I pet sat for my dad last week while he was in Alaska. He has three dogs: a decrepit beagle, a mutt that suffers from OCD, and a bulldog puppy.
During the day, I made every attempt to work remotely in between cleaning up messes the oldest one let slip and retrieving lost tennis balls for the OCD one and removing the world’s friendliest bulldog from my lap.
Each moment was truly an adventure.
One day about halfway through my stay, during the middle of a conference call, the pack began barking in deafening unison. I exited the house into the backyard, apologizing the whole way to my colleagues on the other end of the line, who had all stopped mid-discussion from the shrill disturbance.
Once outside, I began pacing the cold, wet patio as we wrapped up the call. At one point, I approached the patio’s edge and saw what at first looked like a dog toy discarded on the ground.
It was not a toy.
It was a chipmunk.
And it was not in good shape.
And by not in good shape, I mean it was dead.
Being the skittish young woman I am–the kind who would rather drown a roach in aerosol hairspray than attempt to hit it with a shoe–I screamed. I waited until I hung up the phone, of course. And then let out a rapid series of staccato yelps.
At this point, the bulldog, who had followed me outside, also discovered the chipmunk. And I knew I couldn’t just leave it there.
I grabbed two nearby buckets, normally kept for poop scooping, and proceeded to try to collect the lifeless body into one of them using the other one as a makeshift sort of shovel, letting out more of my quick-fire screams every time I made any sort of progress, and apologizing out loud to little Alvin or Simon or whoever it was the whole time.
Eventually I managed to get it into a bucket. Thinking that was going to be the hardest part of the ordeal, I began searching for the best place along the fence to throw it over. (My dad’s house is next to an undeveloped swampy area on one side, in case you’re wondering if I was going to throw the corpse into a neighbor’s yard.)
Holding the bucket as far away from me as my arms would allow, and at shoulder height so I could not accidentally glance inside, I proceeded to walk down the yard’s typically innocuous incline toward the fence. It had been raining all week and with the bucket distracting me from the ground below, I never saw the thick pile of wet dog shit waiting for my foot’s impending arrival.
I stepped in it. And I mean I stepped aaaaallllll in it.
My feet immediately slipped out from under me. And in what had to have been the longest tenth of a second in my life, I fell on my ass, sending the poor deceased chipmunk sailing through the air.
It was then, while sitting on the ground covered in shit from my knees to my bum, and next to the corpse of that dead chipmunk, that I had a moment of gratitude.
For me, finding a dead chipmunk is a bad day. Finding a dead chipmunk and then having to dispose of it is a very bad day.
Finding a dead chipmunk and having to dispose of it and then sliding to the ground in a pile of wet dog shit while simultaneously launching the chipmunk through the air? Now that’s just funny.
So I l picked up my pooper-scooper-turned-chipmunk-hearse and laughed that little critter all the way to the other side of the fence.
I guess on some bad days, what you really need is a little more shit.