The Tell-Tale Pup

Puppies arguably rule the world.  With sweet eyes and small, gentle kisses on your skin, they make sure you know who saved who, who walks who, etc.  Despite how furious mankind should be about puppies possessing mind-controlling powers, we let it slide.  Worse, we care for the little tots with all our hearts— so when they get sick and show their powers have been weakened, what do we do? 

We freak out and think they’re dying.

This was the predicament I faced last weekend. I was watching a friend’s dogs— one a dashing old man, the other fresh from the womb— and innocently thought it would be the best weekend of my life.  No, seriously; they’re hypoallergenic, have perfect black orbs for eyes, and are happy to play fetch and/or sit on the couch to watch TV.  With such adorable qualities, you can imagine that I went into the weekend anticipating nights of endless snuggles and soft fluff. 

How silly was I to think that a few nights with a puppy would be simple. 

It’s 1 A.M.  0100 hours.  I’m settling down for bed, and I hear a rapping, a tapping, by my chamber door.  It is the puppy, failing to escape from his crate in an effort to follow his training and not poop indoors.  I had been told earlier that day that he could sleep through the night without any accidents, so the idea of a raging fire inside his belly evades my thoughts.  As any tired and emotionally incompetent person would do, I tell the puppy to shut up.

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I try to peacefully slip away into my dreams, but they quickly turn to nightmares as the rapping and tapping inspire visions of dead people scratching through their coffins.  I have no doubt that the puppy intends for these visions to haunt me as punishment for not serving him.  With a groan of defeat, I release the beast from his cage to relieve his jitters.  Little do I realize those jitters foreshadow a dark and putrid bog with vicious capabilities of eclipsing an entire home with its scent.

He frantically fumbles around the bedroom.  I assume his nerves are shot with anxiety, as his OG Mom and Dad are away for the weekend.  It isn’t until he eyes a landscape painting on the floor, awaiting its hanging ceremony, that the truth becomes evident.  Its depiction of lush green fields stirs his heart, and his faith in the painting becomes increasingly clear:

He squats in allegiance.

I dart out from the comfort of bed and into the world unknown.  Swiftly, yet softly, I scoop him up into my arms and hold him close to my beating heart.  I understand now.  But my understanding has arrived too late, and just as I plop him on the floor to retrieve his leash, a black lagoon erupts from his hind-side.  The creature meekly crawls away, ashamed of his failing to follow protocol.  I console him as best as I can; while on my knees in a hunched over position, I gently caress his shoulder fluff while throwing a mess of paper towels over the spill. 

Sometimes, apologies and tears aren’t enough.  0200 hours.  The situation has seemingly ended, and I hold the poor little guy in my lap to ease the pain.  When I lie down on the couch, he hops up and falls asleep on my stomach— much to the older dog’s dismay.  Since sleeping roles have been rearranged, I now have a twenty pound dog on my calves, and a ten pound dog cozied up by my sternum.  Sleep is impossible, but I’m more concerned about the literal shit we had just gone through.

0300 hours.  The puppy rises.  He wastes no time jumping off of me, in search of an isolated corner.  I’m in a neighborhood I’m not familiar with, so I decide it may be best to let him do his business inside and just clean it up.  Going outdoors this late at night scares me.  After all, there’s no way there’s much poop left inside of him… Right?   

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Although this pass of intestinal debris has more shape and less size, I see a new color that contrasts against the kitchen floor: red.  My mental state collapses as my fingers race through Google.  It’s terrifying to diagnose one’s self as dying via the internet, but I promise it’s even more terrifying to diagnose a puppy as dying, especially since there is no dependable WebMD for dogs. 

I panic.  I tell myself it’s a hemorrhoid as I wash the puppy’s bum in the sink.  Desperate for answers, I divide the fur surrounding his butthole with fleeting hopes of finding a hemorrhoid, or even the smallest of lesions.  There is nothing.  I scurry back to his poop and examine it for worms or other harmful substances.  Again, there is nothing.  I can’t possibly diagnose this puppy by myself at 0330 hours, so I call the closest animal hospital.

“Hello?”

“Um-hi-yes-I’m watching this puppy and— he’s five months old— and I think he’s pooping blood— what should I do?”

“How is he acting?”

“Fine, other than pooping everywhere.”

“Is he up to date on shots?”  As I answer, she softly chats in the background with a colleague who brings her food.

“I’m not sure.”

“You can bring him in.”

I sit in peeved silence for a moment.  “Well, I know I can bring him in, but do I need to?”

“If you don’t want to right now, stay on the lookout for vomit.”

“Ok.  I just want to make sure the puppy makes it through the night.”

“I can’t promise that,” she sullenly warns.

Legally, I understand why she can’t promise that.  Emotionally, I’m distraught, and I hang up feeling more clueless than before.  I do what every pet sitter fears doing: I text the owner. 

In approximately three pages of texts, I give her all the details— the butthole, the lack of obvious foreign substances, the different shades of black and brown— and I pray she has the sound on her phone turned up.  After 0400 hours slips by, I know that the puppy’s destiny is in my hands. 

He has one more go at it, but this time he manages to push out definitive shapes with softer odors than before.  I become confident that he is done pooping for the night, but my thoughts still hop around from Hookworms to Giardia, like a wild connect-the-dots puzzle without discernible form. 

By the time his Mom calls me in the morning, I’m convinced he’s on the mend.  I communicate this with her, but I’m also willing to take him to the vet.  After all, ignoring blood in a puppy’s stool is a dangerous game.  However fortunately, the Divine is with us, and she reveals that her brother is a vet.  He thinks it’s related to separation anxiety, and I praise the high heavens above for delivering this puppy from illness. 

As he starts to gain his spirits back, the puppy once again becomes master of the household.  He nips my ankles, tugs on the senior pup’s long, silky ears, and finds things unseen to the human eye to chew through.  Later that evening, I catch him running around the dining room with a giant block of mush in his mouth.

My first thought?  He has a secret stash of excrement somewhere, and I have to let him lead me to the source.  I silently follow him with a sharp gaze and I finally see the candle for my path.

It’s actually, literally, a candle.  A red one, to be precise, and it is placed decoratively by the fireplace with some clones.  There are a few chunks missing from the side of the candle, and they are not-so-surprisingly carved with small, sharp marks that could have only been made by puppy’s teeth. 

I laugh. I cry. I call his mom.  We share our relief; the puppy wasn’t pooping blood, he was pooping candle wax. Despite salvation, a quiet bitterness remains within me.  For approximately 18 hours, I had been consumed by ominous grief.  Feces and gore had rid me of immediate hope for the poor pup, while also depriving me of sleep.  With a firm grip on the puppy, I lock him in an embrace as I settle down for a highly-anticipated nap.  He would not chew on anything while I was asleep.  He would not scratch at his cage door with a vengeance.  He would be trapped in my arms, and I could finally sleep without worry… 

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The older gentleman dog had logged 8 hours of sleep during the fiasco, so he was a jealous mess when I refused to walk him far from the house, for fear of the puppy getting sick again.  We returned from his potty time, and I once again had two dogs holding me down.  In an ideal world, this is everything I wanted for the weekend.  However, just as the puppy can’t escape my grasp, I cannot escape the gravity of the adult dog on top of me.  We remain motionless and restless. 

The puppy really is on the mend, though, and other than throwing a raging PooPooParty that weekend, I had a great time.  Crazily enough, I’m still fervently looking for a pup to call my own.

Just… No kids.  For a long time. They’re pooping anarchists 24/7, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready.

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(Stacie Scott AP)

’Til next time y’all,

Lizzie

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