I have heard that there is a point when new parents turn to eachother and say something along the lines of, ‘I can no longer remember a time when poo was not the major topic of conversation.’
Certainly until children are toilet trained, it is a pretty central feature of a parent’s day. I was twelve when my youngest brother was born and remember it well. I made a small fortune charging my parents for various babysitting activities: sterilising bottles, feeding, watching the baby when they wanted to go out and of course, changing nappies. I actually remember having a tariff that I drew up with the prices in pence of each task that I completed on their behalf – with different rates for what I found in the nappy when I went in. It made me a bit of pocket money, but also made me pretty sure that motherhood was not for me.
I have dogs, though, and the thing about dogs is that while babies grow out of nappies and are able to look after their toilet needs after a few years, dogs must be cleaned up after for all of their lives. Therefore my husband and I not only did not escape the ‘poo’ conversation that babies would have entailed, we are still having it. A return from each walk that the other has taken the dogs on is a brief summary of how well they behaved (or did not – Archie I am looking at you, here) and whether either or both dogs ‘went’.
Mostly they do, every morning. Occasionally something will mean they don’t. If Archie, for example sees a tractor, he will have anything but toilet responsibilities on his mind and so I will bring him back to my husband knowing that he will probably have to deal with the consequences on his afternoon walk. When delivering this news to this to my husband, I like to refer to it as Archie ‘saving up his love for you’ and although I doubt Whitney would have approved of me co-opting her smash hit to describe the time bomb that that Archie’s morning abstinence creates, it is hard not to think of the song as he unleashes the result in the park a few hours later.
Sometimes while waiting for my dogs to feel inspiration, I run ideas over my mind and the other day had the brilliant idea of recording them into my phone as voice memos so that I would not forget them. Ideas are elusive buggers and slip through the cracks of your mind before you realise it.
On Sunday, I was walking the dogs and they were being particularly slow. I did not mind, it was a pleasant sunny day, cool and sunny. The dogs were spending ages sniffing and sniffing, chewing on grass, digging around. Lucy has lately begun hurling herself onto her back at seemingly random spots on the field, but I suspect these spots have been visited by the magpies as the breeding season approaches and she is rubbing herself in whatever they have left behind in the belief it will help her sneak up on them.
As I held the lead in one hand and the phone in the other, talking into it, I watched as Lucy stopped and then begin to circle – a sure sign she was about to do her business. Remarkably, and in something I have never seen the in the six years I have been walking them twice daily together, Archie stopped at the same time and assumed the position that meant he was going to go as well.
Perfectly synchronised movements, I thought, as I waited for them to finish so I could go over and clean up. But I have a theory: I suspect that my dogs have been watching the Olympics.