Dog Owner’s Misnomer
(Note: If you’re here to read about Costa Rica it might be wise to move on, for this is not about that. It’s about dog poop—something I felt needed to be said. As a consequence of and befitting the subject the language may be, in some cases, offensive to the squeamish. I figure if you’re curious enough to read about dog poop you’re okay with certain “colorful” descriptors, but if that’s not the case you can choose a replacement word for s**t from the following list:
Additionally, if you don’t like the verbiage “…take a s**t,” please consider using in your mind one of the following substitutes:
…pinch a loaf
…drop a log
Thanks for your participation, though you may have regrets. (Author not responsible for lasting trauma in the form of recurring visuals.))
Babe and I have had, all together, five cats over a span of 22 years. In all that time I think I’ve seen one take a shit maybe twice. I’ve watched them go in the box, but its obscured such that I don’t have to see the actual excrement coming out of… you know. All I see is their head, and how they flatten their ears when they push—seemingly annoyed with the process. And the little “ah” look when the deed is done. It’s all very civilized. Not so with dogs.
Our friends (John and Brando) have gone to Europe for three weeks and we’re staying in their villa, minding the two dogs (Toby and Chloe). For Babe and me, this is a chance to live indoors for a while—where there’s a tile shower, a real kitchen with an oven, and a toilet that isn’t a bucket over a shithole crawling with… whatever the fuck they are. You know, a “real” place that’s not a “dump.” That was the motivating factor when we agreed to watch the dogs.
“Yeah sure, whatever,” I think we said about the dogs. “No hay problema! We love dogs!” And for the record, we do. We just prefer cats. They’re less trouble in every regard—including repair and operating costs. They require less maintenance, generally. Plus, you don’t have to “take them for a walk.” Therein lies the dog owner’s misnomer. We’re not taking them for a walk. We’re actually going to make sure shit comes out of them some place other than the upstairs bedroom.
“Someone pooped all over the floor upstairs,” Babe told me one sunny morning.
I responded quickly. “It wasn’t me,” I said, backing out the front door.
And later, “Someone pooped all over the upstairs again.”
Babe knows I never touch warm bodily ejections. If a hairball lands on the floor I leave it there until it’s room temp before picking it up.
“I guess we have to walk them more,” I decided.
“Ya think?” she said (not really a question), as she headed upstairs with a roll of flimsy paper towels.
So this is how it goes approximately every four hours:
“Hey, you guys wanna go for a walk?” What I’m really asking here is: “Hey, you guys wanna take a shit someplace other than upstairs?” but they don’t get that. To them it’s just a walk.
Attach leashes. “Okay, vamos!” They’re all smiles and wiggles as they fly out the door, yanking me behind them. “Please don’t pee on my tires,” I beg.
They pull, they stop and sniff, they pee a little, and I’m obligated to watch all of it. I have to make sure they shit, see, so I’m forced to look directly at that scrunched up brown hole. And they can’t shit on the leash, so I have to watch out for that, too. The young Chloe is what Babe calls a “leash dufus,” since the thing is mostly lodged between her legs like a thong. If the pup walks a little bowl-legged, that’s probably why.
Eventually, after repeated false alarms of stop and go inspections for no apparent reason, they arch their back and assume the squat position. I have to quickly move the leash, but not so as to disturb the procedure, and I have to watch in order to make sure the shit looks normal and is a healthy size, shape and color. At night I shine a spotlight on the whole production, giving it a showcase sense of importance and a theatrical flavor. It’s all very dramatic and more than slightly disturbing.
Then, of course, it’s time for the unveiling of the matter. Lump after lump, the stuff is squeezed out of the tube we call “dog” like Tootsie Rolls coming out of a meat grinder. I’ve noticed there are varying speeds to this evacuation, but that’s not important. What’s important to realize is that I’ve noted the varying rates. I can tell the difference between a “casual” shit and a hurried one. What does that say about me? It says I’m an experienced shit-watcher, that’s what. The point is, I could care less about how they walk but I’m intimate with the gushy details of their bodily ejections. In other words, I’m not taking them for a walk, I’m inspecting the shit process. “Walking the dog” is only a polite euphemism for “watching the shit.”
All that being said, I’d like to fess up and offer my apology to my neighbors for not picking up either Toby or Chloe’s steaming piles. (As noted above, I don’t touch the warm stuff.) But I can assure you this practice will cease as of this Thursday, when John and Brando retake possession of their dogs. In the meantime, watch your step.*
*(I know what some of you may be thinking: Why not carry a shovel and bury it where it lies, you disgusting excuse for a neighbor? To which I say, you’re talking about a hand trowel, right? There’s no way I’m supporting a full-blown shovel along with the leash, an umbrella and a travel cup of Irish coffee on the shit inspection (let’s call it what it is). How could I smoke? And if you think I’m walking by a dozen Tico workers with a little white dog and a hand shovel you don’t know that I’m a cat person, and that these are not my dogs. The derision, however good-natured, would be unbearable! So I’m sorry, but no. You’ll have to mind your step until it rains.)