The Dog, the Universe, and Me

With Amy Burker’s post on becoming the “Poop Fairy,” there’s been a raft of posts and comments in the blogiverse about a dog person’s favorite topic: poop. The following guest post by my husband Michael will give you a new perspective on the poop that’s been left behind.

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The Dog, the Universe, and Me

Introduction

This is not a story about walking a dog. Rather, it is a story about caring too much what strangers think, and about trying what should not be tried.

However, it is a story that involves walking a dog.

The dog, whose name was Domino, was one of those sweet, sociable Staffordshire mixes that virtually begs you to draw a ring around one eye in white chalk and cast her as Pete’s girlfriend in a Little Rascals film.

So you say, but does she have star quality?

Situation

My wife and I had agreed to keep her at our home during a winter weekend while a friend was traveling. Domino had not been trained to keep a loose leash on walks, and managing the energetic youngster in transit was like trying to tie off a tugboat still under power. So my wife and I decided I would handle her. That is, my wife decided, and I agreed. That is, I chose not to argue.

Having been dragged through much of the neighborhood during the dog’s morning walk, I decided to make her second trip of the day a modest affair–just a quick stroll around the block on a warming winter afternoon, the kind where remnants of the last snowfall lay in thinning patches of coarse, icy crystal on lawns and berms, and the sidewalks themselves are almost (but not quite completely) clear and dry.

By the time Domino had pulled me to the end of the first street, I realized I had forgotten to bring a clean-up bag. But she had relieved herself earlier that day, so the dog and I decided to keep going.
That is, the dog decided, and I agreed. That is, I couldn’t drag her back.

Domino pulled me down the second street. She pulled me past trees, cars and a fire hydrant. She pulled me around the corner. She pulled me up the third street.

Just before the end of the third street, the dog stopped pulling, stepped purposefully off the sidewalk onto the berm, and pooped.

Of course. That’s what dogs do on walks.

“OK,” I said to myself, “this is not a crisis, it’s an inconvenience.” We were just a little over a block from our house, so I could take Domino home, come back right away with a clean-up bag, and do the right thing.

But then a car pulled up and began to park right in front of us. “OK,” I said to myself, “now this is a crisis.” After all, I didn’t want to be seen walking away from the poop.

This is a story about caring too much what strangers think.

Sometimes, I like to try my master’s patience. . . and I don’t care too much what he thinks, even though he is strange.

Inspiration

My first instinct was to go up to the car and knock on the window and explain to the driver that my dog had just pooped on the berm and it was going to look as if I were walking away without cleaning it up but it was OK because I’d be right back with a clean-up bag and I would give the driver my wallet as collateral if she didn’t believe me.

But I decided against that, because another idea had already come together in my head. An idea that should not be tried. An idea whose strange appeal was precisely that it should not be tried.

This is a story about trying what should not be tried.

Proposition

Very simply, I had poop. And I had. . . snow.

So, rather than leave the poop there, I chose to make for myself a carryout container of sorts: a snowball with a poop center, like the world’s worst Tootsie Roll Pop.

The few ice crystals I could scrape together were barely enough for cover and made poor packing besides, and I realized the dubious object would fall apart under the slightest pressure. “So,” I said to myself, “I obviously have no choice but to cup it very gingerly in my hand.” And Domino and I turned the corner onto the last street.

Incidentally, this is also a story about the Universe. (Did I mention that? If you check the title, you’ll see I mentioned that.)

Refutation

We were coming off a patch of ice onto a clear sidewalk when I suddenly heard the Universe speak in a language it must have chosen especially for that occasion: a car coming up fast behind us, with two large, happy dogs pressing their muzzles through its partially open side window, excitedly barking at Domino as they drove by. And although the message went home directly, it was simply too late to adjust. I was already in mid-stride when Domino lunged forward, yanking the leash that was around the wrist that supported the hand that gingerly cupped the snowball.

Award-winning choreographers would have envied the fluidity of the motion that followed. Jerked off balance, my right foot slipped backward on the ice patch, the snowball jumped out of my hand and landed on the dry sidewalk in front of me, and my left foot came down on it squarely, driving a skidmark of ice and brown matter a few inches inches wide by about a foot long into the textured concrete surface.

