Stinky Lessons

As a new dog owner, I have already learned the first Stinky Lesson. The dog owners in the audience are going to know exactly what I am talking about. Poop is a part of everyday life. I suppose, in a way, this is also my first lesson as a family man. You just can’t avoid poop. Those who work with me know this was a big deal for me when Tiberius first became a part of my family. I am pretty sure every time someone asked me, “What did you do this weekend?” my response was always, “All I did this weekend was pick up poop. It’s all I ever do.”

Life as a dog owner has certainly been an adjustment to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong: when Tiber first entered the family in May I thought picking up his bowel movements was a drastic thing. But its not. My sister-in-law has two dogs who learned a much more drastic stinky lesson a couple of weeks ago. They had their first experience with a skunk. One little skunk had sprayed both dogs — one a giant, lumbering sweety, and the other an older little guy — while also managing to tag the underside of their porch. Adding to the trouble, the dogs made it inside the house before it was apparent that they had been musked. Those dogs learned (or didn’t learn, as is the way with beasts who have no anecdotal memory*) a serious Stinky Lesson: That thing is not a cat with a stripe accidentally painted on it. It is an acrid organic can of spray paint and it is not afraid to greet you butt first, or, in a more axiomatic fashion, Skunks are to be avoided.

This was a lesson that Tiberius was just yearning to learn this morning when I took him for his walk, but which I denied him. As we rounded the corner of the old Grand Rapids Public Museum, he pointed and then excitedly bounded forward before I even saw anything. It was another thirty or so yards before I even knew what had excited him. The skunk was small and un-assuming and if I hadn’t had my good and proper Northerner education, I might have run with Tiberius after the mysteriously marked little creature. We might have tried to make a friend together. But I flashed back to my old illustrated camping journal from when I was a child which I assume that my mom still has in the basement and the wise wording I had written on the subject — “And then we saw a skunk” — and I restrained my beautiful mutt from pursuing the little beasty.

Hey there, cutie, what's got your tail feathers all ruffled up?

Hey there, cutie, what’s got your tail feathers all ruffled up?

The result: I am sitting at my computer blogging instead of stockpiling baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and Skunk-Off. That was my sister-in-law’s weekend, and I took her example to heart. There is no reason my family needs to learn any more Stinky Lessons this morning. The lesson Tiberius really needs to learn this morning is not to greet us with baby tooth bites when he has bone crushing adult teeth.

In summary, the two Stinky Lessons we’ve covered today are:

  1. Poop is a part of everyday life.
  2. Skunks are to be avoided.

If you have any questions or comments or care to share a Stinky Lesson of your own, please feel free to share. This is not something I’d like to turn into a column — I mean, I would like less stink in my life, not more — but if you have wisdom to share I would be happy to turn it around and share it with my people.

*  Can you imagine what a blog written by a dog would look like? Dogs don’t have anecdotal memory and blogs are almost entirely composed of anecdotes. A blog from a dog’s perspective would likely resemble a mad Joycean stream-of-consciousness essay about the keyboard and the computer screen.

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