Bowel watch

I took the dog out for a walk this morning. He heard me rattling his harness and bolted up and down the hallway, filled with a childlike excitement that always leaves me ashamed for the number of times I fail to take him out for a walk.

With harness in hand it took me several minutes to get the thing on. The dog hates to have things come at him. Even though I expect he knows I’m about to take him on that most pleasurable of events – a walk up the street.

I try the easy way, face first with harness over his nose but he backs away and then swings from side to side as if we’re into some game of catch-me-if-you-can.

So I go about it from behind, ashamed once more that we have not yet taught this dog obedience. That we have not yet taught this dog how to sit on command, how to take orders and receive the things we offer.

But once I’m standing over him and behind he accepts the harness, to which I attach his lead and once again he’s pulling away up the hallway desperate to get out into the world beyond.

We’re scarcely free of the front door and he offers up his first pee, golden and fruity against the green and red of the kangaroo paws that line our veranda, then out onto the street for the next pee against the jacaranda on our nature strip.

It’s a warm morning and I’m on a mission. A doubling up of jobs. To buy sandwich fillings for lunch: ham, salmon and cheese, but also to appease my conscience by taking the dog out of his solitary, stationary life at home.

He pulls at his lead, ever wanting me to go faster, to run, but I refuse and yank him into a fixed and steady pace in line with my walking.

Already I’m wondering when he’ll take his first shit. When he’ll start that circular movement in the middle of someone else’s nature strip to signify the call of his bowels.

I have become obsessed with the dog’s bowels over these past several weeks ever since things started to come out of him all-wrong.

The vet diagnosed an acute case of pancreatitis or some such infection that caused this otherwise energetic dog to lose interest in life, in food, in walks and companionship.

He took to curling up lack lustre in his bed until something stirred inside and sent him out to the back garden again and again, through the cat door where he strained on his back legs underneath the washing line and out came the most vile red coloured liquid shit.

We panicked then, deciding he would die at any minute but antibiotics in time put him right again.

Today five houses up from Beaconsfield Road over the way from a two storey Queen Anne house, the dog produced a wonderful consistent khaki coloured stool that gave me the same joy I felt when my babies first offered up their insides into their nappies. That wonderful smell of new mown hay that comes out of a baby before the introduction of solids.

I felt the strangest pleasure as I bent down with my plastic dog bag, the one sealed in a red bone shaped container attached to the lead to collect the warm scrapings from my dog, careful to avoid contact with my skin.

And we walked on towards the supermarket past the houses that line this street. Houses I’ve walked past over a period of more than thirty five years. Houses that have changed little with the exception of one no longer visible.

The demolishers have ripped it out and lugged it away, piece by piece, to leave behind an empty patch of dry ground on which presumably some else will rebuild one day.

I felt a pang of sorrow at a remaining sign on the front cyclone fence that read ‘Tank eater in use’. Remembering the white weatherboard house with its full return veranda and carved entrance way that once stood here. Its proud owners, gardeners who aimed to keep their place pristine.

Now gone.

I found a rubbish bin in a nearby garage down the laneway and deposited my dog bag full of poo fearful of being spotted by the owners of the rubbish bin but hopeful they might not mind.

As I would not mind given this rubbish was sealed and ready for disposal.

As usual the dog was oblivious to all of this. Domesticated darling, and I had fulfilled my duty. To humans and animal alike.



