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Poopy Pinkie

4 Feb
Butt covers for dogs to protect those fingers!

Maybe Gretzky can wear one of these butt covers next time. (find them at etsy!)

Recently my dog Gretzky was diagnosed with Cushings Disease.  Don’t start crying or anything—it’s totally treatable and he will be fine.  But we didn’t know that two weeks ago when I took both the dog and my four-year-old to the veterinary specialist exam that would determine whether or not he had the more vicious form of the disease caused by cancerous tumors on the adrenal glands.  This was a serious vet visit, so I had read my daughter the riot act while we awaited the arrival of the vet in the exam room.

“Mommy needs to talk with the doctor about Gretzky.  This is very important for his health.  I need to listen to him very carefully because Mommy and Daddy are going to have to make decisions that will help him and I need all the information Gretzky’s doctor will give me to make those decisions.  Do you understand?”

“I should be quiet,” little Phoebe answered.

“Yes.  Do not interrupt unless it is an absolute emergency.”

“Like having to poop right away or if I’m sick?”

“Yes, Phoebe.  Those count as emergencies.  But you’re not sick and you pooped this morning, so I think you’ll be able to sit quietly.”

The vet arrived on the scene and checked Gretzky out—thoroughly.  This included a generous dose of lube for my poor dog’s ass and an invasive rectal exam.  I felt so bad for the pup that I forgot to ask why the procedure was even necessary.

The vet droned on about the need for an ultrasound and the possibility of tumors and the risks of surgery.  About ten minutes into his diatribe my daughter tugged at my sleeve with that special brand of annoying notorious among children.

“Mommy, Mommy,” she hissed in her version of a whisper that always precludes any real hope for privacy.  “I have an emergency.”

“Do you need to puke?”  I asked this in a tone devoid of sympathy but ramped up in the scolding department.

Phoebe shook her head no.

“Do you need to use the bathroom urgently?”

Phoebe shook her head no.

“Then whatever you need to say can wait.”  I turned to the vet, “I am so sorry.  Please continue.”

And he did.  And so did Phoebe’s interruptions.  She tried patting my knee gently and hissing my first name when ‘Mommy’ wasn’t eliciting so much as a glance from me.

Then she resorted to making noises.  She emitted low groans that sounded like she was either trying to hold in an explosive fart or was inhaling the consequences of one.

The vet and I ignored her and continued to discuss Gretzky’s fate.  This was difficult as the progression of noises grew stranger, mostly resembling an ancient door creaking on its hinges while being opened one excruciating millimeter at a time.

By the time the vet left the room, I was fuming.

“Okay Phoebe.  What was so important that you needed to be so rude for the past forty minutes?”

She held up the pinky of her right hand.  “The reason I was interrupting is because Gretzky backed into me while you guys were talking and my pinky got stuck in his butt.  It was in there for a long time.  His butt is really wet and disgusting today.  Anyway, I got it out without you.  Can I go wash my finger?”

I was speechless.  Incredulous.  The dog just sat there wagging his tail—no longer suffering from unsolicited anal probing.  Phoebe’s finger was coated in a dubious slime tinged with what Crayola might have dubbed ‘burnt sienna.’

My stomach churned a bit and I cupped my mouth with my hand, but my disgust quickly dissolved into a fit of laughter that my daughter participated in for a good four minutes.

But then we went and washed that pinky.  And then washed it again.

Poop Magnet

24 Feb

Stepping on poopMy husband is a kind and gentle man.  Most of the time.  Perhaps because he can be so patient, he is entitled to his quarterly meltdowns. 

The walls of our house bear the scars of my husband’s past tantrums.  A scratch in the hallway commemorates the Cracked-Vacuum-Attachment-Incident of 2005, which prompted him to bang said attachment on the floor, sending yet another cracked piece of the attachment flying into the wall.  A dark smudge ten inches up from the floor in the bedroom marks the fight he had with a roller duffle that busted a wheel after only three uses. 

Without a doubt, the king of all tantrums was triggered by our dog, Gretzky.  When the mutt decided to take off for the neighboring woods one sunny afternoon, my husband lost his ever-lovin’ mind. 

“You know what?” he shrieked in the middle of the street with his fists pumping in the air like he was at a rally. 

I didn’t want to ask what.  I waited in silence for the inevitable freak-out promised by my husband’s wild-eyed look reminiscent of Chevy Chase’s infamous “Merry Christmas!  Holy shit!”

And I wasn’t disappointed.

“F#*k him! We just don’t have a dog anymore!”

I looked around the neighborhood to see if there were children present.  Thankfully there were not.

