Thrice daily, Cujo Chuggie, my platonic-canine-domestic-partial-life-partner requires my assistance in escorting him down the five steep flights of my tenement apartment building to the gritty sidewalks of my Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. So he can relieve himself.
With the selflessness of a hospice care giver, I bottle up my disgust to manually remove this brazen dog’s stool from wherever he has indiscriminately decided to drop it. I fluctuate between Rite-Aid small sundries sacks and torn pages from the Village Voice as the collection material for a waste disposal method that is completed by a hurried deposit into a corner trash can that is more than likely overflowing with reeking deposits from the countless other canines nearby that also claim this midtown patch of the urban outdoors as their personal toilet.
Unlike the follow up maintenance required for Cujo Chuggie’s bowel movements, the compulsive release of his bladder to splash his urine as a marker on every inch of Manhattan real estate only requires the occasional apology. This was tested two days ago when he irritated a maintenance superintendant of a Greek Orthodox Church by relieving himself on the wooden police parking barricade at the building’s curb.
“You people and your god damn mongrels. This is a holy spot!” he shouted with a contempt that woke up the homeless man sleeping on the stoop of the building next door.
Cujo Chuggie is a devout atheist with a cunning wit, often telepathically forcing me to dyslexically contemplate the sacred name of his domesticated species, but he could never be capable of perpetrating something as distasteful as a hate crime.
“Listen, I’m sorry. He didn’t actually pee on the church. I saw he was going to lift his leg. So out of respect I pulled him to the curb.”
“The squares in front of this church are not for pee pee.”
“But they are okay for pigeon shit?” I questioned, noting the wild expanse of green and white smears spread thick like an acrylic abstract over the squares in addition to the church’s awning and steps.
Noticing the flush in his face, I apologized for the indelicacy of my honesty and left on agreeable terms, promising to be more careful in monitoring his perception of my dog’s religious subversion.
Cujo Chuggie’s indiscriminate outdoor appetite is gallingly triggered by danger as demonstrated by his occasional meal of a cigarette butt, half eaten chicken wing or spat out chewing gum, always wolfed up with the insatiable fangs of a starving artist. The end result of these impromptu inedible snacks guarantees a bout of explosive diarrhea for Cujo Chuggie and a flare up of an irritable bowel for me.
A wet mop is too impractical of an item to schlep along on a dog walk. Whenever Cujo Chuggie is descending into squat mode during bouts of these indigestive attacks, I have tried to gently drag him towards the street, hoping for the safety of a red light and the secure knowledge that the tires of oncoming traffic will do their job in removing the evidence of my disobedience to civic law.
The last time Cujo Chuggie had a bout of diarrhea, I decided to approach the clean up with a greater vigilance, stuffing my pockets with an abundance of Village Voice pages. Despite their inability to pick up liquid in a sterile manner, newspaper provides a subtler layering material over plastic bags, when creating a disposable buffer to protect pedestrians from unnecessary fecal contact.
I try to leave these clean up materials on my person at all times because it beats the humiliation or potential expense that arises on the rare occasion that I am forced to abandon the scene of the crime due to being ill-equipped. The extra bulk has never bothered me very much, but it recently proved to be the source of an unspeakable mortification that by a stroke of providence happened just mere moments before a session with my psychologist.
As is the custom upon arrival at the reception desk, I was formally greeted by a hearty smile from the clinic’s genteel administrator, a proud Christian grandmother as purposefully noted by her “I heart Jesus” emblazoned lanyard necklace with her building’s security ID card serving as a laminated medallion and the“#1 Grandma” picture frames encasing Sears portrait studio shots of her three adoring grandchildren displayed next to the fax machine. She politely asked me to produce my insurance card to formally register for my appointment. I reached into my pocket to retrieve my wallet and placed atop the desk before her widening eyes an unfolding pocket square of the Village Voice’s back pages, featuring a myriad of brassy, full color advertisements, covering the unrestrained fetish spectrum for sale by New York City’s more candid sex workers.
“Uhm…It’s for my dog. He has diarrhea.” That utterance further sealed her view of the necessity for my therapy.
“Please just get that off of my desk!” she said in a harsh whisper as if my dog had just shat all over it.
With my coordination temporarily misaligned by our conflicting anxieties, I accidentally knocked the newspaper over to the floor on her side of the desk.
“Oh for crying out loud!”
Convinced of my perversion, she bent down to the ground like a quilling hedgehog, purposely averting her torso and backside from passing my gaze as she held my eyes with a strange mix of contempt and pity.
“Just put it in the trash. I don’t need it.” I stammered.
She slapped it onto the desk.
“I don’t want this here. Just take it and put it back in your pocket right now.”
I obeyed her instructions in awkward silence, which lingered throughout my registration and waiting period until the closed door of my therapist’s office allowed my voice release to recount the incident in what amounted to be the psychological equivalent of an instant replay.
When I arrived home later that afternoon, exhaustion brought me to an early bed. Cujo Chuggie gently pawed at my ear, his proven method to get me to lift the covers to satisfy his earnest desire to be close. There is more restorative therapy realized in a nap with my beloved dog at my side than the stockpile of discussions in analysis dealing with the unintentional grief his chronic care has innocently inspired.