So when we arrived home, it was not to pick up a clean-up bag, but a street broom. And to return to the scene to scrub snow and ice into the sidewalk until it was almost (but not quite completely) clean and unstained. And, finally, to shout a loud and highly complimentary blessing at the Universe for teaching me such a valuable lesson.

Capitulation

Because although it involves walking a dog, this is, ultimately, a story about the Universe. If you ignore its lessons about the dangers of trying what ought not to be tried because you care too much what strangers think, you could end up with poop on your shoes.

So listen to the lessons. Accept them with gratitude. Bestow your blessings on the Universe.

And, for Pete’s sake, just walk away.

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Comments

  1. What a great story (and lesson)!
    I experienced a similar thing just recently, although minus the little mishap. I was walking my dogs in the neighborhood a few weeks ago when Daisy pooped in someone’s yard. That’s when I realized that my decision to change pants at the last moment meant that I had left my poop bags behind.
    Frantically, I looked around for a stray bag blowing by (wouldn’t you think I would see just one?), then I looked around to see if any neighbors were outside that I could ask for a bag (nada). I was so worried what the neighbors would think. Surely they were peering out their windows and scowling at me! After searching frantically for a few seconds, I gave up. I couldn’t find a way to pick it up (no snow to make a snow cup), so I moved on with the intent of coming back when I got home and could grab a bag (or if that stray bag happened to fly by). Luckily, half way down the block I ran into my backdoor neighbor and she lent me a bag. Whew! No nasty looks from neighbors now!
    The things we do because we worry what people will think!

    • Mike Webster says:

      I suspect we dog lovers all have a bagless episode in our past. I’m just glad mine taught me once and for all to stop worrying about other people’s opinions. So, what else did you think of my story? :)

  2. Imagine there could be such a funny story behind every pile of poop we encounter? I will smile and fantasize every time I pick some up :)

    • Mike Webster says:

      My fantasies tend to run in other directions, but, hey, whatever it takes to get you through that ubiquitous and unpleasant task. . . :)

  3. Loved the story.

    I try to always have a bag with me, but sometimes *stuff happens*. Or the instance when my delightful dog decides to poop not once, but twice on her walk. Then you have the pleasure of trying to pick up the poop on the ground without losing the poop in the bag.

    We walk our dogs in the woods and unless they poop on the trail, we don’t pick it up. Poop disinegrates and there are tons of other animals that are pooping there and no-one runs around picking THAT up!

    The older I get, the less I worry about what people think of ME.

    • Mike Webster says:

      I feel your pain. I have found that the one-bag double-sequential poop pickup maneuver is way beyond the gymnastic skill level of a guy who can’t make a decent snowball out of ice and crap.

  4. Yay! The snow poop story! I remember you mentioning this ages ago and I was positive we’d never get to hear the details.

    Just hilarious and I can relate so well as this scenario has happened to me countless times. Usually after running out of bags when my dog decides she needs to go over three times on one walk. Ugh. I’ve so been there. Why do people always pull up in their cars at that exact moment? Why do I always assume they care about what I am doing? Why do I assume they even know I exist?

    All important questions.

    • Mike Webster says:

      Why? Because the Universe is watching, and because both you and It care very deeply. That’s why. :)

  5. My dog makes crumble-poos– very difficult to pick up every last bit. I have poop bags in my car, in the pocket of every jacket, in every sweater… yet every so often I manage to leave the house sans bag. And that would be the day the dog park has run out of the bags in the dispensers…

    I have a few posts on my blog regarding poop. You might enjoy this one: http://thebarkpark.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/the-cardinal-sin/, though I suspect Amy would disapprove. :( (Not only do we care too much about what the neighbours think, we care a lot about what fellow bloggers think!)

    • Mike Webster says:

      Crumble-poos? Mix your dog’s kibble ration with a tablespoon of Elmer’s Glue. (OK, that was a joke. Don’t do that.)

      Regarding The Cardinal Sin, I suspect the best approach to the missed-poop issue balance. Always be ready to forgive inadvertent sins; always be ready to confront (with proper humility) egregious sins; always be ready to encourage ourselves and others to improve our track records in avoiding both.

