My Dog Is Also Known as “The Particular Pooper”

Diesel goes through a complex process to find the right spot -- even if he really REALLY has to go.


I love our dog. We adopted him sight unseen through with the help of my brother, who delivered him to us on Halloween of 2009. We’d been looking for the right dog for months. My husband had his heart set on a Pomeranian, while I wanted an animal who’s a bit more sturdy and “doggier.” The bio for Diesel, the dog in question, said he was a mix of Pomeranian and mini American Eskimo. He basically looks like a 20-pound Pomeranian, and I’m amazed at how many people believe me when I tell them he’s a Pomasaurus.

My husband and I both work full time so wanted an adult dog that was already house trained. We definitely wanted to adopt instead of buy. I spent hours on rescue sites, and we were regulars at the local SPCA, yet when I saw Diesel’s picture, I knew that he was the one. He was 5 years old, and he looked happy and healthy and eager to belong to someone. Fortunately, I was correct — it could’ve been a disaster, and I would never recommend not meeting a dog before making a lifelong commitment to that animal.

I wanted a dog more than my husband did, so we agreed that the dog would be allowed downstairs only — definitely never in the bedroom. I was happy to oblige and didn’t even sneak him upstairs when Diesel and I were home alone. I never said a word. We were a united front and were determined to keep the same rules for the dog so as not to confuse him. I did end up spending most of the first night downstairs with the dog, what with the scary Halloween revelry going off throughout the neighborhood and all, but I made it back to the bedroom before my husband woke up the next day.

On Diesel’s 10th day with us, my dear husband (who I call “The Dogfather”) suggested that maybe our canine friend be okay upstairs sometimes. Diesel had worked his charm, and now when we invite up on the bed each night for snuggles, I make sure to tell him what a great downstairs dog he is. He is not allowed to sleep on the bed — and honestly, I don’t think he wants to — but has his own bed in the master bedroom where he can watch over us all night.

We bonded quickly. He turned out to be a very gentle, polite, tidy dog who likes to please. He thrives on routine and will do any number of tricks for a treat. As long as he gets at least an hour walk a day, he’s a pretty laid back guy. He’s not a nuisance barker, has never destroyed anything, has had only one accident in the house (within the first few days), and has patiently trained us to know what he wants and when. He doesn’t always get it, but at least we know about it. He’s happiest when the three of us are together, but is content with either one of us alone.

Except for the times I don’t come home at night.

Earlier this year, my mother had a stroke. She lives in a different city and for a while I visited her every weekend. Now I go once a month and, while I’m away, Diesel doesn’t poop. He holds it from Thursday afternoon until I get home Saturday evening. I don’t think it’s healthy, but how can you make a dog go? My husband takes him out regularly, walks him twice a day, plays with him off leash, the works. The dog won’t poop. We’ve come to learn that he’s a particular pooper.

I’m not sure what his criteria are for finding an acceptable place to poop, and he usually takes his time finding the perfect spot even when I walk him for the first time after returning home. What is that perfect place? First, it mustn’t be in the yard — I know that because it’s been three years and it’s never happened. He needs to warm up with at least a five-minute brisk walk before even looking for a place. Then he has to sniff and reject at least three locations before he starts to squat and pace in what we call “the poopy dance position.” If he gets distracted, we start the whole process over again.

As far as I can tell, Diesel’s ideal spot is one that has not been pooped on before, is soft enough to scratch the ground a bit before and after, is fairly dry, and preferably is on a slope for some reason. Logically, I know he doesn’t try to find a place that’s as far as possible from a waste bin, but I have to wonder whether he likes to give me something to carry — you know, to make me feel useful.

As a first-time dog owner, I’m surprised how little it bothers me to carry steaming bags of poo around the neighborhood. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to that part of dog adoption. Sometimes when it’s after dark, I carry it even if there is a trash can around. I figure I can use it as a disgusting weapon to smoosh into the face of any would-be assailant.

To be sure, dog poo is not pleasant. It is, however, part of the dog owning deal, and I put way more thought into it than I ever would have thought possible before I owned a dog. I don’t have children, nor do I treat my dog like a child — but I think I can understand why new parents talk about poop so much. It’s about health — if what comes out is consistent, we must be doing something right by the small creatures we are in charge of — be it animal or human.

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