6 thoughts on “Bowel watch”

  1. I grew up with cats as you know. My mother was most definitely a cat person above everything else but she had time for every living creature, even dogs. My dad tolerated the cats but never more than one at a time. That was his one condition. No sooner had he died than my mother adopted a second cat. Good on ya, Mum. My dad only ever had one pet that I’m aware of, a black Scottie he named Butch. This was before they had kids. Butch got into the habit of scampering out to meet Dad’s car as he came home from work and Dad’d open the door and drive the last few yards with Butch beside him and then one day Butch never ran out to meet him. He discovered the body under some privets in a neighbour’s garden. His best guess was Butch saw a car he assumed was Dad’s only it wasn’t and didn’t stop. He took the dog home and sat with it until it was dark and he felt comfortable burying it in the back garden. After that he swore he’d never get another pet and he never did. Only two photos exist of Butch with my dad and neither is very good, not because my mum took them but because the camera wasn’t great. In the one I’m thinking of right now Dad’s in his armchair smoking—a thing I never saw him do as he’d given up by the time us kids arrived—and Butch is sitting on the arm of the chair like a stuffed toy. My father wasn’t exactly an insensitive soul but he did tend to bury his sensitive side. I completely understand what it’s like to feel cut up after the loss of a pet—hell, I cried when the damn fish died—but I do struggle to picture my dad similarly attached to an animal.

    A few of my friends growing up had dogs and so dogs were a part of my life—it wasn’t unusual for one of them to accompany us on our adventures—and I’d pet them and play with them but I never developed any strong attachments. Thankfully next door never asks me to take care of her chocolate lab and I’m glad. The cats I like being around but the pup’s too damn enthusiastic still. She’s one of those creatures that loves EVERYTHING. I can enjoy her for about a minute, two tops. After that I want them to drag her off me. I certainly wouldn’t want to go round picking up her poo.

    There’re a lot of dogs in this neighbourhood and I’ve got used to watching their owners trudge by the kitchen window at all hours and in all weathers. I’d hate that. Mum’s cats never had to be walked. They’d mewl by the back door and all anyone had to do was open it a crack; that’s not so hard. Admittedly on more than one occasion on seeing how wet or snowy it was outside they’d change their mind and need to be assisted from the premises only to appear at the kitchen window two minutes later having done their business and ready to be let back in to the warmth.

    Irrespective of what it is I don’t think there’s much worse in this world than a sick or injured pet. I don’t obsess about our bird but I do pay attention when his behaviour changes. Mostly you can tie it down to the seasons but occasionally he’ll go completely off-script. I remember the first time he had a panic attack in the night. Night frights are not uncommon we leaned but that first one worried us to death. Now we just lift his cover, get him on a stick and talk reassuringly to him until he calms down. Thankfully he’s only injured himself once flapping around his cage and struggled to fly for a few days afterwards—that was sad to watch—but he got better and he’s now back to his usual obstreperous self.

    1. Such sad stories here, Jim. Your dad’s beloved Butch – his life and death for one. I’m with you when it comes to thinking about animals, caring for them, projecting onto them, all manner of goods and bads. And yes, the worst of it is when one is ill. Our dog has no words for his ill state just those sad soulful eyes that tell you things are not right inside but he can only let us know by gesture. We can try to reassure him as you do with you bird. I’ve never heard of such a thing as bird freights by the way. Fascinating. Thanks, Jim.

  2. I’m so glad your little dog is on the path to recovery. The temptation to spoil and pamper him now must be hard to resist.
    I admit I do like a well trained dog. Nothing upsets me more than going to someone’s home and having an unruly dog jumping on me. Bad family.
    We used to do ‘puppy-walking’ for a guide dog organisation and they taught us just how simple it is to teach a dog basic commands, which was part of the requirement.
    Contrary to many dog owners beliefs, every dog, young and old, is teachable.
    You can do it, Elisabeth.

    1. I’m afraid as hard as we try, our dog still has a tendency to greet guests in the way you describe, Karen, but we keep on trying. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I love the quotidian details you notice and comment on, Lis, and how you can turn anything—a walk to the shop with your dog, for example—into a blog post and general musings on life.
    I’m also relieved your dog’s bowels are better, and I won’t tell the neighbours about what you deposited in their bin. I don’t tend to use wheelie bins, but I reckon skips are fair game! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Louise. It was just an ordinary walk but as you say, there are so many aspects to a walk, if you take the time to follow your internal ramblings and mix them with external events.

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