi. I brought you my fart.”

Several months ago I stopped giving the dogs any scraps after a meal because I thought it might solve this problem. No such luck since he started eating anything he could find in the backyard: sticks, clumps of dirt, Coco’s poop. I’d try to be more forgiving of him if it weren’t so embarrassing. Because when I have friends over and it happens…. I feel like I’m REALLY trying to sell the fact that I’m not the one with a problem. My dog is just an asshole.

Over the weekend when Marlo was consumed with blowing up an entire box of balloons I ditched plans to take them out for dinner and instead whipped up a dinner of “noodles.” This means I boiled water, poured in a box of rotini and served Marlo a huge bowl of it covered in parmesan cheese. I made myself a meat sauce and skipped the noodles. Leta took a look at both options and dramatically gagged. So she made herself a frozen burrito. Everyone was happy. The end.

I noticed Chuck hanging around a bit through the whole meal and, I don’t know, he’s old. He’s old and depriving him of a scrap here or there hasn’t solved anything. Can’t I cut him a little slack? Where is my heart? Oh, right. HE MELTED IT WITH HIS FART.

After we cleared the table I started to load the dishwasher and for the first time in many, many months I had both dogs sit at one end of the kitchen while I sat the pan that I had cooked the meat sauce in on the floor at the other end. Dogs have to earn treats in this house by performing a trick, waiting, or fixing me a hot dog.

Marlo immediately caught on to the fact that a “game” was going on and wanted to be in charge. What were the rules? When did the chasing start? Where should she stand? I pulled her next to me and told her that I was having the dogs wait until I said a certain word. Then they could come and lick the pan.


“Can I say it?! Can I say it?!” she shouted.

“You most certainly can. We just need to wait a bit longer,” I said.

“BUT I WANT TO SAY IT NOW!” Of course she did. Kid wants her Oompa Loompa PRONTO, Wonka.

“Okay,” I said knowing that enough time had elapsed because pools of drool had accumulated underneath both dogs. “Are you ready?”


If I had said the word out loud both dogs would have come running, so I said to her, “What does G-O spell?”

She turned to face the dogs and yelled, “WHAT DOES G-O SPELL!”

Do not ever accuse her of ignoring directions.

“Marlo, no,” I said. “What word does that spell?”

Again she faced the dogs: “WHAT WORD DOES THAT SPELL!”

Both dogs remained perfectly still. So she yelled it again. “WHAT WORD DOES THAT SPELL?!!

“Marlo,” I said trying to muffle my laughter. “What do you do at a green light?”

She put her index finger to her mouth for just a second and then turned to the dogs again: “DRIVE YOUR CAR!”

Technically speaking, that was right answer to my question, but both dogs didn’t move.

“UGH!” she screamed. “Why aren’t they coming?”

“Let’s say you’re driving your car and you stop at a red light. When that red light turns green, what do you do then?”

She cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled at the dogs, “YOU’RE AT A GREEN LIGHT AND YOU’RE DRIVING!”

I had the feeling that Chuck was sitting there thinking, good god, woman. Are you seen in public with this human? On purpose?

I finally pulled her close enough that I could whisper in her ear, “‘Go.’ You have to say, ‘Go,’ to the dogs.”

She mustered every molecule of air in her lungs, stretched her neck as high as it would reach and bellowed, “GO TO THE DOGS!

Neither dog budged, and since Marlo was already frustrated I immediately followed up with, “She said, ‘GO!'” Once the word left my mouth both Chuck and Coco scrambled across the floor to the pan and had their first scrap in months.

“I said, ‘Go to the dogs,’ and they go’ed!” she squealed.

“They did go’ed,” I said nodding, holding my breath for just a moment to savor the memory of my four-year-old enjoying her dog, her aging and moody and flatulent pet who will hopefully stick around forever.

  • ST

    2014/04/03 at 11:18 am

    I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Thank you!

