Have you ever noticed that sometimes what we object to in others, we are often guilty of ourselves? For example, I am an adjunct professor at a local community college, and at our big beginning-of-the-semester faculty meeting, I observed several faculty working on their laptops, messing with their smartphones, or having conversations rather than paying full attention to the speaker. If students in their classes were to engage in the very same behavior, the same faculty members would be quick to let the students know, in no uncertain terms, that such behavior is not acceptable. I daresay many of them have guidelines mandating that cellphones be turned off during class. Do you suppose that’s the part of the syllabus they were working on during the faculty meeting?
Surely, as pet owners, we are subject to the same foibles as the rest of the population. Take my recent rant on Irresponsible Dog People (IDPs). I’m quick to point out the failings of my neighbors, but am I truly sinless enough to cast the first stone?
Curly Jean joined our family as I was finishing up junior high. In truth, I think Mom and Dad got her because my brother and sister were already off to college, and very soon they would be facing a similar situation with me. Curly provided a wonderful transition to the empty nest. Simply put, she was the world’s best dog. I know, everybody has a “world’s best dog,” but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Our childhood dog, Pal, was a grrrific dog, too, but not much of a house dog, and after one too many accidents on various carpets and floors, my dad built Pal his own house out back. Being relegated to the doghouse wasn’t much of a life for ol’ Pal, so we eventually rehomed him with a friend who had lots of space. Pal lived out his days helping his new owner take care of a petting zoo. (One of these days I plan to tell you an absolutely fascinating story about Pal and the petting zoo.)
Curly, however, had impeccable manners. Her bed was located at the foot of the stairs, which she only used when people were up and about. The rest of the time, she slept on the floor outside my parents’ bedroom door. Everyone knew she didn’t stay downstairs. When one of us got up to use the bathroom at night, we would hear the jingle of her tags as she trotted down the stairs to her bed, and when you stepped into the hall you could feel the warm spot she left on the carpet. Once you finished your business and were back in bed, you could hear the jingle of her tags as Curly trotted back upstairs to reclaim her spot in the hallway.
Well, I could wax poetic about Curly and her winsome ways, but she was without sin, and I must get back to my confessional. Let’s see … where was I?
Curly Jean loved carrots. I honestly believe she preferred a good carrot to a bone or any other doggie treat. On this particular day she had evidently had quite a few carrots, because on our walk to Grampy’s house she needed to do her business and she deposited an orange doo-doo near the sidewalk. I was amazed and somewhat concerned. I’d never seen fecal material quite that color or texture before. This being before cellphones, I had to wait until we were at Grampy’s house to call Mom and report the problem. She laughed and assured me Curly was fine. Just full of carrots.
Funny story, right? Except Grampy’s house was a couple of miles from our house, which means the carrot deposit was made somewhere in transit. Someone else’s yard was the beneficiary of Curly Jean’s artistic output. And, horror of horrors, I am 100 percent sure that I (wait for it) did not pick up the carrot-colored poop. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I never picked up any poop for Curly Jean or Pal unless it was the doo-doo Pal dropped inside the house. I know I mowed over plenty of poop (the trick is to wait for it to dry first) in the section of our backyard frequented by Curly. But picking it up? Nope.
Our backyard is one thing, but someone else’s front yard? Well, let’s just say that I am mortified with myself — and only somewhat mollified by the “I was young and stupid and didn’t know any better” defense.
What about you? Any skeletons in your closet? An excessively barking dog that annoyed your neighbors? Letting your off-leash dog approach a stranger and offering the “My dog is friendly!” phrase? You’re among friends. We won’t hate you, especially if the sins of the past led you to becoming a better, more responsible pet owner. Remember our mantra, “Knowledge is power.” We want to sufficiently empower our readers to make good decisions. So please share and we will all learn together.