Warning: This post contains graphic scatological content. Reader discretion advised.
The other night the girls and I watched an old episode of Underdog to Wonderdog, a show about pound dogs who are “fixed up” and paired with a specially-chosen adoptive family. This particular episode was a great ad for pitbulls; the featured dog was a timid, fearful product of backyard breeding who wouldn’t come out of her crate, much less go on the attack. It was Love and a Six-Foot Leash gone live.
However, the bit that got me was the “subplot” about adoption day at a local shelter. One family became enamoured of a particularly adorable pup. While cooing and oohing and ahhing, the daughter (who looked to be around the age of my Middle Child) said, “If she pees in the house, I’ll clean it up.”
I wanted to yell at the screen, “Don’t believe her for a minute!”
It’s a cliché: kids who whine, “Please, please, please let’s get a dog, I promise I’ll walk it and clean up after it and play with it and you won’t have to do ANYTHING!” And, like all clichés, it lives in the realm of well-worn truth. All kids make these promises. I’m willing to bet the number that live up their promises is less than 5%.
Take my kids. They LOVE Our Best Friend. They love to cuddle him. They love to give him treats. They do not love his poo. They hate his barf. And taking him out back do his duty is an onerous chore they fight over to avoid.
“You take him out.”
“I always take him out!”
“It’s your job– I’m the one who always empties the dishwasher!”
“I don’t want to take him– it’s raining out!”
Unfortunately, the SPCA doesn’t take children.
Last night I was overcome with exhaustion by 11:00 p.m. I retired to bed, only to be joined about five minutes later by Our Best Friend. He sat next to me and pulled me his paw, his way of saying, “Uh, I think I need to go potty here…”
“Girls!” I yelled. “I AM IN BED AND OUR BEST FRIEND NEEDS OUT!”
The Middle Child appeared. “Can I take him out front?” (This is the cheater’s version of “out”– we stand inside the house and let him in the front yard on a leash to pee.)
“He may need to poo.” (Our Best Friend, who like all dogs will lick himself in inappropriate places in front of anyone, refuses to go in the front yard.)
“Ugh! Can’t I just take him out front?”
“Fine! Take him out front!” I was too tired to argue.
TMC left. Then I hear her calling, “Where’s the extenda?” That would his “extendable leash,” which allows him to roam to his relief spot of choice, while the human on the other end remains in the comfort of the doorway.
“I don’t know,” I yelled. “Take the short leash if you have to.”
There was silence. The silence stretched. Then OBF was back. Pawing me.
“HEY!” I yelled. “Didn’t you take him out?”
“I couldn’t find the leash!”
“TAKE HIM OUT! USE ANY LEASH!”
“Okay, okay! OBF! Come!” And OBF dashed out.
I heard the back the door open. I heard all three girls on the back porch, giggling and whispering. I prayed they were letting OBF do what he needed to do.
At exactly 6:00 this morning, our bedroom door opened. Nails clicked on the wooden floor. Then I felt Our Best Friend rest his chin on the bed. He generally waits until I’m up to express his needs. This was not a good sign.
I rolled over. “What do you want?”
He turned and raced out of the room. I was ready to cry.
I dragged myself out of bed. OBF was leaping at the back door. I took his leash (the short one– no one did find the extendable), and thankful for the bushes and trees that surround the yard, went out back in my jammies. He walked straight to the hill behind the house and produced enough fertilizer to cover half the yard. Then he peed.
When my dog poops before he pees first thing in the morning, you know it was truly urgent business.
When he was done he immediately turned and went back to the house, curling up in his bed with a contented sigh. I tried to do the same, with zero success. By 7:45 I gave up. I got his leash– again– and we went for our usual morning stroll. He even pooped again.
I love Our Best Friend– I really do. I feel for a creature who has to rely on others to take him to the toilet. I do my best to make sure he doesn’t suffer in that regard. But does it always have to be me? I don’t love dog poop any more than the next person. I think it’s time I taught my girls the true meaning of dog ownership– and responsibility.