The year is 2006, winter, second semester of my senior year of college. My brother, Troy, and Heather, my to-be sister-in-law, were out of town, returning in the wee hours of the morning. Troy asked me to go to the house and check on their newly adopted dog, Harley.
This is where the story begins, told in two parts: my version (Commode To Joy); and my brother’s version (Eau De Troy).
Commode To Joy
I’m a cat person. Always have been. Always will be. But when my brother called asking me to help with their dog, Harley, I said yes, because #family
Harley is the poster-pup for mutts: Brindle fur with the stankiest of stank eyes and a beard that’d have Jafar rubbing the genie’s lamp and wishing for an upgrade. My afternoon Harley-fest involved me sitting on the couch while his bug eyes assessed me from across the room. He’s about as cuddly as a gremlin. I decided to go to the mall.
To be fair, Troy insisted I put Harley in his kennel should I leave… But they lived five minutes from the mall and I was only going to be gone for a little bit. I felt bad picturing Harley’s crazy eyes locked in a kennel, so I keep him out and left.
What. I’ve only ever had cats.
The details are blurry here. Did I just go to the mall? Did I tack on dinner while out? I don’t know. I know it was dark when I got back, and I know what I found when I returned: Crap. The metaphorical and literal kind. Everywhere.
That dick of a dog had counter-surfed, knocking off every piece of mail and some books onto the floor before going paper-shredder on them. That was his warm up.
You know those girl dolls that do the splits at the base of the door to keep the draft out? Fun fact: Their legs are filled with corn. As in corn. And also soybeans.
I look at Harley..who’s eyeing me…waiting for the reaction…and then I see it.
He’d taken a dump by the tv. As in, he’d deuced a couple of deuces. On the carpet. Cause why not. Mutt’s gone wild.
What else could I do but clean up? Cry. You’re darn right I cried.
Harley watched me return salvageable bits of mail and books to the counter. He sniffed his poop as I bagged it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw his nubbin of a tail wag. Jerk.
Then came the vacuum, which I plugged in and ran over every square inch of carpet, still crying, because the mess inexplicably worsened. Why are there still corn kernels everywhere when I VACUUMED THIS ALREADY!!!
I gave up. Put the vacuum away and that crotchety canine back in his kennel. Peace. Out.
Eau De Troy
I got home around 2 a.m. Bleary-eyed, I approached the back door and noticed a plastic grocery sack sitting on the stoop, handles tied together. I picked it up — Sweet. Somebody left me a present. — unlocked the door, and set the sack on the kitchen counter.
The lone living room lamp cast poor lighting throughout the main level. In the dim light I could make out small objects all over the floor…
With a flip of the light switch I saw corn kernels and soybeans. Everywhere. Shredded bits of red fabric and paper littered the floor. My adrenaline levels spiked to DEFCON status. I’ve been robbed.
Heart racing, knife in hand, I do a quick sweep-and-clear of the main level, then double back to the basement. No drawers shuffled through. No missing items. Nothing broken, or so I think.
Back upstairs, I pieced the bits of red fabric together as best I could. They belonged to the door draft blocker — the doll-looking lady with her legs spread to stop air from getting in. But where was said-lady’s stuffing?
Harley is “notorious”, let’s say, and has previously destroyed countless items in the house. Leaving him out is the equivalent of some wily, deranged, possibly drunk hyena on the plains of the Serengeti. This wreaked of his handiwork. Speaking of wreak, I was getting a faint waft of shit.
Harley was kenneled when I got home. No self-respecting human being would break into someone’s house, un-kennel their dog, destroy a wind-blocker-lady-thingy, chuck her agricultural innards all over the house, and then have the decency to re-kennel the dog and lock up behind themselves. And why do I smell dog shit?!
In my adrenaline rush, I’d forgotten about the sack still sitting on the counter. I opened it up to discover…shit. Piles and piles of dog shit. Along with more corn and soybeans.
How in the hell did this happen? Unless… No. No way. Never. Never would my intelligent, diligent sister ignore my explicit rules about the dog.
I called her. She answered. The call had awoken her. She got emotional. Remorseful. She left the house for “just a few minutes” and thought it’d be okay to leave Harley out. She returned to what she described as, “What the fuck.”
I asked why she hadn’t cleaned up. She protested. She vacuumed, but the vacuum was broken. Vacuums don’t, in fact, work right when the hose comes undone; everything sucked up sprays out again with near hurricane force winds.
I wasn’t robbed, I was Harleyed.
I was Jamied.
Commode To Joy
Thirteen years later, and Troy has never asked me to dog sit again.
I’m a cat person anyway.