“Now, Brendon, honey.  I know you’re pissed, but we have to go look for him.  He might get hit by a car.”

“No!”  Brendon flailed around like his was winding up to pitch with both arms.  “He ran away!  He doesn’t know how good he has it.  We feed him.  We take him for walks.  And this is how he repays us?”  And with that, Brendon turned on his heel and marched home.

Five minutes later, however, he returned with the car and we looked for our dog together until we found him. 

In addition to broken appliances and runaway canines, the thing that pisses my husband off more than anything else, is stepping in dog shit.  Unfortunately, the universe has gotten this memo, and in an effort to provide him ample situations in which to practice more acceptance and patience….. well let’s just say he is a poop magnet.  As you know, I find poop hilarious.  Additionally, knowing that it is inappropriate and unproductive to laugh, only makes me want to laugh more.  It is an incredible exercise in restraint every time I see Brendon step in yet another steaming fresh pile of crap.

The poop finds him wherever we are.  Parking lots, rest areas, parks, beaches, even our own backyard.  When it happens, I stifle my laughter and offer sticks, pocketknives, bleach wipes, napkins and other shit-removal devices.  Brendon’s over-the-top reactions to these incidents force me to adopt the veneer of zen-like composure.  Underneath, I’m on the verge of erupting into hysterics. But I do what I can.

On a car trip up to New York last summer, Brendon stepped in dog crap while stretching at a gas station.  The ensuing meltdown was epic.  And hilarious. 

“Oh just great!  It’s going to take all freakin’ day to scoop this shit out of my shoes!  I’ve had these shoes for what?  A month?  This ALWAYS happens to me! Now we’re going to end up spending money on a hotel room because it’s going to take forever to get this shit out!”

Needless to say, it only took fifteen minutes to clean out the shoe, and we did not incur the cost of a hotel room. 

Our daughter, Phoebe, has been sheltered from these shit-storms, as I offer the cleaning implements to my husband and then take Phoebe for a nice long walk while, “Daddy cleans up the poopy.” 

Last week, on a perfect spring day that I wanted to bottle, my daughter and I walked around a lake and discussed the glorious weather.  We headed back to the car through an open field.  Acres stretched in front of us.  In her brand new white sneakers she was wearing for the first time, in all that open space, my daughter found the one lone pile of dog shit.  What were the odds?  I decided then and there, that being a poop magnet must be a genetic trait.  The oddest proclivities creep their way into our DNA like little time bombs. I waited to see if my little darling would also suffer from the “shit-happens-to-me-meltdown.” 

“Mommy, I think I stepped in dog poop.  Why didn’t the owner clean up the poop like you do for Gretzky?” 

Thank the Lord!  We were going to have a calm and rational discussion.  Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t excited about cleaning the crap out of my daughter’s new shoes.  But I’ll take shit over a shit-storm any day.

Love Stinks

14 Feb


“It smells like shit in here.”

This is never what you want to hear first thing in the morning. My husband, Brendon, had just arrived in the kitchen.

“Where’s the dog?” I asked.

“Gretzky!” Brendon called.

Gretzky was hiding. Not a good sign.

“He took a dump in his bed,” I announced with genuine incredulity.

“Oh, no. Why would he do that? Why didn’t he wake us up?”

“I think I have an idea,” I said, a little ashamed.

Some pet owners think their animals are capable of extraordinary loyalty and understanding. I am definitely in this category. When my daughter was only three months old she had a fever that spiked without warning in the middle of the night. Well, it was without warning to me- a mere human with limited olfactory capabilities. My dog, Gretzky, had been sniffing at the infant, licking her profusely and pacing back and forth between the baby and me for the previous twenty-four hours. Gretzky had even fallen asleep in front of the baby’s nursery door, something he had never done before. The dog always slept on the floor of the master bedroom.

I had paid no attention to the dog. He had tried to tell me, but I thought he was merely being annoying. Despite my oblivion, Gretzky had been attempting the proverbial Lassie routine (Come on everyone. Follow me. Timmy’s trapped in the well), but to no avail. Our little girl woke up wailing at three in the morning with a high fever, and the dog was already waiting crib-side with hound dog eyes that said I told you so. Needless to say, I felt terrible for having dismissed his doggy clues. I don’t relay this story so that you will understand when I dress my dog up like Superman for Halloween. Just know that he is sensitive and in tune with our family and their physical and emotional well-being.

My husband is my best friend and we rarely argue. I’m not trying to be corny or gushing. It’s a fact. When we do argue it is generally a heated discussion with no yelling, some emotionally charged rants punctuated by uncomfortable silences, followed by much needed and deserved apologies. Then life goes on. That really is it. We never go to bed angry. Except that one time.