    As for dogs, my husband and I adopt rescue dogs that are between 10 months and 2 years old that are very clearly described as “housebroken.” They’re not quite puppies, but they’re still little with long lives ahead of them. They sleep through the night, and they don’t pee on my floors. They’re mostly still assholes in other ways, but oh, how we reap the rewards of someone else taking care of their bodily function issues.

  • Lara

    2014/04/03 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for your frequent reminders that PUPPIES ARE HARD – can you hurry up and publish that book of Coco pictures and set up a kiosk next to the mall pet store?

  • Kartasi

    2014/04/03 at 11:22 am

    Oh my god, tears are literally running down my face, I’m laughing so hard.

  • Blake

    2014/04/03 at 11:29 am

    My parents have a 13 year old, 85lb border collie mix named Miller that can not only clear a room with his farts, but they (the farts) have now gone from the silent type to the slow and long sounding fart that you can actually picture leaving his ass. And the funny part? My parents say the don’t hear them. They’ve tried to convince me that Miller has lost his hearing, but I’m leaning towards their hearing that is gone.

  • Bonnie B.

    2014/04/03 at 11:31 am

    TEARS of laughter are on my face!! That kid kills me…

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/03 at 11:31 am

    Oh my god, the ones that make sounds! Sometimes they squeak out while he’s sitting there and he will turn around like, “What was that? Did YOU hear that?” Yeah, dude. It came out of your butt.

  • acm

    2014/04/03 at 11:36 am

    her aging and moody and flatulent pet who will hopefully stick around forever.

    this sort of sums up the insanity and joy of both pet ownership and parenthood. wits end, hugs.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/03 at 11:44 am

    Yeah? Looking into that NOW.

  • JH

    2014/04/03 at 11:50 am

    This is the funniest blog you’ve posted in a long time. I haven’t laughed out loud that hard at a blog post on any site in a while, thanks lol.

  • Alisa Haase Allen

    2014/04/03 at 11:54 am

    I have never commented, but I am an avid reader. I enjoy your wit and perspective. This post had me crying with laughter. Thanks for sharing!

  • Breanne

    2014/04/03 at 12:02 pm

    I laughed and laughed at the descriptions of Chuck’s farts (and silently congratulated myself for reading this in my office far, far away from where I would ever have to smell them). And then I laughed even harder when Marlo followed directions SO WELL.

    And Chuck? Chuck is totally Willy Nelson.

  • KMS

    2014/04/03 at 12:05 pm

    I’m crying. I’m totally crying with laughter. I can see this happening in my future.

  • kmpinkel

    2014/04/03 at 12:08 pm

    That was awesome! Marlo is awesome! Thank you for that. i needed it today.

  • kmpinkel

    2014/04/03 at 12:10 pm

    Share if it works. I have one that when he farts, it smells like he was out all night eating Taco Bell and drinking Milwaukee’s Best.

  • Preeti

    2014/04/03 at 12:12 pm

    I just sniggered loudly in my very quiet office

  • Torchness

    2014/04/03 at 12:13 pm

    Just reminds me of this useful bon mot I read in a book once: “Never trust anyone who doesn’t think farts are funny.” Preach.

  • KristenfromMA

    2014/04/03 at 12:16 pm

    You might die. I might die. But Chuck? No. Chuck is not going to die. Chuck might hop on an outstretched wing of the wind as it silently careens through a canyon and ride off into another life, but that motherfucker isn’t going to die. He’s like Willie Nelson. He’ll transmute or some shit. It will be spiritual as hell and shift gravity.

    That’s pure poetry.

    As far as puppies go, they may be cute but they are too much work. Training. TEETHING. There are so many adult dogs that need homes, too. People are suckers for puppies and overlook older dogs. All 4 of my dogs were adopted as adults, and not a bad one in the bunch.

  • krendybluth

    2014/04/03 at 12:34 pm

    My dog has been known to flip her head around and bark at her own farts.

  • Guest

    2014/04/03 at 12:46 pm

    This reminds me of my childhood dog, and how his farts turned rancid with age.

    But think, if he weren’t around to drop eggy farts, who would you blame your own farts on?

