HALL PASS . . . May I be excused?

Yo, Teach! Gonna need a hall pass. Know what I’m sayin’?  

Few topics inspire more jokes and euphemisms than this one. You know: dog logs, kitty roca, doggie doodie, and of course, “Look! The dog just did a Number Three: he went Number One AND Number Two.” 

Let’s face it: we all have a bit of adolescence in us and bathroom humor tickles us. And with furry companions around, there’s no lack of potty jokes.  

I don’t know about your household, but in ours, the first conversation of the morning is usually about poop! My husband is an early riser. He takes the dogs out first thing, and then announces to me, still semi-conscious in bed, “This one only peed; this one both peed and pooped....”  

Sometimes (rarely, thankfully) there’s also an update on any offerings the cats might have left us in the night. 

Truth be told, I never know what to do with this information. If we were parenting human children, we’d be in for a few years of obsession with bodily functions, until they learned to “go” on their own. But parenting pets means never outgrowing potty conversations: did the litter boxes get scooped, who bought litter, what’s that funky smell in the corner, the number of times (and quality) the dogs did Number One and Number Two, which went mining in the cat box, and . . . “Ewww! That is super gross — what did she eat? Did something crawl up there and die?!” 

All the score-keeping seems as if we’re reassuring ourselves our pets are normal and healthy — not that there’s a hard-and-fast rule for how many times kiddos should do their business each day. Are we aiming for a nice eight (two Number Twos and four Number Ones)? Do we need something more like a twelve? Should I sound some sort of piddle alarm if we score less than five? 

Honestly, counting doesn’t do crap for you. Here’s the straight poop: when somebody is going a lot more than usual (either #1 or #2), or having trouble going at all, or straining to go, or showing blood in their poo or wee, or having “accidents” in the house, get to the vet. This is important for your kid’s health, because any of these symptoms could signal a serious medical problem. Also, veterinarians love poop jokes, and they know some good ones. 

Doctor Blake Miller’s favorite poop story happened when he was fresh out of veterinary college and adjusting to the demands of a busy practice. Returning home from work at the Woodburn (Ore.) Veterinary Clinic, he fell asleep on the couch with a half-eaten pork chop nearby. His girlfriend’s cat, Floyd, finished it, and quickly got seriously ill from bone fragments that lodged in his gut. Dr. Miller rushed Floyd to the clinic and gave him “the first of several enemas,” which the cat grudgingly tolerated. The young doctor would wait for the “long and productive” bathroom sessions enemas produce, and then take more x-rays, only to find something was still in Floyd’s gut. Dr. Miller meticulously collected and dissected Floyd’s poop for several days while hoping his girlfriend wouldn’t find out Floyd’s sudden illness was his fault.  

As in all the best stories, Floyd lived happily ever after. The last remaining gut blob that kept appearing in x-rays turned out to be a harmless fat deposit that a senior doctor diagnosed. Dr. Miller counts it as a great early learning experience, and, yes: he eventually confessed. He also thought Floyd was a great patient.  

Floyd has a kindred spirit in the form of a young Boxer whose eating habits landed her in overnight observation at Southern Oregon Veterinary Specialty Center in Medford. She had eaten a toy, and x-rays showed the pieces had a good chance of passing on their own. All night, doctors checked for poop and waited for pieces of toy to see the light of day. Early in the morning, the doctor did a routine rectal exam. She reached in and pulled out an intact, fully functioning squeaker, no worse for its journey through doggy doo canyon. Clinic staff still love to tell this story. They told the doctor her disappearing-and-reappearing-squeaker trick was impressive, and she should do parties.

 You’re no doubt asking the obvious question, but there’s no widely accepted answer. Yes, a poop with a squeaker inside is definitely more than a Number Two. It could change on a case-by-case basis, but it almost never scores less than a 4.5. 

Michelle Blake is a Salem, OR-based massage therapist and freelance writer whose work has appeared in national publications. Her husband warns you to know she's a REALLY crazy dog lady too.