The Secret Life of Dog Owners

Yesterday morning, I took our puppy, Buckner, to the vet for a routine visit.

Well, it was routine from her perspective.

You see, I had to … how do I put this delicately … collect a stool sample from her to take in with us.

(If you’re thinking that’s not all that delicate, I confess that turning poop-picking into a lyrical work of art may very well be beyond my writing talents. On the upside, “stool sample” still isn’t as bad as it could’ve been, as the first sentence of this parenthetical paragraph proves.)

Having to complete this task reminded me of a joke Jerry Seinfeld used to do in his standup. He talked about people taking their dogs for walks and being stuck carrying around their number twos (a little better?) in plastic baggies, speculating that if aliens ever came down from space, the only reasonable conclusion for them to draw would be that the pooches were in charge.

(Incidentally, the preceding paragraph is proof that a joke is never that funny when you try to explain it. And this paragraph proves that I’m all about proof-point parentheticals today. What a weird thing to be about.)

However, with all due respect to my comedic hero, aliens are the least of my concerns. No, I’m far more worried about this dog whom I’m supposedly trying to teach to respect me, in the words of the Dog Whisperer, as the “pack leader.”

I don’t know what was going on in Buckner’s head—often, I’m not convinced that she does—this morning, but I have a hard time believing it was something along the lines of: “My instinct is to ignore you. And yet I’m a firm believer there are no small jobs, only small men. Thus, your dedication to my droppings has earned you my loyalty … and my love.”

Of course, I wasn’t just picking up after her; that would’ve left me with too much dignity, the kind you lose the first time you stand behind a dog and cheer her bowel movements like a drunken bachelorette party watching an even drunker bride-to-be sing Party in the USA karaoke.

To Buckner’s credit, she didn’t act like I had just applauded wildly in anticipation of her letting me pick up her poop in an inside-out Ziploc bag. Perhaps that’s the difference between dogs and humans, that ability to look past the poop-picking.

And then again, perhaps not.

Still, she has to be judging me somewhere behind these mysterious doggy eyes. I mean, how could she not? I just hope she doesn’t find out about that haircut I had my sophomore year of high school.

I think that would push her over the edge.

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