  6. LOL! What a great story!
    My Mom had a similar story when she was jogging with my dog on a dark winter morning. Tibby pooped and my Mom realized that the poop bag had fallen out of her pocket somewhere during the run. My Mom tried to decide on her options. Just as Tibby was finishing a car pulled up and the driver pointed its headlights at Tibby and my Mom. Hmmmm. What to do? My Mom used one of her very expensive high-tech running gloves as a poop bag. And she never lets me forget it!

    • Mike Webster says:

      Gosh, I hope Tibby had put out some very expensive high-tech dog poop to fit the occasion.

  7. Hysterical! We in the land of cacti — and no snow — have no recourse in such situations. Call us literally SOL.

  8. This was so funny I had to read it out loud to my husband. I’ve actually considered making a poop-filled snowball myself, but decided against it. Fortunately, apparently. I had no idea my Poop Fairy post would create such a stir about poop, but I’m glad it resulted in you writing this story. It was too good not to share.

  9. Mike Webster says:

    Amy, thank you for stirring the poop. I mean, the pot.

    The story, which happened in January 2011, found its epilogue in January of this year when Honey, our golden retriever, caught me once again unprepared. This time, we were surrounded by inches and inches of high-quality packable snow. And, never one to learn from past experience, I did indeed create my first successful prototype for the World’s Worst Tootsie Roll Pop, good enough to carry back to the house without drawing the Universe’s ire. . . except for those ugly, awful, damp brown spots that leached to its surface. Ewwwww.

    I’ll keep you and anyone else interested in making your own poop-filled snowballs abreast of future technical developments. That is, if I’m dumb enough to keep pursuing them.

  10. This almost makes me wish we lived in an area where we had snow.
    Almost.

    • Mike Webster says:

      I can thing of better reasons for that wish. . . like the enjoyment of removing twelve inches of heavy, moisture-laden snowfall from your sidewalks with a shovel two or three times a year.

  11. As I live in the land of the snowless, this is not something I’d have ever considered, but I did solve the poop-bag problem by getting one of the containers that clips on to Darby’s leash and holds a roll of bags inside. But on behalf of dog owners everywhere, I appreciate your diligence :)

    • Mike Webster says:

      Thank you. My next task is to get dog owners everywhere to appreciate my deep practical insight.

      Notwithstanding the wisdom of your suggestion, my record to date suggests that this will be a very steep hill to climb.

  12. Oh my gosh, too funny :) I have left my dogs leash in my husband’s car and used an alternate leash (that didn’t have bags attached) and not really noticed that I was sans bags until it was too late. Luckily, since I live in the land of rain, I just steal the closest newspaper bag . . is that wrong? I couldn’t have walked away either :) Well, at least you tried, right?

    I’m just glad you didn’t fall IN the snowball/poop!!

  13. Surely you know the rule about not eating the yellow snow. So what makes you think it’s okay to play with the brown snowballs?

    I will never, ever eat another Tootsie Pop.

    P.S. This was flipping hilarious.

  14. LOVE this post! I so relate! Why is it that whenever I forget a bag, the dogs have to poop and when I bring 3 bags, none of them poop? Or, they have VERY soft poop and picking it up makes more of a mess than leaving it there. Of course, we only leave it in overgrown fields of weeds…the very places the dogs would never poop in! OMG! Can’t wait to meet you at BlogPaws!

  15. Nothing like this has ever happened to me …. yet! Well, we don’t have snow. But so far I’ve never been caught without a bag when anyone has been watching and I’m not living in hope either!

    Great post:)

  16. The great lengths we will go to, ensuring no one judges us for looking like poop-ditchers. I love this story. :) Made me LOL, no kidding.

    I had two shirts on once…a tank top and another shirt over that. It was in a busy, judgy neighborhood when one of my dogs decided to deposit last night’s meal on someone’s yard. If there were a record playing, it would have skipped. So, I dutifully picked up the poo by removing my outer shirt and packaging it nicely within. As I was walking away, one of the neighbors was outside cleaning their yard. He said to me “That’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen anyone do!” LMAO! And here I was trying to be the anti-disgusting by carrying away my dog’s doo doo in my old shirt. Ohhhhh well….

  17. Thanks for a morning belly-laugh! I, too, think I’m far too concerned with what people think. And, for the record, I do think your poop-carrying-snowball was a fantastic idea. In theory. Sometimes those theories don’t hold water (or in this case, poop) in the real world. But good on you for trying! :)