Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why puppy poop makes me a happier person

I have to be honest; my dogs have been TERRIBLE this week. Our beloved living room couch has significant new chew holes in it, important papers and receipts have been viciously shredded to pieces, and the overriding scent of the apartment can only be described as, "Eau de dog urine." As someone who loves order, this drives me batty. Before returning home from school I can safely assume that there WILL be puppy pee and poop on the floor, all furniture is fair game for fresh chew marks, and there's always the bonus probability of puppy puke if they've ingested anything particularly exciting in my absence.

Every morning it's like a game; Aaron and I try to locate and prevent all potential furball-related incidents. All cords and appliances are stashed away. Books are tactically placed out of the "puppy district." This morning we even removed the couch cushions and stashed them safely away from puppy teeth, claws, and excrement zones. Naturally, I came home to find the box-spring of the couch demolished, its stuffing spread across the hardwood floor like freshly fallen snow. Toby (the youngest of the mischievous duo) popped his little nose out enthusiastically and panted in satisfaction at his newly created fort. Nugget (my slightly older, significantly more spastic puppy) wagged his tail, jumping up and down at my arrival. "NO!" I scolded them, "This is Bad!" Tails wagged more rapidly. "Bad. Bad bad bad." Wagwagwag. I shook my head, half in admiration, half in disgust. They did a pretty good job at destroying the apartment with the few resources they were given. Well played, young pups.

As a general part of my personality, I have a hard time staying mad at anyone. This is particularly true with my puppies. Yes, they've been ungodly destructive lately, and yes they've each gotten Giardia 2-3 times since we've gotten them, costing several hundred dollars each time we've taken them to the vet (FYI it costs $25 to get and test a stool sample. Seriously now.) But, all things considered, they're one of the great joys in my life. They can be complete boneheads about some things (they magically forget how to "sit" unless I've got a treat in my hand, and their favorite times to bark are late at night, early in the morning, and when I'm trying to study) but there are some aspects of life I think they've got figured out. They teach me invaluable lessons on life, and I'll be forever grateful for them. Of course, they teach me patience, responsibility, unconditional love...but I don't want to sound too much like an ad for "Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul" here. Today I realized the importance of puppy poop in my daily routine.

In addition to being somewhat of a clean freak and an exercise fanatic, I'm an avid studier. I wasn't always like this. My experience in the military molded me into what I like to call a "learned type-A" personality. This doesn't happen to everyone, but it certainly stuck with me. Anyway. These past few weeks I've had mid-terms in several of my classes. Additionally I've been planning and organizing things for my role as a mentor for Team in Training. Also, I'm determined to start blogging again, after some motivation from one of the inspirational figures in my life. Because I've got all these new activities on my plate, and because I'm still figuring out how to manage my time around them, I've been spending a lot of time at the computer, typing away like a madwoman. Inevitably, my puppies decide they need to pee, or poop, or sniff the grass every hour or so.

If I KNEW that they only wanted to sniff the grass, I might let them sit at the door for a while when I'm occupied with a project. But because they're still puppies and don't have great control of their bodily functions yet, I never know when that ticking time-bomb is set to go off and they're ready to release the infamous "stinky chocolate soft-serve" in the house. So I have to treat every situation like it's an emergency; clip on their leashes, rush them outside, let them sniff the grass, and wait for them to do their business. This process can take a while. Sniffing is kind of a big deal with Beagles. It's like the most fun thing they can do aside from destroying our furniture. So I stand outside with them while they smell every tree, try to eat the rocks, roll in the grass, and generally have an awesome time. I want to rush them along, but what can I do, really? Squeeze their bellies like a tube of toothpaste and stay out of the splash zone? All I can do is wait.

Which brings me to why I'm grateful to my little furry buddies. If I don't HAVE to take a break from studying, I won't. I'll just grind myself into a textbook induced oblivion, stopping when only when my brain begs me for mercy or ceases to function. When I'm standing outside, waiting for that puppy magic to happen, I remember to take the time to look up at the sky, admire the clouds, and sometimes investigate what the little guys find so interesting. I talk to them all the time, and I'm sure my neighbors think I'm crazy. They'll walk by while I'm asking important questions like, "What did you find guys? Is that a good bush to pee on? Looks good to me!" Nugget and Toby make me wonder at their endless enthusiasm for bugs, plants and interesting scents. I think we could all use a little more of that curiosity. My puppies remind me that life is seriously awesome, even the little things like tasty clumps of leaves and smelly dirt clods. They make me laugh without even trying, and I think that's the greatest gift I could ask for from these tiny little bundles of love.


  1. You should crate train them. My dog loves her kennel and I never feel bad leaving her in it. It keeps both of us safe and happy. :)

  2. My puppy (almost a year old!) doesn't love his crate, but that's where he stays if we're not home. It's easy to clean and keeps him from chewing up our blanket or throw pillows. No accidents during 9+ hour days anymore, but there are still times like Tuesday when he was taken out twice and still peed on the floor, all during the same hour (I know, I was watching Glee). He definitely likes to find his own ways to amuse himself!