Most couples have that one fight that was a real doozey. Our doozey is actually comical in retrospect, but at the time it seemed so serious. There were even real tears. Basically it involved my husband’s aversion to giving a kid extra vitamins and my belief in doing exactly that during flu season. Then, in the middle of the debate, I chuckled to myself that we were arguing about vitamins.

Rule of couples fighting #1- Don’t laugh until the other party is at least cracking a smile.

So, I broke the rule and the whole day sucked. For my husband. But I thought we had moved on. After all, I already found the whole thing mildly entertaining. Yeah… um. See Rule #1. We entertained for dinner that night in our home, and I thought the remainder of the day and evening had been salvaged without a hitch. Until the buffer of company left. Apparently, the Vitamin War was still on.

Thinking the whole thing absurd, I resolved not to give hubby the satisfaction of an unwarranted apology or grace him with my presence. After we put our daughter to bed, I grabbed a book and headed upstairs, leaving him to lounge in front of the TV by himself. I pretended to read for about an hour. Then two hours. Then three. No footfalls on the stairs coming up to apologize or talk. Fine. I can wait. Then the TV clicked off and he went to bed. Fine. I fell asleep upstairs.

The dog was utterly confused. For the hours Brendon and I were giving one another the silent treatment, Gretzky was in crisis. The poor pooch paced back and forth, whining. He trotted up and down the stairs trying to find a spot to rest that wasn’t tainted by tension. I awoke at five in the morning and made my way downstairs to the bedroom. Gretzky was nowhere to be found.

Without saying ‘good morning,’ my husband got out of bed at eight and wandered into the kitchen. When I heard his shitty announcement, I leapt out of bed and followed him.

“So why do you think he shit his bed?” My husband really didn’t get it.

“He was upset that Mommy and Daddy were fighting. He didn’t even know where to sleep last night.”

“Oh.”

And then we made eye contact and smiled.

“I’m sorry,” we overlapped each other.

“See, Gretzky. Mommy and Daddy love each other.” Brendon made a big show of grabbing my ass and kissing my lips. Then we kissed and hugged in earnest. Then we helped one another clean up the dog shit. And that, my friends, is marriage.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Strange Days Indeed

2 Feb

My daughter is three now, but sometimes I just stare at her in disbelief across the breakfast table.  There is a person there, where before there was no person.  She grew in my belly like a science project.  And now she talks to us.  Some days it’s as if she’s been living in our house for always, other days she seems miraculous.  Sometimes it’s just weird.  The truth about parenting is that nothing can prepare you for just how weird it can be. 

The things kids say and the things they make you say….It’s all just unexpected and unpredictable.  Living with a three-year-old is a lot like living with a drunk midget.  They’re tiny, loud and demanding.  And there’s the occasional puddle of puke and random dump on the floor.  You never know what the day will bring.

Before I was a mom, I’d see stories on the news about terrible things happening to kids and I would be very judgmental. Not anymore.  When I have to go to the bathroom and my toddler is playing quietly, I think to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen in the two minutes I’ll be in the other room?”

Well, the kid could catch on fire or end up unconscious and bald sprawled out next to the electrical outlet with a fork in one hand.  But that’s not what I think about when I am desperate for a quiet dump alone without my drunken midget audience smacking my knees and asking why poop smells so awful.  All I am thinking is, “Victory is mine!  I can shit in peace and the little bugger won’t even know I’m gone.” 

Several months ago, I had such an opportunity for a private poop while my daughter was completely lost in her watercolor painting.  When I returned from the bathroom, the dog was walking around the house with a pencil hanging out of his ass.  

“What happened here?” I asked my little midget.    

All I got was a blank stare and a meek “I dunno.” 

Sometimes bad stuff happens and I’m right there, powerless to stop the onslaught of bruises or the soiling of clean clothes.  The very next day after the pencil-in-dog-ass incident, my daughter was eating at the table with no pants on.  I don’t know what she did with them.  Just when I was going to ask her what she did with them, she burst out, bright as sunshine, “Mommy I just had a wet fart.”

“What do you mean?” 

She sat up and announced, “Look at it Mommy.  It looks like a little slug.” 

It did.  There was a poop slug curled up peacefully on the kitchen chair. I scooped up my daughter roughly and ran to the bathroom, because another ‘slug’ was in the process of escaping her ass.

When I returned to the kitchen, intent on disposing of the wet-fart-poop-slug, my bleach wipes were met with an empty chair.  Genuinely perplexed, I stood there examining the other, equally empty, kitchen chairs. 

“There was poop here twenty seconds ago,” I mused aloud to nobody in particular but the dog. 