  • Paula

    2014/04/03 at 12:49 pm

    I wish they worked. They were our last ditch effort but our boxer’s bowels are no match. At least she’s cute. Ugh.

  • sarah

    2014/04/03 at 12:51 pm

    our girl does the accusing look at her own fart sounds, too. only usually it kind of scares her. she’ll abruptly stand up and leave the room, like ‘have fun with that gift i left you!’

    also, that last paragraph left me unexpectedly teary. i like to watch our 4 yr old and toddler interact with our dog, too, thinking and hoping that they’ll remember her fondly. she’s only 7 now, and i’ve convinced myself that she’ll reach at least…oh…50 years old. right? right.

  • Jodi T.

    2014/04/03 at 12:56 pm

    I wish you had written this post about 2 weeks ago… We are in the midst of PUPPY. She’s a blue heeler and homegirl is CRAYZEEEEE. Everytime I look at her, I think, Heather warned us about herding dogs.. WHY DIDN”T I LISTEN!?!?!?!? Do you know how many times I have almost died because she gets tangled up in my legs while I am walking?

  • Lucy

    2014/04/03 at 12:58 pm

    Dogs are worse than babies! I was up all night with my three year old dog who kept coughing and licking and had a bout of stomach ailments but was perfectly fine when it was time to go to the vet today. My eight year old dog has gotten so crotchety that if she doesn’t get a walk she vomits next to my bed. Lovely.

  • Allyssa Wheaton-Rodriguez

    2014/04/03 at 12:59 pm

    I loved this…literally LOL’d. Puppies ARE horrible, and 4yos are hilarious.

  • P.

    2014/04/03 at 1:14 pm

    Too funny! That reminded me of the Red Green Show “Word Game.”

  • Marianne

    2014/04/03 at 1:17 pm

    The best we’ve found (which also cured awful, awful poo) is Purina Fortiflora. We’ve tried others, and dammit Purina just did the best job. We were just praising it on this morning’s walk.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/03 at 1:29 pm

    People who say that dogs don’t keep score, that they don’t get vengeful? They don’t live with our dogs.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2014/04/03 at 1:29 pm


  • Jodi T.

    2014/04/03 at 1:42 pm

    Oh great!!!

  • Kate

    2014/04/03 at 1:56 pm

    Yes! My dog will happily sit in a nauseating green haze of rotten egg stenchl, but if there’s the tiniest little squeak involved, he will whip around and look at his butt with a very, very concerned expression and will get up and move.

  • KC

    2014/04/03 at 2:07 pm

    This reminded me of my high school boyfriends family dog. That dog had the worst smelling farts of all time. He used to always come down the basement when we where down there watching movies (i.e. making out), and would come right up to us and fart away. Talk about mood killer, probably the best birth control ever! Oh, and I always just loved when Snuffy (the dog) would let one rip, and my boyfriends dad would look at me and in a very exaggerated, shocked voice say my name. I could just feel my face turn fifty shades of red as the whole family would all turn and look at me.

  • Stephanie

    2014/04/03 at 2:23 pm

    We give our Dreat Dane a spoonful of plain yogurt with his kibble. If we don’t… farts! I don’t know why it works, but it does. Now, that being said if we give our lab a spoonful of yogurt it’s farts for days, so who knows.

  • Mommiebear2

    2014/04/03 at 2:34 pm

    Too funny!!!

  • Nicole

    2014/04/03 at 2:45 pm

    “Marlo,” I said trying to muffle my laughter. “What do you do at a green light?”

    She put her index finger to her mouth for just a second and then turned to the dogs again: “DRIVE YOUR CAR!”

    I lost it at that one. You’re a commercial for how adults should teach their children by example when it’s time for them to learn how to drive.

  • Cassie sue

    2014/04/03 at 2:47 pm

    Great post, I was laughing SO hard!!
    My dog has a sensitive tummy too (lucky me) which usually started with farting and turned into throwing up (even luckier!). The vet had us switch to Science Diet Sensitive Stomach because she said some dogs just have very finicky systems. And my dog has since been fantastic. I don’t own stock or anything in the brand, but it works great with her farting/throwing up/being disgusting issues and we’ve been a happy household ever since.

