I took Islay the dog to Pritchard Park last week. The dog and I and Wendy were headed to Cannon Beach for a few days, and I thought a short walk would be a good idea before the four-hour drive. It turned out to be a great idea. Not only did Islay get a good run in, she also got in a good poop, actually three of them. I was happy for Islay’s timely extravagance just as any father is proud when his infant fills a diaper at exactly the time you want them to.
I confess I was a little worried because I had only brought three biodegradable dog waste bags with me and was looking frantically for a Plan B should Islay have decided to go for a fourth, something that would have been some kind of single-day elimination record. The ensuing drive was easy, and our time in Cannon Beach was relaxing. Islay never came close to matching her digestive tract achievement despite taking us on numerous lengthy walks on the beach.
I mention all this because I am an expert on canine urination and bowel movements.
Some years ago Wendy and I were visiting our son and daughter-in-law and our first grandchild Owen in Colorado. In an effort to make myself useful, I offered to take their dog Cooper on his twice-daily constitutionals. Cooper is a poodle and must weigh all of 5 pounds.
His walks follow the same route every day — from the house to a nearby park and back. We set off on our first walk, and to my surprise, Cooper stopped to urinate nearly two dozen times. He also stopped twice to move his bowels. I had been with Cooper since the previous evening and knew that he could not possibly have eaten enough food or drank enough water to require all those stops. Something didn’t add up.
So I decided to count Cooper’s urinary and bowel activities during our subsequent walks. The following morning, Cooper logged 26 urination events, followed by 24 that afternoon, and 21 the following morning. His bowel movements leveled off to a single event each subsequent walk. I recorded this information on a chart since I knew the rest of the family would be interested.
I didn’t have the right equipment handy to conduct a volumetric outflow analysis of Cooper’s deposits, but starting the next afternoon I started checking my phone at each potty stop to determine the spot’s exact latitude and longitude in the hope of creating a three-dimensional grid cross-referencing times and types of stops with telemetric geolocation data.
I had an idea that Cooper was stopping in the exact same location on each walk, and that those stops, when carefully mapped out, might reveal a pattern, or, at worst, might spell out the word “Treat” or “Good Dog.”
I summarized my canine urination and bowel movement study results in a short narrative report with attached graphs and distributed copies to family and friends of Cooper. I confess the response and enthusiasm was underwhelming. In the interest scientific honesty, I had to include a footnote disclosing that some of my data for the last day was compromised because Wendy, without letting me know in advance, had taken Cooper outside to play on the front lawn, and had inexplicably failed to even note, much less keep an accurate count of, any urinary or bowel-related activities on Cooper’s part.
I had expected the academic world to take an interest in my work with Cooper, but I couldn’t find a single university interested in giving my report a peer review or publishing it in a scientific journal such as the well-respected Contemporary Issues in Urban Canine Urination Trends.
Lately, I’ve been watching our chickens free-range in the garden, and I think I see a pattern in their seemingly random movements. Details to follow.
Tom Tyner of Bainbridge Island writes a weekly humor column for this newspaper.