February 24, 2009

Holding Water

The rain came down in sheets today. That’s how Gretchen described it. All I know is that we all got very wet and all that rain means no pictures (bad for the camera).

Alas, it gives me time to reflect on something I’ve found curious in my work as a dog dog walker: How different we all are in relieving ourselves.

Take for instance Monty, (here’s a photo of him from a drier day): Monty

Monty is a dog who can both hold his water and release it with gusto.  On a walk, he will strategically lift his leg (either one, or neither sometimes) and pee for up to a minute sometimes even longer.  It’s impressive. And when we get near a water bowl (which for Monty must be plastic as the metal ones scare him), he can drink the whole bowl in one sitting and beg for more.  That, too is impressive.

In the other department, you know, the messier one, Monty is very, very particular about where he takes care of his substantial business.  Gretchen, who was once a teacher, calls it Canine Differentiation or said in simpler terms, we’re all different. Monty trots before his trots.  Really.  He prances at a faster clip at the edges of the park and then worries himself into a bit of a spin before he squats. Sometimes, like today, he’ll go through the whole prancing thing, spin a few times, and then forget about it and continue on his way. Gretchen finds that a bit frustrating, but she handles it well and maintains her patience until Monty finds just the right location.

Quillette, on the other hand, is very secretive.  Without knowing it, she can squat, which causes the leash to jerk at times when Gretchen least expects it.  And despite being a girl, Quillette likes to have the last pee — that’s the pee on top of everyone else’s. This might mean that sheQ-girl pees more than once at any given stop making certain to mark on top of mine, Monty’s, or anyone else who might have joined us.

Quillette is equally sly about taking care of her bigger business.  She’ll secretly squat to pee and then, with just the slightest movement, slide right into pooping.  It’s pretty fancy. She gives no clue, no warning, and BAM, there it is.  Amazing.

This is completely opposite of me.  Ever since I was a little pup, I’ve been a rather worried potty boy, especially when I have to poop.  It took me about a year (thanks to help from Monty) to learn how to lift my leg and once I had that mastered, I had to learn to lift either leg (because you never know the circumstances you’ll be facing).  Recently, Quillette has taught me to mark on top of other dog’s pee spots and I find that particularly fun.  But unlike Monty, I don’t pee 15 times on mea walk. Two or three good releases works for me.

Now pooping, well I appreciate a dark corner and often, when the urge moves me, I have to scamper off to find a bush somewhere off the trail. This can be disconcerting as it might look like I’m racing off to chase something interesting, but that nervous run is actually a sign of my panicked necessity.  I return and I return much more relaxed and happy.

Gemma is a lot like me, although she can get easily distracted.  She can take FOREVER to pee, but when she does, she gets right down to it and you can see the relief on her face. “Why didn’t I think of that earlier?” Getting her to pee takes some tricks and Gretchen is trying her best to master them. Again, patience is key and for Gemma, the fewer the distractions the better, but who can control planes flying over or squirrels racing by or the sound of a dog barking in the distance?  You get the picture.gemma

Gemma is a mighty pooper delivering a pile that rival my own.  Not bad for a little pup, but she isn’t nearly as picky about where or when as I am.  She’ll stop in the middle of the street if she feels the urge, though as she grows older, she’s taken to that nervous spin and worried scurry that I am known for.

As for Oshi and Perrito, they’re like twins even though they are not related except by breed. They are the smallest dogs we walk and they lift their legs more than all the other dogs we walk combined!  I’m not kidding. Sometimes they’ll lift their legs 20 times in a 30-minute walk and that’s 20 times EACH! It can make for slow going if Gretchen gives into it, but she knows (as do I) that after about the fifth try, there’s only a dribble or a drop left (if that!).

OshiWhat’s unique about the boys is their ability to poop within one minute of each other. One will curl his bottom under and three steps down the road, the next will follow.  Synchronized pooping we call it. Makes for easier clean up, though Perrito can poop up to five times in a 30-minute walk.

I think he must save it up for when he sees us!  It’s truly amazing!Perrito

Lucy is all business about her business. She gets that leash on and within 5 minutes she’s taken care of every aspect of her mission.  100 steps on our walk and she squats to pee. She does, however, prefer to pee in a pile of leaves though will squat on the lawn if need be.

LucyShe has the same determination with her pooping. “Time to poop?” she says, “Okay, check that off the list.”  Unfortunately for Gretchen, Lucy doesn’t want to hang around for pick up time. She wants to be off, down to the field or the courts, so she can play fetch.  Never once have I seen her stop her game of fetch to go the bathroom.  Instead, she pees three or four times when she’s on her way back home.  Down to business I tell you, down to business.

Okay, who’s left?  Oh yes, Ollie.  I don’t think Ollie’s figured out he’s a boy yet.  He pees like a girl and I mean no insult in that description. I pee like a girl whenever I’m too lazy to lift a leg, but I have yet to see Ollie lift a leg in all our time together.

Originally, when we started walking Ollie, peeing was an afterthought. We’d be walking down the street and all of the sudden a light would go off and he’d squat to pee wherever he was.  Sometimes this got dangerous as we’d be in the middle of the crosswalk and we’d hear Ollie say, “Wait, something’s happening here!  Oh look at that!”  Ollie’s such a happy-go-lucky fellow that I think his need to go even surprises him.

OllieThe same thing happens when he needs to poo.  He’ll look up at Gretchen, give his typical Ollie smile, and then curl his bottom into that signature stance and drop a few logs in the grass.  Whereas I am relieved by my release, Ollie is like, “Sorry about the delay. Now where are we going?”  He likes to hop, that Ollie, and he is known for a nice big hop after a nice big poop.

Okay, you may not have wnated to read all of this, but in my work, I find it most fascinating.  Gretchen always jokes, while picking up poo in her blue eco-friendly bags, that she’s a professional. I think, though, I’ve taken it to a whole new level. I wonder if you can earn a degree in the study of pee?  Doctor of Poopology?  The Number One of Number Two? I’ll have to look into that!

May the rain subside for tomorrow!  My hair is getting curlier and curlier and Gretchen is threatening that red raincoat I so despise!


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