Hound Houdini

I’m without my little Teddy Bear this weekend. We’re selling our cottage in Canada, and Jamie decided to take him up north with him to pack up the house. There are tons of grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles and second cousins to play with, so we figured he’d have a great time. Plus I thought my big boy of almost three could use a few days of one-on-one bonding with his dad. The boys got a late start in the morning, because Ivry kept Jamie up all night with her whining to go out. There was a big flurry of activity as we got Teddy fed and dressed and packed up to get on the road, and then when the minivan pulled out of the driveway the house suddenly felt so quiet. Too quiet. I didn’t like the sadness that was seeping over me, so I did what every mother does when she’s feeling down: I loaded my two remaining small children into the Civic and headed to Costco.

We returned an hour and a half later, loaded with boxes of paper towels and waffles and Gatorade. I stumbled through the garage door, pulling Jo Jo with one hand and two bags of chicken nuggets with the other while Geoffrey rode comfortably in the Bjorn. Ivry was right at the door to greet us, which wasn’t that unusual, but she seemed agitated. I wondered if something had spooked her while we were gone.

I took a few steps in when I smelled it. The unmistakable scent of poop.

I stood, puzzled for a moment. That couldn’t be right, I thought. No one had done a number two that morning, and even if they had, we always bagged poopy diapers and left them outside. But it was there, unmistakable, and it smelled like a big one.

I checked diapers. Everyone was clean. I put Jo Jo on the potty and unlocked the safety lock on the dining room door, planning to deposit some of the items there temporarily.

When I opened the door I almost gagged. Then I saw it. A big pile of dog poo, on the floor.

“Argh!” I groaned. “Ivry!” At least she had the courtesy to do it on the hardwood floor, I thought. Then I stopped and gaped in horror. We have only one expensive rug in our house, a cream and wine-colored Oriental we bought from Bloomingdale’s when we were first married and assumed we had plenty of cash to blow through for overpriced stuff. I’d always worried one of the kids would somehow end up barfing all over it, but it turns out our dog had gotten to it first.

“Oh no,” I moaned. “No, no, no!” Then I raced into the laundry room for the carpet cleaner. Ivry was lying by the washing machine, looking sheepish.

“How could you do that,” I started to say, and then I stopped and stared at her.

There are two entrances to our dining room. One entrance is a pair of French doors, which now always has a safety lock on it. There’s fine crystal and china in there that Geoffrey would love to get his hands on and bang around. Then there’s another entrance, by our front hall staircase, and that has a baby gate firmly planted across it and another safety lock on that.

It was about as baby-proofed as one could get, and if my kids couldn’t get climb or crawl their way into there, there was no way in hell a middle-aged overweight Labrador retriever could nose her way through.

“Ivry, how did you get in there?” I asked. She lifted her head up and gazed at me innocently.

I called Jamie. “You picked a good weekend to go away,” I told him. “The dog has massive diarrhea.”

But apparently the shit had hit the fan in the minivan, as well. Teddy had fallen asleep and when he’d woken up a couple hours later he’d also pooped all over the place, including the car seat.

“It was awful,” Jamie told me. “I didn’t know what to do. I cleaned him up as best as I could and then I took him into the bathroom at the next service area wearing only his T-shirt and diaper. He was crying and screaming and everyone was staring at me like I was a total idiot who didn’t know how to take care of my child.”

Wisely, I said nothing. “I’m still completely blown away by how Ivry managed to get into the dining room,” I said.

“She must have jumped the gate,” Jamie said.

“Our dog jump a gate?” I asked incredulously. “She’s so fat she can barely heave herself up onto the couch. And I’m expected to believe she just bounded over the gate like some prancing show dog?”

“Didn’t her mom win all sorts of agility competitions?” Jamie asked. “It’s in her genes. She really had to go and no one was around to let her out. Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

“There’s no way that dog could gracefully scale a gate, especially with diarrhea,” I said. “She would have slammed right into it and brought it crashing down.”

My husband snorted. “One of us must have left the safety lock off the doors and she nosed her way in,” he said. “What, you think our dog can just magically poof! enter a room like she’s some sort of dog Houdini?”

I didn’t say anything. I got off the phone and went into the dining room and scrubbed at the poop with a big sponge. Ivry’s pretty discreet. Even when she’s outside, she’ll go hide in the bushes and do her business where no one can see her. I can’t imagine she would have wanted to poop in the home and have the evidence out for everyone else to see. No, she figured the dining room was the one room that no one in the house ever really went in, and somehow, she’d managed to angle her way in.

I had to admit, the dog was pretty smart. If I hadn’t randomly decided to store some stuff in the dining room I would never have thought of looking in there. I would have just wandered around my house, searching for poopy diapers as the smell got worse and worse, while Ivry lolled on the couch in the family room, laughing at her owner’s stupidity.

I walked back into the laundry room. “You know, I underestimated you,” I told my dog. She thumped her tail.

When we went to the pool that afternoon, I made sure the locks on the dining room were in place and I locked Ivry in the family room with a bowl of water and a rawhide bone. If she can get out of there, I thought, then she’s really a Houdini.

When we came back a couple hours later my canine was still locked in the family room. I opened the door and saw her, lying lazily on “her” green couch, sunning herself. I smelled something and looked down to find two perfectly symetrical piles of poop lying on the carpet.

I sighed and got out the carpet cleaner to scrub it up.

“Did you have diarrhea,” I asked my dog, “or is this some sort of Rover’s revenge?”

Ivry just looked at me and wagged her tail, but I could swear that dog was smiling.