I wake up and can’t escape it. Smeared across the hardwood floor, caked into the carpet, stained inside my nose. There’s shit. Everywhere.
Our two dogs, Sula (a 13-year old pit bull with pensive eyes and a sensitive personality) and Panda (a 6-year old black and white shedding machine) rest on the couch, raising their heads at my snarls. They point their snouts and huff, indifferent, wondering how I could have the audacity to bother them at this early hour. Then they smile, I think, as I clean. They know that I know that this is their shit. And they give zero fucks about it.
I scoop and wipe and spray and blot. I disinfect and mop and curse and whine. When I’m done, I walk to the couch and lift Sula’s head, clutch her face, and melt in the gaze of her instantly innocent eyes. “I know it was you Sula,” I say, “You broke my heart. You broke my heart.” I kiss her and she rolls onto her back for a belly rub. Sometimes she farts. This is our routine. This is my life.
I feed the dogs and give thirty minutes for the food to settle before we venture outside, hoping this makes the entire shitty routine go more smoothly. When it’s time to walk, Panda – who reminds me of the hysterical hyena Ed from The Lion King and whose legs seem too short for her body – hops up and down and spins round and round. Sula is old and moves like it. If she had her way, she wouldn’t leave the couch the entire day. She’s like Paulie in Goodfellas, and doesn’t have to move for anybody. Making her go outside to poop offends her sensibilities.
Sula is particular where she poops. Panda doesn’t give a shit. Sula chooses from one of three grass patches about two blocks from our house, always pooping at the absolute edge as near to the road as she can without being in it. Her ass is in my face, and (I imagine) a big, happy smile is across hers as she watches the cars passing by acknowledge me readying to smush her crap into a green baggie. I pick up so many poops in these lavender-scented bags that lavender now smells like crap to me.
Panda doesn’t squat to poop. Instead, she arches her back in order to point her ass toward the ground. Maybe this causes hers to run like liquid concrete mix. One time, I stopped paying attention and Panda pooped on her leash. She celebrated by digging her back paws into the ground and kicking them into the morning sky as if revving for take-off.
The poop they carry must be heavy because their energy sparks once their business is done. Sula, with her muscular back and chest, shoots from her squat and barrels ahead, taking me along for the ride. Panda, with those legs that just don’t fit given the size of her belly, trots ahead like Babe Ruth to first base after a home run.
We’ve finished this morning’s walk, and the dogs have retreated to the couch. That’s where they head after their poop-performance art finishes. I’m at our kitchen table writing. I could say more about my life in shit, but I’ve run out of time. Coffee has chugged through me. Nature calls, now, and I must answer.