I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about my puppy for a while now. Her name is Lulu – I got her in December, she’s a brown fluffy little bundle of joy and I wanted to write a post about what an absolute gem she is. I would’ve told you about all her fun little quirks, the tricks she knows so far, and it would’ve included pictures of her cute little mug and her perma-bedheaded hairdo.
I’ll still probably write that post someday. She deserves it. Someday.
But today, she deserves this post instead.
Today, I’m going to tell you about this little piece of shit.
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Let me start with the obvious: We’re in quarantine. All things considered, I don’t have much to complain about here – some people have lost their jobs or their lives thanks to this pandemic. Me? My biggest complaint has been my dog’s fur.
I had a grooming appointment for her – get this – on March 18th. But I cancelled it for safety concerns, not knowing that on March 20th the entire state would be put on lockdown for (*looks at calendar*) the next 37 days and counting.
Do you get what I’m saying, here? She was already due for a grooming… THIRTY-NINE days ago.
If you don’t own a dog, and particularly if you don’t own a dog that requires grooming, maybe that won’t mean much to you. To me, initially, all it meant was that she suddenly looked like a cartoon character with her bangs covering most of her face.
While napping, she more closely resembled a discarded Tina Turner wig than a living organism.
I look back on this time fondly. At the time, my biggest concern was her ability to see. It was tragic, but in in a sort of comical way… I could worry about it the way you worry about misplacing your passport in between vacations. Sure, it’ll become problematic at some point, and I’ll have to address it then – but that day is not today.
Folks, the day arrived.
This morning, I woke up to the thick smell of vomit, and found a small pile of pink puke right next to my bed. Poor Lulu had ingested part of her pink chewing bone. “Ahh, dog motherhood,” I thought – and, in my humble opinion, took this news in stride. I cleaned it up, opened all my windows to air the place out, and gingerly helped her get some food and water in her tummy – all without gagging. Freakin’ textbook Good Dog Mom™ stuff, right?
I forgot to also hide the pink chewing bone in question.
While I was still scrubbing the carpet in the bedroom, I heard a guttural sound coming from the other end of the house. I raced over to find that Lulu had horked down another big piece of pink plastic and immediately threw it up, along with her breakfast.
I snatched the bone from Lulu’s mouth and brought my supplies over from the bedroom. Cleaning this one was less scrubbing, more scooping, and I gagged as I disposed of the three-dimensional mess.
Now having cleaned up two sets of puke, my place reeked of vomit and chemicals. Helpfully, this particular barf sesh took place in the living room – so now it permeated my entire home in totality. I was drained, and probably pretty smelly myself. I plopped myself down on the couch. I would need to address the smell sometime very soon… but at least, finally, it was over.
…or so I thought.
In all the commotion, Lulu was long overdue for a potty break – and out of the corner of my eye, I saw her squatting to go poop. Exhausted, I figured I would save myself the frantic scrambling to get her outside and just clean it up when she was done. I went back to my phone and scrolled mindlessly for a few minutes.
When I got up from the couch, prepared to be on doodie duty, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Not where she had squatted, or (seemingly) anywhere else. I even got down on my hands and knees (closer to all the offending smells, mind you), but found nothing. I felt sure I had seen her “assume the position,” as it were… where could it be?
More importantly, however, I also didn’t see Lulu. She wasn’t where she had squatted. She wasn’t in the kitchen, or under the dining room table, or on the couch. She didn’t seem to be on this end of the house at all.
I started toward the bedroom, and an understanding began to settle over me like an X-ray blanket. I felt it, more than saw it. On some deep, subconscious level I already knew.
I knew before the smell smacked me in the face.
I knew before turning on the bedroom light, when Lulu was just an oddly-shaped shadow on the ground – moving in a strange, unnatural sort of way.
…Limping? No, dragging.
I knew how long her fur had grown. I knew what a tangled mess it was, the matted, prehistoric jungle it had become.
I knew before I flipped the switch and saw the thin, brown trail she’d left in organized zig-zags across the carpet, like a snail’s.
I had discovered… that little piece of shit.
It had gotten caught in her fur. That’s why I couldn’t find it. It was still there, hanging on – and she was using the floor of my bedroom as toilet paper.
My eyes wide, only one whispered syllable came out of my lips, softly, “No….”
Then as the shock wore off and turned into action, more forcefully, “NOOOOOO!!!!!”
I lunged at Lulu, who in all her puppy wisdom believed this to be a game of keepaway. She darted through my legs and back out toward the living room, tail wagging, excited to play.
But the dingleberry still plagued her. So, she tried to get rid of it again – this time, by hopping onto the couch and scooting all the way across it.
She soiled three pillows before I wrestled her down and brought her to the sink. In tears, I tried to pin her down on the counter while she squirmed underneath me.
I gagged for the umpteenth time today as I used my dishwashing sprayer as a makeshift shower and tried to scrub under her tail. She thrashed and wailed. I finally got her clean, but only as poop-infested water splattered onto every single surface in my kitchen.
In addition to two separate puke stains, I now had a miniature railroad’s worth of brown tracks on almost every square foot of carpet in my home – along with an entire couch. My kitchen was probably covered in enough bacteria to make a health inspector faint. On top of everything, I now had a newly-freed wet dog running laps around the house.
All of this had to wait, though. In that moment, I had only one priority: the smell.
It was other-worldly. The vomit alone would’ve been enough to pinch your nose – then the cleaning products added a new chemical odor that somehow amplified rather than masked it. Add to that the Nascar tire tracks now rounding every carpeted corner, and it was enough to knock you over.
I had never asked my olfactory passageways to endure anything like this before. Those poor tiny cilia hairs in my nostrils were no doubt fried beyond comprehension. Not only could I almost taste it – I could almost see it. I pictured it looming like a fog, filling nooks and crannies, settling on my bedspread and clothes.
Something needed to be done.
I abandoned all sense of obligation momentarily to find something to counteract this nasal attack. I reached for the apple cinnamon spray in the kitchen, before wisely realizing that I probably wouldn’t want this associated with food. I stumbled upon “fresh linen” Febreze and clung to it like the last helicopter out of Saigon.
I sprayed it like I was trying to put out a fire, like a ribbon dancer making designs in the air. I sprayed without reservation, thinking anything – ANYTHING – would be better than the penetrating stink of dog puke, poop, and cleaning supplies.
I was wrong.
Mixing this fragrant perfume with the existing putrid stench was such a catastrophically bad idea that my eyes started watering. Coughing and trying to wave it away from my face, I stumbled outside – taking, effectively, my first deep breath of the morning. I gulped big lungfuls of the stuff like I had just escaped a warzone. In some ways I guess I had.
Lulu watched me quizzically from inside the screen door. “Please don’t make me to back in there,” I said aloud.
But go back in I did. With every single window open and every fan I own on high blast, I finished the job. I write this now having cleaned up a dingleberried dog, two separate piles of vomit, and the unholiest of poops smeared across my entire home. I’m on my 6th load of laundry, have hand-scrubbed the couch, and sanitized every inch of my kitchen. I’ve used so many gallons of cleaning products that I’m surely in danger of chemical asphyxiation. I feel certain that this incident will haunt my nostrils for months to come – catching ghostly whiffs here and there, sure that I must’ve missed a spot.
But more importantly, in the meantime, I just found an under-the-table groomer in my neighborhood and Lulu has an appointment at 5.