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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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A Good Walk Soiled?

Twice a week, we have a dog walker who comes by our house to… well. Look, if I have to explain what a ‘dog walker’ is stopping by for, then one of us has bigger problems than I want to think about right now. Either I’m obsessively compelled to over-explain things, or you should be wearing one of those nifty soft helmets with a spit guard attached to the chin strap.

And since I’m the one usually in need of the padded droolproof headgear, let’s assume this whole ‘dog walker’ concept is self-explanatory. If I’m wrong, you can always look it up. It’s one of the few phrases I use around here that’s actually in the dictionary.

Now then. The dog walker.

“Maybe she’ll come back with wooden shoes or a monk or a high-methane atmosphere. I didn’t ask. Not sure I want to know.”

The outfit we pay to stroll the pooch has a few different employees, but it’s usually the same one at our house each time. We know this for a couple of reasons. First, I’m sometimes home when the walker arrives — on days when she’s running outrageously early, and I’m running hopelessly late — so I’ve actually seen her in person. Nice lady. Talks a little bit too loud. Seems very happy to be doing her job. Like, very happy.

I’m not saying spit guard Nerf helmet ‘happy’, exactly. I’m just saying that if I spent eight hours a day chasing down terriers and juggling twelve subspecies of spaniel turds in a plastic bag, I’d probably be a little less giddy about it. But hey, she enjoys her work. More power to her, I say.

The other clue we have that she’s the one leashing our fuzzy buddy while we’re away is the notes she leaves on our kitchen table. All the dog walkers from this place have left us notes; it must be part of their standard pooch perambulating procedure or something. Only one walker, however, leaves notes that appear to have penned by a three-fingered chimpanzee in the middle of an epileptic seizure. That’s our regular gal. I can’t read most of them, have no idea what she’s trying to tell us, and the name she signs them with appears to be Hwglfby. Maybe it’s an old family name. Her ancestors came from Holland, maybe, or Tibet. Or Neptune. No idea. Suffice to say that when she leaves a note, we know it’s her.

This week, she’s away on vacation. Visiting the old stomping grounds, perhaps. Maybe she’ll come back with wooden shoes or a monk or a high-methane atmosphere. I didn’t ask. Not sure I want to know.

Meanwhile, we have another walker, one who’s commiserated with our mutt in the past, but who hasn’t seen her in a while. She came to walk earlier today, and she, too, left us a note. Thanks to her infinitely more legible pen(wo)manship, we can clearly see the message she wrote. And this is what it was:

So great to see Susie again; she’s looking very active and perky! We had a good, long walk — and she did all her business.

Now, I’m happy she’s happy to see our dog. Hell, everyone is happy to see our dog. Me and my wife, the ones with the opposable thumbs and the college educations and the mostly-developed forebrains — nobody wants to talk to us. But the furry little nutjob who drinks from the toilet and licks her own crotch in public? That’s who everybody comes to see at our house.

(Maybe there’s a lesson in this for the rest of us: ‘toilet lapping and crotch slurping equals widespread popularity’. Hell, it worked for Pam Anderson. Who am I to mess with a winning formula?)

This is not what concerns me about the note, though. I’m used to playing second fiddle to the dog. And the wife. And the neighbors. Plus their kids. And a cat that wanders around the neighborhood sometimes. So I’m playing twelfth fiddle over here. Maybe thirteenth. So be it.

But what really concerns me in this note is the full emphasis — underline hers, I assure you — that the woman put on all of my dog’s ‘business’. Frankly, I’m not quite sure what she’s getting at there. But I’m not remotely comfortable with it, whatever it is.

First of all, I know what these little dog walks are for. There are biological necessities to be taken care of, and that’s just fine. I don’t really need an account — particularly not an account underlined for emphasis — about what sorts of various substances came out of my dog this afternoon. Don’t want to see it, don’t want to step in it, don’t need to know, thanks just the same.

And frankly, I’m not entirely sure what the lady’s just told me. I’ve never taken the time to consider what ‘all’ my dog’s business might be, much less all her business. I’m assuming she peed, and maybe dropped a doggie deuce among the neighbor’s azaleas. But is that all her business? Is the dog walker trying to tell me something else? Did my mutt sneeze up a lung, too? Hump a hydrant? Hork a hunk of Hamburger Helper? Have her way with that neighborhood tabby? If you’re determined to share, woman, then fricking spell it out.

Actually, I bet being specific is the real problem here. This is a dog walker — whose job, remember, is mainly to watch naked furry animals fertilize the earth in various disgusting biological ways. I imagine it’s what a night on the town with Jim Belushi and friends is like, or being the Deluise family housekeeper. But she’s also a lady — a proper lady, perhaps — and so wants to be somewhat… ‘delicate’ with her verbiage when it comes to bodily functions.

I get that. I do. And I’m not suggesting the woman turn to foul metaphors or excruciating detail. Lord knows I don’t need notes including phrases like ‘hosed down a dogwood’ or ‘three specimens, sepia in color and heavy for their size’ lying around on the kitchen table. Or anywhere, for that matter.

But would it be too much for her to write ‘peed and pooped’? ‘Tinkled and dropped’? ‘Squatted and stooped’? Work with me here, is all I’m saying. Otherwise, you’re resigned to writing ‘all her business’, and I wind up wondering whether I owe the city a fine because the mutt’s gone and molested the fire hydrant. Again.

And it’s no use asking the dog what happened. She just sits there with that smug look on her muzzle, licking her crotch and lapping toilet water off her whiskers. Which makes me think it’s just as well. I still don’t know what all her business entails, but I’ve decided for sanity’s sake that it’s definitely none of my business. I think I’ll be happier when the walker with the unintelligible scrawls gets back. If you can’t read it, it can’t give you the willies, right?

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