When I told my wife that today's blog topic was dog poop, she said, "You're lucky that this is all you have to worry about."
Since at the time she was vacuuming the kitchen floor while I was perched at the counter with my laptop, sipping a cup of coffee and using Google to delve into the depths of dog poop behavior, I have a feeling that her comment had an ironic quality to it.
I'm unapologetic, though. Human civilization advances by exploring the natural world. And few things are more natural than pooping.
My interest in this question began a few days ago with a Twitter tweet:
These seemingly differing peeing and pooping behaviors confuse me. However, our Shepherd/Lab mix, Serena, appears totally comfortable with her excretory habits.
Yesterday I asked a friend (and Greyhound owner), Hans, about this. He thought that Serena's half-hearted scratching after pooping was an attempt to spread her feces, not to cover them up.
This theory was shared by Eric, a fellow Tai Chi student with whom I started a dog poop conversation after class today. But I wasn't going to believe them until I checked with the Great God Google.
That's when things got confusing, which is why the title of this blog post ends with a question mark.
The first thing I found was that not much information about "dog poop cover" exists on the Internet. However, Google pointed me toward Dog Poop Calendar. This appears to be the preeminent source of dog poop information in cyberspace.
Here I learned about Niko, a dog who likes to spin in circles as he poops, sending feces flying all around. Whose behavior is very different from Sirius, a serious pooper who is fastidious and likes his privacy.
Yet the Dog Poop Calendar blogger wrote:
"To cover the dog poop" and "mark their territory" -- opposite ends of the behavioral spectrum. Which was it? Or are dogs not bound by dualistic categorization, and embrace both covering and marking?
I pressed on with my Googling.
On Yahoo Answers I learned that supposedly dogs naturally try to cover up their waste so an enemy doesn't find them. But this doesn't explain why, most of the time, our dog makes no attempt to cover her poop. Or why dogs enthusiastically leave pee scent marks all over the place.
Answerbag didn't help much either. One person said about a related indoor behavior:
While another opined:
Well, the Daily Dog Tip (from Dogster.com, which sounds like it would be a knowledgeable site) has a reasonable explanation:
This has the merit of consistency, melding peeing and pooping behavior in a pleasing fashion. Our dog is darn smart, but it's tough for me to imagine that she thinks (even instinctually): "pee is for marking," "poop is for hiding" when she goes outside.
So we've reached the bottom of the poop question barrel. Dogs are trying to spread their excrement when they scratch their legs. (Unless, they're not.)