When doody calls: RVing with a un-average dog
In our second year of full-time RVing, we adopted a little mutt from the Humane Society, a male Yorkshire Terrier mix who for some inexplicable reason was named Maxie. That didn’t resonate with J, but what did was the name Peanut because he peed so much it made us nuts.
The last time we had a dog, we also had a backyard. When that dog needed to poop, we sent her out where she sniffed her favorite spot and dropped her load. We could pick it up whenever we pleased, which was usually right after the County Board of Health inspector left.
Just kidding. But here’s the difference now that we’re RVing nomads. We are required to follow Peanut around with a little bag, picking up his doo-doo before it has a chance to cool down. That’s because we don’t have a yard to ignore, and it’s the socially responsible thing to do. Like good pets, we are.
How much can a dog poop?
I was doing a little research the other day about dog poop, (who doesn’t?) and discovered that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the average dog produces three-quarters of a pound of poop per day. When I read this I had two thoughts:
- Really? The USDA is now spending tax dollars following dogs around and weighing their poop? What happened to studying corn yields or milk production? Maybe it would be better if they followed Congress around and figure out how much crap … well, I digress.
- Peanut is definitely not the “average” dog.
For starters, the “average” dog typically lets its owner know that they’ve got to expunge themselves by looking directly at them and whining or shifting on their paws. But not Peanut.
When his nature calls, he quietly paces near the door. No staring. No whining. If we don’t notice, often because we’re busy working, he walks over and whizzes on the garbage can, or drops a poop — which we affectionately call “Peanut Clusters” — right where my foot can’t miss it.
So we’ve trained him to go at the same times during the day, to get him in a ritual that doesn’t involve us washing a household item or scraping the bottom of my foot. And for the most part it works. But the key is to remember when it’s time. When we forget one of us will say “Oh crap, (Ha!) we need to take Peanut out!” because, of course, Peanut sure as hell won’t tell us.
So then we draw straws to see who gets to take him. Since J is an artist, her straw always looks better than mine, so out I go.
Must it be so difficult?
When I grab Peanut’s leash, how do you think he reacts? Why, he leaps off the couch and practically jumps into my arms because he so excited to go walking, right? Wrong, because, as I said, Peanut is not the average dog.
To demonstrate, let’s take an average dog “Shep.” Shep loves to go for walks. When you say, “Come on Shep, let’s go!” Shep jumps off the couch and runs to you, sitting obediently — tail wagging — while you hook up his leash. Shep may even bring you his leash.
Contrast with Peanut. When I say “Come on Peanut, let’s go!” he lifts his head and eyes me suspiciously. After much coaxing, he plops off the couch and plods over. Actually, I end up losing patience and grabbing him. I then put on the leash and we descend the steps out of the RV.
Immediately, he digs his paws in so he can smell the same rock he smelled this morning because it might be DIFFERENT now! I tug the leash and say, in my most commanding voice, “Come!” He digs in again and gives me this look that says “But I don’t want to!”
I know what you’re going to say. “That’s why you train him.” And we do. But here’s the thing: The average dog would be pulling me along, not the other way around.
We have liftoff!
I finally get him moving and he’s walking almost normally, when suddenly he starts pulling to the left. Now, I’m OK with this because he’s finally telling me something I want to hear: “Dad, I’m ready to drop a deuce.”
So I stop and wait for him to go through his little ritual. First he starts sniffing the ground (of course!) and pacing back and forth with his back arched like a Halloween cat. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth, until I tug his leash and say “Get busy!”
He then settles down into a crouch, looks up at me — like I’m some sort of peeper — and squeezes out a Peanut Cluster. He then walks about three feet away and vigorously scrapes dirt with his hind legs, covering my foot. I pull a little baggie from a container on his leash, bend over and carefully bag the doo up. The whole time I’m telling myself “You’re the Master. You’re the Master.”
There is something good about not having an average dog. Since Peanut is smaller, I estimate he poops about one-third of a pound per day. I don’t know this for sure, which is why I’ve requested a USDA inspector to come follow him around.
In the meantime, if my estimate is correct, then according to my calculator (your typical average calculator) the average dog poops 273.75 pounds of waste every year. Using that same calculator, this would mean that Peanut poops 120.45 pounds every year. So we’re picking up 153.3 fewer pounds of poop per year than the average-dog owner. Sometimes, it’s the small victories that matter.
Once he is done, and we turn back toward the RV, Peanut gets a bounce in his steps and pulls forward on the leash, just like an average dog. It pisses me off, but then I look at the little bag in my hand and think “Who wouldn’t feel that way after a dump like that?”