Dark Secrets and Hot Sauces

Red pepper photo by manseok_Kim

When you look at us, you likely see a happy family. True, there’s the occasional squabble and a fair amount of foul language. We’re often the last people on the block to take in our trash cans. We’re not always an organized, prompt, or recently showered group. But in general, I think what people see when they look at us is a well-adjusted, close knit family.

But every family has its dark secret.

I wonder sometimes if people can tell what ours is by reading my face. I wonder if it’s something I should try to hide. Is it fair to burden people with such information? Maybe just close friends or perhaps a broader circle? Should I, say, feel obligated to disclose this information when engaged in small talk with mere acquaintances? Does everyone have a right to know? Even people I don’t know if I’ll ever see again?

Grocery checker: Were you able to find everything you need today?

Me: Um, I think so.

C: Great! That’ll be forty-seven dollars.

M: Okay.

C: …

M: …

C: There’s a card reader th–

M: My dog eats poop.

C:  …

M: I know … it’s a lot. It was hard for me too.

That’s right, friends. Within our own ranks, we harbor a poop eater.

Okay, sure, he’s a dog and dogs do gross things without thinking. It doesn’t matter what kind of dog he is. Poop cravings don’t care about pedigree. Poop eaters can be papered just as easily as they can be rescues.

The thing is, I’ve been around dogs my whole life without ever knowing some of them are prone to poop eating – and by that, I mean more than the occasional curiosity-assuaging sampling of a random cow patty or goose dropping. I guess we’ve been lucky.

It took a while before we realized the poop eating was even happening. And after that there was a fair amount of denial. Such truths can be hard to face.

Our poop eater has a well-established habit of trying to sneak things in from outside, like little pinecones and dirt clods. Sometimes, he presents these as little gifts to us. Sometimes he forgets about them, abandoning them in the middle of the living room.

With my poor eyesight, I now have a deep distrust of items that look anything like little pinecones or dirt clods abandoned in the middle of the living room.

Mike’s been doing his homework in this area, and we’ve learned more about poop eaters than I care to know. Poop eaters are born, not made. They’re genetically predisposed to eating poop. In fact, about 16 percent of the canine population have some propensity for poop eating. That’s one in six dogs.

Some claim you can train your poop eater to leave poop alone. Some recommend following your dog around and sprinkling hot sauce or pepper flakes on poop piles to discourage poop eating. In desperation, I bought some habanero sauce for just that reason.

That’s when the real struggle began.

If you know me, you know I am a sauce person. There is very little I will eat without considering what I might dribble on it for a little kick. But when the time came to rifle through my collection of Frank’s and Cholula and Tapatío, my siracha and Tabasco and Crystal, to find that bottle of habanero I bought for a very different purpose, something in me stretched almost to the point of snapping.

I realized the act of condimenting yard piles might break me. I abandoned the sauce idea.

Mike has been our poop picker-upper, and he’s been diligent about cleaning up the yard, never more so than these days, which also means he’s engaging in poop forensics to try to pinpoint the details of our poop problem.

I now get a regular poop report, from which I know our dogs produce roughly a gazillion pounds of waste a day between them, and more importantly, that our poop eater isn’t eating his own product. This has led to an aha moment: we’ve been inappropriately dispensing the supplements engineered to make the poop less tasty somehow. We’ve been giving them to the poop eater when we should have been giving them to the poop provider.

Not the same dog.

This knowledge gives us a fair amount of hope, dear reader, one that may help preserve my affection for spicy sauces. Armed with this information, we have purchased a new product.

But our hope is tempered. We owners of poop eaters have formed a sort of tragic found family bound by a disgusting commonality, and we share information. We have met others who have things way worse than we do. We have learned that the road to recovery could be a long one, and that no one product is going to work on every dog.

Take, for example, the tale of “One Star Bobby” who left the very best and also most tragic review I have ever read: that of a person who has become significantly more wrecked by this issue than someone who has been forced to glaze a pile of poop with habanero sauce. Bobby has simultaneously shaken me free of the notion that this will be over quickly, while buoying me with the knowledge that we are not alone.

For those who don’t care to click the link, I’ll quote Bobby below:

“I’ve used this for about four weeks now, every single day. Instead of preventing our dog from eating his own feces, and that of our other dog, he’s just becoming more determined and working harder to get his favorite treat. He knows we’re trying to stop him. I’m pretty sure that as we’re feeding him these tablets, he’s laughing internally at the futility of our efforts. It is now his sole purpose in life to eat poop. Dog poop, rabbit poop, wild animal poop on our last hike – it doesn’t matter. Our dog has gone from a casual scat eater to a full time, turd-seeking sociopath. He now LITERALLY eats the stool from our other dog’s rear end BEFORE IT HITS THE GROUND. He’s also learned to poop just a little bit, wait for us to start picking it up, run to the other side of the yard and poop some more and eat it before we can get to him. If we’re not within five feet, supervising every bathroom break, that’s the outcome. My fiancé and I now have to team up to thwart the efforts of this evil. I’m not exaggerating, and this imagery is absolutely necessary so you understand how ineffective this product has been for us. I rate this product 5/5 stars for breaking my spirit, and 1/5 for its intended purpose.”

Five out of five stars for breaking Bobby’s spirit, folks. Bobby, honey, I feel you.

And also, I’m jealous I didn’t coin the term “full time turd-seeking sociopath.”

Regardless of Bobby’s woes, the majority of the eight thousand or more reviews on this product were positive. And we’re desperate. I have no update yet on whether it’s effective, but since I’m conditioned to be suspicious of all things in the vicinity of this dog’s mouth, it may take a while to find out.

All I can say is, if nature has imbued my pup with such a disgusting craving, it’s lucky for him he’s also cute, or else he’d be out there, looking for his feces fix on the mean streets.

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