Grateful for Kale Stems & Dog Farts? You bet!

She started howling at 2:30 a.m.  Cocoa’s bark is a mix of a yodel and urgent scream.  She stood at the base of the stairs waving the large head that she never grew into toward the basement. I hurried down the stairs, over the gate and led her outside. Before I even closed the door, it hit me. Oh, my God, she broke all previous records. She just dropped the worst bomb I had ever smelled. It lingered. I felt like I had to walk through poison gas to get to the family room to grab a glass of water.

The scene played out again at 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m.

In a momentary lapse of judgment, I gave the dogs the kale stems while I was making dinner last night. They were sturdy stems. Too good to be tossed, I thought. The dogs are unpredictable when it comes to greens. They love carrots. They could eat them all day. But I often find fully chewed and undigested remnants of lettuce and kale the morning after I thought it a good idea to share. And I shared plenty of them last night, Cocoa being the greatest recipient.

I was kicking myself, while at the same surprisingly grateful when Cocoa alarmed the poop patrol early this morning. Kicking myself because I was in a sound sleep, and she has the most sensitive stomach of the three, what the hell was I thinking? I know better. Then again I was grateful that her voice penetrated my earplugs so I could get up and get her out before, well you know what happens next.


Life with three dogs is actually pretty predictable. They have their own pack. Chloe is the alpha. But in truth, I am. They circle around me when I am working. They have their own version of shotgun: fighting with each other at night, sometimes sitting on the other’s head until they successfully butt the other off the couch, so she can position herself closest to me. They talk like kids do, too. When Cocoa can’t reach a toy that Chloe or Ruby is playing with, she barks and cries like hell until I get it for her. They want attention, and just like children, they bring their toys, and sometimes dead animals and await praise.


Every day Bridget and make at least one comment about the stench or frequency of their farts. I imagine an intestinal version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory churning away emitting poisonous gases. Speaking of it now, I think that the Department of Defense should jar their farts and use them in combat.  If you could intensify the odor, you’d likely knock down a whole country.

Back to this morning when I woke up to a second consecutive day of sun (Hooray!). I was tired thanks to the interrupted sleep. I got Bridget off to school, despite her protests, and I got busy with my day. I opened to this in Comfort Prayers this morning.


While we cry ourselves to sleep, gratitude waits patiently to console and reassure us; there is a landscape larger than the one we can see.


As silly as this sounds, I am grateful for this reminder to be grateful. Last night I went to sleep, too tired to cry. A host of reasons welled up inside me, crowded together and stuck, like swallowed gum in your stomach waiting seven years to be digested. I eventually fell to sleep, awoken to my role as the mother of the pack. I am discontent with my current the state of affairs; know that the only person who can navigate this present and future is me, and grateful for the reminder that I am needed and relevant in this world, even if that means those who need me are of the canine species. I also know that the landscape in my backyard will be winter’s version of the summer lawn covered in dandelions, poops the featured weed of the season.

I’m cracking the window, in the hopes that the fresh air helps Cocoa’s killer farts dissipate. And I’m adding one more thing to my grateful list: That no matter how awful her poison gas, I thank God that the solid form of whatever kale stems is brewing in her stomach appear in the winter grass instead of my living room floor.

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