The Dogwatchers

This week, Susanne and I are dog sitting. Somehow this entails dogs. And poop, and a lot of it. Actually, now that I think of it, much of these “sitting” endeavors involve poop, pooping, or conversations regarding same. It’s not so much sitting as poop management. Maybe we should have a public conversation about updating the use of “sitting” as a term because for me at least, reclining on one’s derriere to relax doesn’t happen often in these arrangements. Unless, I suppose, a toilet is involved.

Long time readers of this blog will recall my experience with a baby’s explosive offering. Nothing of the sort has transpired with these dogs, one of whom is an anxious herder, and one a saved puppy from a farm in Yakima whose entire body shakes when he wags his tail, which is constantly.

Our friends, as it happens, were scheduled to go on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera, but alas, before their departure date, the boat had a little mishap with the engine. Everyone may have heard about the ship that lingered for days with no power and no toilets. Ugh. Poop again. The cruise line generously upgraded their cruise to a tour of the Caribbean and South America. They may be snorkeling along Belize as I write this.

The waggy dog just wants to play ball, is all. He is so into the timeless game of fetch that he has no fewer than five balls, some inside the house, and some occupying bits of space on the front lawn. He’s not much of a barker, but he doesn’t need to be—he just approaches quietly and drops a green ball next to whoever is sitting on the couch. Humans are dumb creatures though, and they almost never figure out what he wants quickly enough, so he is forced to nudge the ball with his nose.

The first night Susanne held down the fort by herself, as I was still in Arkansas visiting my Mom and stepdad. The herder was dismayed that her herd had shifted appreciably from her usual group, and the ballplayer whined that his glowing green orbs sat still on the living room floor. Their world was in ruins! Their owners were never coming home! This new person was just not the same! It was a long night, even if not dark nor particularly stormy.

Now that we’re well into the week, things have settled down by many degrees. The herder has agreed to, at least on a temporary basis, sit and receive pets to her head. Game boy has gotten more than any dog’s fair share of fetching and returning, much to his delight. They still go wild at mealtime, but then again, so do I.

There is, however, a lot more involvement regarding poop than I care to include in my daily activities. Turns out the ballplayer is also—gasp—a Poop Eater. I have looked on in horror at Poop Eaters before, most notably a sweet Golden Retriever in Syracuse, New York, who could manage a look of innocence immediately preceding and after inhaling some random pile of crap. This is the same dog who would urinate on my shoes every time I came to his house, and as his owner was in the same master’s program with me, that was often. I’m pleased that humans have other ways of showing excitement at a friend’s return.

I was warned, before this latest foray into caring for another person’s pet, that the herder attempts to round up anything moving outside that she sees, including bicyclists, cars, other dogs, and small children. And the dog with a love of fetch could inhale poop like it was life-giving oxygen, so be sure to check the yard and clear it of mines before letting him out.

I had a dog once. Well, twice, actually. The former was a poodle who was my companion until fifth grade when she was hit by a car because more than anything, she loved to run into the street if anyone was near the front door. It was a constant challenge, I suppose. But though I walked her every day after school, I don’t recall picking up a single poop; it wasn’t in the instructions for dog walking. Everything was easier in the 70s, what can I say? The latter dog I had for six days before a vet put her down for distemper. So much for getting a pet at the pound.

The other thing to mention about dogs in general is that they’re licking machines. Dogs have the best sense of smell of all mammals, and humans the worst. And yet somehow dogs are capable of exuding odors that turn the stomach of this homo sapien, so what is up with that? I know not to eat crap, for god’s sake, not the least reason of which is because it smells terrible. There is just no such thing as good-smelling poop.

So forgive me if after chasing after the ballplayer to reach the poop before him, failing, and watching in horror as he gobbled it up like a Belgian truffle, I did not want to move next into having him lick me in his excitement at finding OMG POOP in his front yard. He seemed confused that I took the shape of recoiling person. I attempted to reassure him that I loved him despite his terrible affliction, but most of the ways I could interact with him involved his mouth—playing ball was right out, for the moment, of course. I took to tossing small treats at him, and then worried that I was reinforcing poop eating behavior.

Dog watching is so confusing.

Photo credit: Aldrin_Muya on Flickr

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2 Comments on “The Dogwatchers”

  1. December 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    “There is just no such thing as good-smelling poop.” I wish someone would tell this to my dog!

    • evmaroon
      December 17, 2010 at 12:51 pm #

      It would revolutionize the dog universe if they ever realized this.

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