The dog who stared at me, licking his lips. 

“Oh, no!”  I shouted. 

His response was to merely lick his lips again and wag his tail, alternating his gaze from me to the kitchen chair as if to say, “Yeah, yeah. Give me another one of those poop slug snacks.”

My first instinct was to reprimand the dog, but then I spotted tiny little shit crumb he had left behind and said, “There you go buddy you missed a spot.” 

And then I laughed until my cheeks burned and my abs ached.  Not just because my dog ate my daughter’s shit, or because just the day before my daughter had shoved a pencil into the dog’s ass. It was because John Lennon was speaking to me through the radio.  Normally when Lennon “speaks” to me through the radio it is some poignant reminder of the simple necessity of peace, but not that day.  That day he seemed to speak to me about the wonderful weirdness of parenthood: the drunken midgets, the poop slugs, the poop-eating puppies; all of it.

“Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed.  Most peculiar Momma.” 

Amen.

Pet Peeves

21 Nov

What do roofing nails, a ten dollar bill, a tampon, a rubber ducky and human hair all have in common?  They’re all items that our Twitter followers and Facebook fans have found in their pets’ feces. 

The pieces of bird, mole and squirrel I regularly discover in my dog’s scat make me feel like I’m filming an episode of National Geographic Explorer.  My three-year-old, Phoebe, and I take a daily survey of our yard.   Phoebe will dutifully peruse the grass and then point excitedly at a turd and exclaim, “Look Mommy, Gretzky ate a bird.  There’s a beak!”  I take pride in my daughter’s powers of deductive reasoning as well as my dog’s amazing hunting abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, Gretzky’s crap isn’t always met with a sense of childhood wonder and maternal pride.  The dog has made some poor choices over the years that we have paid for dearly.  Just a few weeks ago the canine decided to revisit a mole carcass he had ferreted away under our deck.  The maggot-infested meal hit him hard sometime in the middle of the night. Seeking to prolong discovery, Gretzky squatted indoors in an undisclosed location.  Undisclosed, until the following night. 

On the phone with a friend who was in the throes of a bitter divorce, I walked up the stairs to the only second-story room in our house.  Two days earlier, Phoebe and I had completed a giant dinosaur puzzle on the floor and left it there to decorate the room like an area rug.  Apparently the myriad bushes, trees and grass that graced the dinosaurs’ landscape enticed Gretzky into taking a dump only fit for the outdoors. 

Forever the multi-tasker, I listened to my friend while putting the puzzle away in its box.  One of the puzzle pieces was covered in a brown-green slime.  I looked up.  There were six little piles of shit in various nooks and crannies of the room.  The expletives I shrieked upset my poor friend.  No matter how much I apologized, I could tell he was a little peeved that I was cleaning up dog shit while he told the crushing story of how his wife had left him.  Gretzky just whined and stood there with his tail between his legs.  He felt bad, but I was pissed off that he had no hands to lend to the clean-up.

Perhaps the most embarrassing Gretzky crap was the one he took on our first walk with him five years ago.  Glowing with domestic bliss, my husband and I walked the pooch we had only owned for two days.  In those short forty-eight hours, however, Gretzky had managed to ingest one of my hairs.  One of my very long hairs.   

Whatever he had eaten along with the hair produced a tiny little nugget which, judging from the dog’s violently shaking hindquarters, had the consistency of cement.  The poor guy just crouched there in the grass, looking up at us with sad hound dog eyes that pleaded, “Help me.”

Then my husband and I saw something impossible.  The turd was suspended in midair between Gretzky’s ass and the ground.  No, wait.  The butt nugget was dangling from a very long strand of my hair.  His hind legs continued to convulse, and he started to whine.

“This is pathetic.  He needs help getting it out,” my husband said.  “Not it.”

“What the hell do you mean? ‘Not it.’  This isn’t elementary school, man.  You can’t just opt out of parental responsibilities by shouting something you say during Tag.”

“All I’m saying is, my hair is not that long.”

Damnit.  He had an excellent point. 

The plastic bag originally intended to pick up the poop became a makeshift glove I used to cover my hand while I pulled my own hair out of the dog’s ass.

Whoosh!

Yes, folks.  It actually made a noise.  I had no idea the hair would serve as a ripcord for dispatching the foulest lump of shit I have ever encountered.   It was green and riddled with an assortment of berries, grass and bird beaks.   I was simultaneously revolted and amazed.  My husband was doubled over in laughter, a fact which inspired me to reserve his ‘Not It’ routine for a later date.   

I saved my ‘Not It’ for a baby diaper so foul I actually suspect, however irrationally, that Gretzky had something to do with it.


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