Neither of them were paying attention.

Our 8 month old Border Terrier puppy, Abby, had her nose to the ground, sniffing every inch of the parking deck. Her eyes wouldn’t even dart up to look at my son, aggravated that she wasn’t paying attention.
He’d given up about 15 minutes into the obedience class. “How much longer?” he sighed exactly 7 minutes into the session. I could feel the tension building in my neck. I offered to take Abby from him to see if she would do anything different. She didn’t.  45 minutes to go & neither my kid or my dog was interested in learning to sit, stay, heel or lay down. 

This wasn’t the plan.

I signed us up for obedience classes for a few reasons: 

  1. the county class was cheap & we needed to train our dog
  2. My son is 9 & could use some extra time with mom, not to mention a little more responsibility
  3. My son has turned into a homebody during COVID.

I’m the kind of mom who projects forward 15 years & every decision has gravity. If I don’t get my son out of the house for a dog obedience lesson TONIGHT, he’s going to be living on our couch when he’s 30.  (Admitting the problem is the 1st step, right?)

It’s a slippery slope to comparison.

The first 4 classes had been actually pretty productive. Abby was listening, my son loved rewarding her with treats & the tasks were basic. Tonight was an absolute hot mess. As any good Arlington mom does, I glanced around to the other dogs & their owners, each pooch sitting intently, waiting patiently for the next command. Of course all the owners were adults & really, comparing dogs (or kids for that matter) is just a silly game moms play to judge our own worth & success at parenting (& most of the time, especially during COVID, it definitely doesn’t feel like we’re killing it, we’re just keeping everyone alive).

We finally made it.

We muddled through the final moments of class & back to the car. I was notably frustrated, wondering if I had been too optimistic to sign us up for the Advanced class that started in a few weeks. If tonight was any sign of what was to come, I should start figuring out the process for a refund now.

Bedtime preparations usually including PJ’s, brushing teeth, taking the dog out one last time & making sure the kids go to the bathroom before bed. (It doesn’t seem like you’d forget this but my youngest has a tendency to tell me she went, preferring to stretch the truth & keep reading her book. She’s also the one that doesn’t think it’s fair that boys don’t have to sit down to pee or wipe.  Wiping wastes time) Abby took a bit longer to find the perfect place to leave her present….little rabbit pellets, unusual for her, strung across the grass. As any good mother (& pelvic PT would know), poop tells no lies. Our little Abby was definitely constipated. We headed upstairs to find my 9 year old had clogged the toilet again, a small toy-sized submarine.

It all made sense.
Before I explain further, please remember that from time to time, my son refers to me as Dr. Pooper. This is why: I”m literally obsessed with their poop (& apparently now the dog too!). If we’re inactive, our digestion slows down, more water gets pulled away & we end up constipated. If we’re in fight or flight, we barely digest, not enough water gets pulled from our stool & we get diarrhea. Our poop can tell us about our activity level, our mental state & also about what we’re eating & drinking. If we have to strain, our pelvic floor might not be relaxing so well. Being constipated can also make you feel like, well, poo.

In moments, our future as dog obedience school dropouts vanished. My dog & my kids were both constipated, made them both irritable & distracted, resulting in the less-than stellar performance earlier in the evening. True to form, both were much calmer, congenial & quite tired. I can’t blame them.

Poop matters.
Moral of the story? It can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body that you might have ignored or glossed over. You should be having a daily bowel movement that looks like a soft snake (rabbit pellets & submarines are definitely signs of constipation). Constipation can also take up space meant for the bladder. Besides bed-wetting in kids, it can be the root of stress & urge incontinence in adults. Notice more leakage or urgency?  Check your bowel habits first! We’ve all been a little more stressed over the past 6 months, but may not even notice it anymore. Trust me, your nervous system still knows it & can show itself in stool that’s too loose or too hard.

Have a question about poop? Reply to this email for your Dr. Pooper answers!
Stay safe & regular!

P.S. Check your fiber intake too. TOO MUCH fiber can make you constipated!

P.P.S. Adults should be taking in 25-35g/day (drink enough so your pee is clear or pale yellow). 5 year old kids should get 10g; 10 year olds 15g; 15 year olds 20g. Always look to the consistency of the stool to know for sure!

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