The Tao of Poo

The pressure of a brand new puppy—and its poop by Georgie Binks
For years, my routine has been the same: when I come home, I head downstairs leisurely to my office to check my e-mail and voice-mail messages. But recently, things changed. I got a puppy. Now, as I fumble with the keys at the front door, I hold my breath. I run inside, head for my new puppy’s play pen and yes! yes! yes! there is no poop inside! The day is good. Life is good. I scoop up my baby and run for outdoors. That, of course, is a description of a good day. Today has not been so good. Since this morning, I have shoveled up four indoor poops and I am feeling very depressed. After having stood outside with our West Highland terrier, Goodweather (don’t ask how he got his name, but let’s just say that the phrase ‘Bad dog, Goody’ is making us rethink it), for 20 minutes and figuring it just wasn’t in him yet, if you know what I mean, we headed back indoors. Of course I had just mopped down the puppy playpen and sprayed something that is supposed to get rid of any odour, so I freaked out when he deposited gift No. 5 on the clean floor. But then, I figure, where would I rather go? A clean hardwood floor or the grass, which is wet? Or perhaps he could have indoors and outdoors mixed up, like a baby mixing up night and day? I’m trying to see things from his point of view, get inside his head. At the same time, I’m wondering what got into mine. After 15 years of avoiding the whole dog issue, I was finally tortured into it by my children this fall. I had tried the “We’ll get one in the fall” response in the spring, and then the “We’ll get one in the spring” routine when fall would roll around, but after a couple of years, it was no longer working. I warned my kids it would be a lot of work, but they assured me they didn’t mind so I made some calls, and off we went to pick up the puppy from the breeder (a reputable breeder, of course). A week later, they looked at me wide-eyed: “We didn’t know it would be this much work.” Too late now. Or is it? After three now-solo days of dog, which of course is very cute, but lots of things are, I was seriously considering faking his death. My plan was to photograph him as he slept and show the kids the picture, claim he had died but that I hadn’t wanted them to see. Yes, that might work. Then I would bundle the dog up, take it back to the breeder and beg her to take it back. She could even keep the cheque. But whenever I pick up the darn thing, he licks me, making me feel guilty about my plot. We do have kind of a special relationship. I talk to him and he pants back at me. What I can’t stand is my variation on Waiting for Godot, which in my case is me standing in my housecoat and boots in the backyard, Waiting for ‘Dog-to-go’. The other night I thought I heard raccoons at the back, so I figured I’d better bring the dog in or they would attack him. Then again… Okay, I brought the dog in where he could safely poop inside. When I had kids, people would say to me, “They grow up so fast.” Now that I have a pup, my buddies keep saying, “It’s like having a baby forever.” But they also comfort me with “That puppy phase drives you crazy,” which I take to mean, this too shall pass. (I just wish he would pass outdoors.) We have a routine going now. We take the dog out to the backyard to do his business, which he doesn’t. We then come back in, put him in his playpen and then he goes. Then he barks to notify us of what has happened and we clean it up. Who is being trained? I wonder. I vacillate between loving this little dog like crazy because he is so cute and the terror of being trapped with him years after the kids are in university, and picking up poop forever. When I get the second emotion, I force myself to remember a dog I knew a long time ago: a beautiful grey standard French poodle I grew up with called Julie. I loved her so much I called my daughter after her. I don’t know if any of my grandchildren will ever bear the name Goodweather. But hey, it just might make a neat middle name.