Taking Care of Business

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!”

“Too bad!”

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…”


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!”


“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.


About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
This entry was posted in children, Dog behaviour, Dogs, pet ownership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Taking Care of Business

  1. i’ve been catching up on some of your old posts. this one had me laughing and crying because it’s all too familiar. though i don’t have children, the same scene plays out between The Man and myself.

    i have to say, i’ve started to believe that women [grown up ones at least], are genetically engineered to hear whimpering and frantic scrabbling better than men. we understand the little nuances of desperation [even among our best friends]. and dutifully do what must be done.

    is it because we’re so caring? personally, i just don’t want to be confronted by pee puddles in the kitchen or poop on the carpet which I know I will have to clean.

    one day, your girls will no doubt get it. i think that’s called “karma” :p

    • I am in the midst of reading your last post– talk about karma!

      It’s interesting that the dog doesn’t even attempt to wake the Spouse– he just comes straight to me. And when I was out of town for 36 hours a few months ago, he developed diarrhea that cleared up as soon as I came back. Talk about stress!

  2. Edie says:

    Ha — I always thought that it would be nice to have someone else to share doggie duties with but knowing that I would probably end up doing it anyway and just add the element of resentment makes me feel better. I often have the opposite problem though — I have to coax Frankie to go out at night knowing if he doesn’t he’ll wake me up at an (even more) ungodly hour.

  3. chesshirecat says:

    your humor is always a welcome respite from the chore of doggie doodle poo woes. Yes, my doggie loves when his dad takes him out, which is often. BUT…he won’t poop for dad! (Only the morning walk will he poop for dad.) He insists I be the one who takes him after lunch and dinner. He will always come to me when it’s doo-py time. Sigh…yeah, diaper duty? Glad he don’t wear those darn things. Although today he had a string of doopie hanging from the backside. He kept trying to sit down to get rid of it. Of course that didn’t take care of the job. I had to call inside to my Mister to please bring a paper towel so I could clean the backside of my doggers. He was grateful and kissed me when all was done. 🙂 I love my pupster… I really do.

  4. Aleksandra says:

    As always, you cracked me up. We have no kids either, but I remember this from my childhood with our cats. It was theoretically my duty to clean the litterbox. Ha. Yea right.

    You are reminding me of a funny story my mother-in-law told me a few weeks ago: when my hunny Ben and his sister were younger, their mom did the laundry and would fold their stuff and put it in their room. Their only duty was putting it away in the dresses and closets. Well, they would never do it. Mom got so fed up that she said that they were going to have to do their own laundry if they didn’t start putting clothes away in the dresser. Ben and Sara were both so stubborn, that they took the bait! For a few months, they would actually do their own laundry, just so they could avoid putting clothes away. Just imagine! Laundry takes forever, and putting folded things into drawers takes what, 2 seconds?

    • It’s my kid’s responsibility to fold their own socks and underwear. The basket can sit there from one laundry day to the next, socks and undies going from from basket to bum without ever seeing the inside of a drawer. If I made them do their own laundry, they’d wear dirty clothes.

      Still, they’re my kids, and I guess I’ll keep ’em.

  5. Bailey says:

    I think it is important to work children into the routine, but parents should always expect that they are going to be primary care takers for any pet that comes into the home. Any other assumptions are doomed to building resentment and frustration.

  6. lexy3587 says:

    haha… my dog walks into the room you’re in, stares (in silence) intently at you, and then walks to the back door… sometimes he has to do this in multiple rooms before someone notices the intense stare and realises what he’s asking, poor guy. Luckily, we’ve got a fenced back yard, so I can let him out to do his business, and deal with it later.

  7. A says:

    Obviously he has more fun with you!

  8. “Unfortunately, the SPCA does not take children …”
    The best line ever!!! When we were setting up our budgies, the kids made a chore chart. It lasted two days…

  9. thatjenk says:

    Hahahaha. Oh, I definitely promised to clean a litter box in my early teens. Then I threatened to not talk to my parents when they called my bluff on the promise. I’m still surprised they didn’t take me up on the second one, too. Did I even take the cat with me when I moved out? Nope. But I’m sure it’s cyclical, and I can just hope my future offspring (if any) at least choose pets I won’t mind taking care of.

    • You mean, pets like a lizard that eats live worms? I can hardly wait until you have kids so I can give you LOTS of unsolicited parenting advice! 😉

      I had a cat for six months (until my parents surreptitiously got rid of it). And I remember scooping the poop. Seems I’ve always been the poop police.

  10. Pamela says:

    I have no children. So of course, I’m full of unsolicited parenting advice. Oh, and I never forget to tell parents how they need to train their children just like I’d train my dog. Not. 🙂

    I loved this. The only families I’ve ever seen where the kids take any responsibility for pets are families where the pets really belong to the parents. It never seems to work then the child considers a pet “theirs.”

  11. Silverycloud says:

    Scatology. Love that word!! Will have to work it into conversation one of these days. I noticed your’re writing more these days, and though I’m not a pet lover, and obviously a minority around here. I find your writing refreshing and funny. Keep it up!

  12. Kristine says:

    What a great post! I can’t believe I missed it, especially after bugging you to write more.

    When I was a kid it was one of my chores to walk the dog, from age 12 on. If I didn’t walk her long enough my parents would yell at me to go back outside. It became part of my routine. Which may explain why I think nothing of the routine I have now with my current dog. I don’t know how they got me to do it, I never received an allowance, it was just my job. The dog was definitely my parents’ dog, so I wonder if Pamela is right on that.

    I still do all the poop scooping and barf cleaning. It never even occured to me to ask my husband to do it. He’s kind of a wuss in that sense anyway. It’s just easier to do it all myself. To be fair, he does take her out if I go to bed early.

  13. tukamann says:

    I love your writing and look forward to reading it. I love kids……..and have cats……maybe that’s why I love kids so much…..lol My cats are my responsibility and we love each other unconditionally. I rarely get upset with them and they me. And they purr……dogs don’t purr. Keep writing.

  14. The Hook says:

    You sound like a great dog owner – and parent!
    Well done!

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