  • Beth

    2014/04/03 at 2:51 pm

    Would it have killed you to write that part about puppies six months ago?! And, our puppy’s farts are dis-gust-ing. Are you telling me they are going to get worse? Gah.

  • grad.nauseam

    2014/04/03 at 3:05 pm

    When we adopted a second dog, I was adamantly against getting another puppy, so we went with a 3 year old with some “special needs”. From the very first day we brought her home, just the security in knowing that, despite being out of my sight, she wasn’t peeing or chewing on anything was well worth all the vet bills we have incurred in the past 2 years to deal with her health issues.

  • Heidi

    2014/04/03 at 3:14 pm

    Ok, trying to swallow my laughter in a quiet office at work – not working. This post had me both clenching my teeth trying not to laugh while tearing up. The dog I grew up with, I had picked out when I was 3 years old. 1/2 border collie, 1/2 blue heeler. Everyone who knew us, knew Pepper the dog. Spritely fellow. He died when I was 21. I’m 32 now and still not quite over it. These pets who drive us SO CRAZY are really the best, especially combined with kids. Also, Marlo is a hoot. Love that kid…

  • Jeanie

    2014/04/03 at 3:33 pm

    I love that story! I just bought an eight-week-old labradoodle on Saturday. He already knows his name (Oliver) and comes when called and is quickly getting the hang of going potty outside. Wish me luck!

  • Debra

    2014/04/03 at 3:56 pm

    Dude, you’re no longer typing with a lysp? I gotta know. Did some wicked awful person (unless of course it was you!) correct her lysp? Please. Please. I have to adjust my fantasies.

  • Kristhegirl

    2014/04/03 at 4:01 pm


  • Ali

    2014/04/03 at 4:29 pm

    Our gerbil died two weeks ago which was my 9yo’s first brush with death. I was doing pretty well providing consolation before it dawned on him that this means our 15yo Lhasa will die one day soon. As soon as he said, “but what if Muddog dies next?”, I lost it and had to tap out in favor of his more rational father.

    So going to get myself a script for Xanax when that happens. Also taking volunteers to support me and the kids on that day.

  • Jezebel Smith

    2014/04/03 at 4:47 pm

    My beagles have had problems with ear infections. The vets we saw insisted it was a food allergy, and at one point they had us feed them pinto beans and yams, the two foods they were least likely to be allergic to. The dogs loved it, and it wasn’t an issue until one time I ran out of yams and just fed the dogs pinto beans. The female beagle was stretching her way off of the couch when she audibly tooted. It scared her so badly she slunk into the bedroom and hid under the bed while I laughed my butt off.

  • August

    2014/04/03 at 5:03 pm

    I am a dooce and dog lover, but…. Am I the only one tripping out because you let your dogs lick your cooking pans??!

  • LA

    2014/04/03 at 5:23 pm

    It’s probably safe to assume that Heather washes her pans after the dogs lick them. Heck, I bet she washes them even when the dogs DON’T lick them…

  • edenland

    2014/04/03 at 9:04 pm

    We got a puppy a few weeks ago. Just this morning I realised, and said to my husband, “Why the FUCK did you get another baby??!”

    Heather this post made me laugh so hard. Then cry because I was laughing. I haven’t laughed in such a long time I’d forgotten what it felt like. Thanks.

  • Teal

    2014/04/03 at 9:40 pm

    It’s the puppy formula dog food, I’m tellin’ ya! Once you can switch your dog to an adult food, the farts should not be as bad. Hopefully.

  • Teal

    2014/04/03 at 9:41 pm

    Do you have a pug or a bulldog? Both of those breeds tend to have sensitive stomachs.

  • debra

    2014/04/03 at 9:45 pm

    Lisp. ‘thats funny

  • Blu

    2014/04/03 at 9:46 pm

    When my brother’s dog farts, he actually stops what he’s doing, lifts his head, sniffs the air, then looks at us like, “Yeah. That was me. Wanna do something about it?

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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