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Charlie Hatton
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There’s No Line in My Budget Spreadsheet for This

(Ed. Note: For yesterday’s dose of drivel, hop on over to Bugs & Cranks for a taste of: Sometimes Good Ads Happen to Bad Decisions.

Then mosey on back, take a deep breath and dive right in. The water’s fine. Just look out for that warm patch over there.)

Today, I threw money away because of my dog.

I’m talking about literally throwing money away here. Figuratively, I’ve been flinging cash down the crapper for the mutt for years. Kibble that’s not quite the right flavor. Chew toys that Her Holy Hairy Highness isn’t amused by. Rabies shots.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. Rabies shots are mandatory for pets, and that’s a good thing for society. I get it.

But seriously. How’s this little bitch going to catch rabies? She’s an indoor dog, she sleeps nineteen hours a day, and so long as all the other dogs in the neighborhood have their shots, I feel like I could save a few bucks here.

Of course, I wouldn’t do that. With my luck, the first time I skipped a shot she’d have it out with a rabid chipmunk, go nuts and eat us in our sleep. Which she’s probably planning on doing anyway, since I can’t seem to buy the food or chew treats that she likes. Without the rabies shots, she’d have a decent excuse. No, thanks.)

Today, though, I literally, physically threw money into the garbage, thanks to the dog. It’s poetic in a way, I suppose. But mostly, it means I have to get money from the ATM if I want a soda with lunch. Stupid dog.

“Either there was some sort of mega-crazy ‘Buy One Rawhide Treat, Get a Second Chunk of Dried-Up Smelly Dead Animal Skin Free!’ giveaway in the store, or I was having a particularly bad parking day.”

Here’s how it happened:

I was shuttling Princess Paws to her ‘doggy day care’ place this morning. She goes there a couple of times a week, mostly so she can sleep on someone else’s furniture and eat their kibble for a change. The first few years she was there, they would give her a couple of training sessions during the day, but that’s pretty much over with now. Either she knows everything they know, or they’ve given up on the stubborn little mutt learning anything useful.

Either that, or they’re still trying. But unless ‘training’ entails teaching her to snore and fart loudly at the same time — which I have to admit, is sort of a neat trick — then they’re not getting very far. Maybe they’re enticing her with the wrong brand of kibble. I feel their pain.

Anyway, the pooch and I puttered over to the place today, and I perused the proximity for a parking place. There are three spots right out front. When I got there — all taken. You can park on the side street next to the joint. Except, that is, when all the spots there are filled up, as they were this morning. Across the street — zippo. Around the corner — nada. Either there was some sort of mega-crazy ‘Buy One Rawhide Treat, Get a Second Chunk of Dried-Up Smelly Dead Animal Skin Free!’ giveaway in the store, or I was having a particularly bad parking day. I finally found a spot on the next block, and headed over with the dog to find out.

In some ways, my dog is a pretty typical canine. And most canines, when emerging from a car onto a busy sidewalk, will do two things — sniff, and pee. Often multiple times each. And while it’s comforting to know my dog is ‘normal’ in this regard, that’s of small help when I’m apologizing to some little old lady because the dog is trying to shove her nose up the old bird’s ass. Or because she’s just piddled on the lady’s grocery bags while she was waiting for the bus. Lord knows those stewed prunes and butter candies taste enough like dog piss, as it is. My apologies, grandma.

The dog didn’t disappoint today, snurfing and snarfling and hiking and whizzing every three feet as we walked toward the doggy place. We’re not usually that far afield, and you could see the giddy glee just oozing out of her (literally) as she frantically marked her territory like a wild-eyed bride-to-be with a double-barreled wedding registry scanner. ‘My tree! Mine!‘ ‘I claim this curb!‘ ‘All your mailbox are belong to me!

She’s a fruitcake. Have I mentioned that? Completely out of her fuzzy little mind.

This went on for a few minutes as we slowly, gradually, urinatingly made our way to the dog place. About twenty paces from the front door — and well into familiar territory now — she paused again near a tree stump by the sidewalk. She sniffed the ground, took a stutter step, then another, braced herself and squatted.

Only this wasn’t a marking squat. Nor even a full-on pee squat. This was the big one. The ‘poop hunch‘.

I watched in horror as she trailed around the stump, dropping three little constipated turds along the ground. I watched, because I couldn’t look away. And I was in horror because, much to my dismay, I had no poop bag on me.

When I walk the dog, I carry a bag. I know the drill, and I’m a picker-upper. My father was a picker-upper, and his father was a picker-upper, too. I come from a long line of responsible dogshit-collecting pet owners.

