Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
My dog Sullivan is a big black lab mixed with something. He’s a good dog but he has a few problems; mostly, he’s old. There seems to be a lot of that going around these days. And being old, he doesn’t always get a lot of warning when he has to poop. A few weeks ago he made it just outside the dog door and pooped on the welcome mat. Then it rained. The mat is ridged and so while poop pickup was not particularly convenient even with the nicely formed specimen, once it rained, of course, the poop became a fecal splat, deeply ingrained in the ridges of the mat. This was now a Project. The hose hookup at the house is not completely functional and last I checked, someone had scavenged the hose and used it elsewhere on the farm. So the pile stayed there.
Every day since that poop was deposited on my front step I managed to navigate around it. Folks coming to help do morning and evening feedings entered the front door and also navigated around it. With recent rains it increased its real estate and someone, most likely Sullivan, walked through it and spread it onto the concrete steps as well. Nothing that a good hosing down with some soap would not fix. But that required locating a hose, dragging it through an elderberry-filled jungle of the front yard, hooking it up to the somewhat crooked spigot, getting all the kinks out of the house, and actually washing it down. At most a 15 minute task. Instead of doing this, I and everyone else entering the house continued to walk around the pile. The accumulated energy of actively ignoring that pile was probably enough to scrub and repaint the front steps and put up window boxes. But so many of our piles are like that, aren’t they. And I still don’t have window boxes.
Some people clear their piles the moment they appear. I think these people are almost certainly descendants of aliens. They probably also don’t need coffee in the morning. Me — I seem to be a magnet for piles. I don’t ordinarily leave dog poop in my midst, I’ll admit, but I always seem to have an inordinate share of other Life Piles: laundry, overdue library books, bills, boxes for recycling, bags of chicken feed, veterinary detritus, duct tape, and, of course, Sullivan’s occasional indiscretions on the front porch.
Eventually I did locate a hose. I waded through the tangle of the front yard, hooked the hose up, and, with admittedly a great deal of cursing, worked out all the kinks so it would spurt water. I cleaned the heck out of that front porch. It felt good. I then went on to vacuum the house, do four loads of laundry, wash windows, clear the kitchen table of bills and dog biscuits and old tools, pay bills, check email, and generally become frighteningly efficient. For a few hours.
Now I’m back to normal, thank goodness. Sullivan continues to poop on the front porch when his old man intestines tell him to, but that’s OK. I’ve figured out that I don’t have to turn into superwoman to have a porch that people can walk on without fear of icky shoes. I’ve also been giving Sullivan a lot more hugs lately. He’s really old and he has bad breath but his ears are so silky and his head so regal and fine, and he follows me everywhere I go in the house, just to be close. He is a bit dotty, and sometimes forgets where he was going. He stands in the hallway and blocks traffic, and looks in wonderment at all the humans streaming around him, so busy busy busy all the time. His appetite is waning, but he has developed a taste for McDonald’s breakfast biscuits. He has some trouble getting up and down, but he still chooses the softest dog beds in the house. He doesn’t bark much anymore, and I rather miss that loud acknowledgement, but he still goes out to the front porch to greet me every time I get home. And if I have to clean up a pile or two in exchange for all that, well … hand me the hose.