(At least, I hope they were all pet owners. Because otherwise, wandering around the neighborhood picking up dachshund dung is kind of creepy. Maybe they needed fertilizer. Or they were compiling a collection, for some disturbing reason. Maybe they were completely batshit dogshit crazy.

Come to think of it, that would explain a lot. Like the smell in Grandma’s basement, for instance. Or her sock drawer.)

But when I shuttle the mutt from car to door, I don’t typically grab a bag. It’s a thirty-second stroll, usually. Even if she looks ready to squeeze a chunk or two, I can get her in the building and drop her off before the deed is done. Then she’s their problem for a few hours. Mi perro’s turda es su turda ahora, hombres. Vaya con dios.

Today, though, my guard was down. The walk was long, the peeing copious and frequent. I thought she was simply marking the stump, but instead she made a deposit. Three deposits, to be precise, each about the size of a large marble. If marbles were brown, with little chunks of horse meat in them. And if marbles steamed when you set them on the ground. And if marbles were stored in a dog’s ass, instead of a pouch or can.

Okay, so it’s not a perfect analogy. Also, I’m never playing marbles again now. Especially not with that kid down the street who lost his pouch.

As the dog dropped the last remnants of yesterday’s Alpo on the ground, I raced to find a way to remove the offending dung. Pedestrians were walking back and forth along the sidewalk near me — and this is not the sort of neighborhood where you can just walk away from fresh poodle plop on the street. This same scenario happened to me once before, when the car was significantly closer. I turned around to retrieve a bag from the car, and had to explain to no less than four passersby what I was doing. ‘Remain calm, citizens,‘ I finally yelled. ‘A proper receptacle is being retrieved, and the turds will be out of your lives forever in just a moment. Please put away your pepper spray cans and refrain from dialing 9-1-1. Everything is under control.

This time, my ride was over a block away. And if there was an ounce of piss left in the mutt, she’d spray it on every available surface on the way there and back. It might take me twenty minutes to find a bag and return to the ‘scene of the crap’. By that time, an angry mob would have formed, and they’d probably have a noose mounted already. I couldn’t take that chance.

Desperately, I scanned the street for a bit of trash or something with which to herd the turds to a trash can. Nothing. Damn these clean and environmentally friendly city streets!

As a last resort, I fumbled through my pockets, expecting little in the way of help. Keys. No good. Even if I could scoop the turds up on a keypass card, or impale them on a key, what then? I couldn’t very well hand a shit-smeared card over to the checkout girl at the store, or dip a key covered in dung cooties into my car’s ignition slot. It simply wouldn’t be gentlemanly.

Other pockets held no help, either. Wallet. No. Breath mint. Hardly. Ballpoint pen. Super. At least I can write out a final will while they’re lynching me. And my last breath will be minty fresh.

That’s when I found the dollar bill. A lone single, crumpled deep in my left front pocket. It was old, already soft and raggedy with wear. And it was my only chance. I cupped it in my hand, hiding its identity as best I could. After all, who wants to be seen scooping shit with legal tender? In this economy, I might as well be lighting a cigar with it and blowing the smoke into the nearest unemployment line. And frankly, if all I’d had was a five or a ten, I’d have given up and taken my chance with the mob.

(Or paid someone five bucks to pick it up bare-handed. That’s not quite throwing money away. Hell, in some areas of the country, that qualifies as Saturday night entertainment.)

But it was just a buck, and no one was watching me too closely, so I reached down, scooted the turds into one little pile, and squeezed George Washington’s face around them. Luckily, there was a trash can nearby — and closer to the door of the building — so I dropped the load, cash and all, into the barrel and hustled the dog inside. So far as I know, no one saw me. Or went diving into the trash, seeing I’d thrown away perfectly good money.

Believe me. It wasn’t ‘perfectly good’ any more. Once you’ve been wrapped around a steaming pile of fresh pooch plop, you’re never quite the same again. Or, uh, so I hear.

And if that’s the last dollar I throw away on the dog — literally or figuratively — then it’ll be a miracle. I’ve just got one question left, though. If the dog’s too good to eat the kibble I’ve been buying her, then what the hell’s in those turds, anyway?

Now there’s something I’d pay good money to find out. Say, a buck. And I’ve got just the one in mind.

Permalink  |  2 Comments

2 Responses to “There’s No Line in My Budget Spreadsheet for This”

  1. Tiggy says:

    Oh well, for everything else there’s Mastercard.


  2. Charlie says:

    Nice, Tiggy!

    I’m still wondering what I’d have done if I’d only had change in my pockets.

    Maybe I could have answered the age-old question: How many turds can you fit on the head of a dime?

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