Our current oldest dog, Elsie, is a sweetie; she’s the princess of our little doggie family. She’s an English Springer Spaniel which, for my money, is one of the most beautiful breeds of dog. She is also probably the smartest dog we have. Now, at thirteen, she’s almost blind, and pretty much deaf (although the deafness seems to come and go a little bit, depending on what you’re saying to her), and fairly constantly confused. She spends most of her days napping on the couch, although, due to her arthritis, she frequently needs help getting up there. Even though she’s not the cute little puppy she used to be, everybody still loves Elsie. There’s just one problem: she eats poo. She seems to like it best when the weather is cold (poocicles!), the colder the better (crunchy poo!), although she doesn’t turn up her nose at it when the weather is warm either (gummy poo!).
There’s nothing like seeing this beautiful little dog wandering around the yard, and then she looks up at you, and she looks like she’s doing an imitation of Winston Churchill, with a big ol’ poo stogie hanging out of her mouth as she enthusiastically gnaws on it. It’s kind of funny, but disgusting, and no matter how we try to keep the yard clean, with four dogs, there’s always some out there. It also doesn’t help that two of the four are big dogs with consistently impressive output. At least she’s not a big licker; trust me, nobody wants puppy kisses from Elsie.
The weird thing is that she’s a picky eater, and getting pickier every day. We’ve got her on special dog food formulated for older dogs, and she ate it for a while, and then just stopped. For a couple of days, we just couldn’t get her to eat. Finally, my wife, the beautiful and compassionate Jess, started mixing canned dog food in with Elsie’s kibble, and she started eating again.
She’s the same way with her medicine; she just pretty much refuses to take it. She’s on two different types of pills, and wants nothing to do with either of them. She would take them from Jess (well who wouldn’t?), so it was no big deal for a while, but when Jess went back to work, I had to give them to her, and she wasn’t having any of it. For a while, I could stuff the pills into chunks of hot dog, but she got wise to that; she’d chew up the hot dog, spit the pills out, and then swallow the hot dog.
This caused numerous problems because, for one thing, at this point, the pills smelled like hot dog, so I had to get to them before the other dogs (who seem to believe they are perpetually being starved) scarfed them down, and secondly, now, the pills were all slimy and hard to get hold of, but by the time I caught Elsie (who knew what was coming, and still moves pretty fast for an old dog), they had become spit-glued to my hand, so when I finally got her jaws pried open, the damned pills wouldn’t come off of my fingers. So there I was, having the thumb I was using to keep her mouth open gnawed through, while trying to scrape the pills off my finger with her teeth, without dropping them out of her mouth. It was a traumatic experience for both of us, and there were some days when she just didn’t get her pills.
Meatloaf seemed to solve the problem, at least until the leftovers ran out, but to be honest, I kind of resented having to save the meatloaf leftovers to pack her pills in (I love her, but I also love cold meatloaf sandwiches), and cooking an entire meatloaf just for her seemed like going just too far. I tried just mixing her pills in with her food, but she would eat around them. Trying to keep her comfortable and alive is no easy task.
For now, we’ve solved the problem with peanut butter; we stick the pills in a big glob of it, and stick it to the side of her food bowl. That’s worked for a couple of weeks, but this morning, when she’d finished breakfast, sure enough, there were the pills, spit-glued to the bowl, licked clean of peanut butter. I don’t know what we’ll do if the peanut butter stops working. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve actually thought of going out to the yard, and sticking them into some poo. Hopefully it won’t come to that. Also, I’m not sure she wouldn’t just eat the poo and spit the pills out. It’s really kind of disturbing. She sees the yard as one great big smorgasbord, greedily scarfing down all the recycled dog food she can find, but the stuff she needs, the stuff that will keep her alive and relatively healthy, she will go to any length to avoid.
It seems to me that she approaches food with the same attitude that we humans approach reality. More and more, we seem to seek out the reality we want, the reality that tastes good to us, no matter how shitty it might actually be (and a lot of that poo is really shitty).
For at least a year now, we, as a nation, have been gorging ourselves on an all-you-can-stomach poo buffet, with no sign of slowing down, much less stopping. We schlerp it up on the Facebook and Twitter, on the radio and TV, even go hunting for wilder and more rarified varieties in the untamed jungles of the internet. We just can’t get enough, or at least not enough with our packaging preference (after all, poo is just poo. A dog turd is a dog turd, whether it’s dressed up to suit the purposes of the right or the left). Plus, with electronic poo, with brain poo, there’s always plenty to go around, so we can not only share our favorite poo with all our friends, we can also inflict it on our enemies (’cause that’ll show ’em!). Besides, you know how they say we only use like 5% of our brains (although personally, I think that’s a high estimate for much of the world’s population), so we clearly have lots of poo storage available. Let’s shovel some more in!
Most of the time, it’s not even specific poo, it’s just broad, generic, generalized poo. So much of it is “liberals all do this” or “Conservatives all think that” or “all protesters want to destroy America” or “all politicians are corrupt” (actually, this is one of my own favorites. That’s why I keep using the term “we”).
Granted, sometimes it’s kind of funny – every time I see one of those “shares” that says “Watch Bill O’Reilly DESTROY Obama!” or “Rachel Maddow CRUSHES Mitch McConnell with this argument!”, I get a visual in my head of the allegedly “DEMOLISHED” party exploding, or melting like the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz, which is kinda fun, except it never really happens. They’re never even slowed down, much less destroyed or demolished (That’s one of the problems with the Facebook & Twitter: It gets used by a lot of people who either don’t know what words mean, or just don’t care).
But really, what are our options? Oh sure, there are books we could read, books by great thinkers and writers, who’ve really studied the world & what it means to be human, what it means to be a citizen of the nation or the world, who’ve spent a lot of time trying to answer the big questions, and of course, reading those books might make us wiser and smarter, but isn’t it just easier, more efficient, and just tastier to our brains to just trust the makers of memes read that stuff, digest it, and poop out the important parts? It’s really like being on a diet. Reading Thomas Carlyle or Thomas Paine or Voltaire is just going to turn us into fatheads (especially Carlyle – that guy never used one word when ten would do); it’s just too much. Besides, reading books might make us think, and dammit, we’re Americans! Thinking didn’t make this country great! Getting out and doing stuff made this country what it is today (granted, genocide, slavery, exploitation of immigrants, women, and minorities are some of the things we got out and did, but you’ve gotta take the good with the bad, right?)!
Stuffing ourselves on pre-digested, pre-packaged, intellectual poo leaves lots of brain-room for remembering sports, movie, or book trivia, or to remember all the passwords to our accounts on the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and all the rest (because if we can’t remember our passwords, how are we going to get our yummy intellectual excrement).
Reading and thinking is really just too much like taking our medication or eating healthy; yes, we all know it’s probably better for us, but who has the time? We’ve gotta get out and do stuff – although “getting out and doing stuff” seems to involve a lot more video games, Netflix, and watching other people doing stuff on TV, but why argue semantics? The point is: We’re Americans! We eat Poo! It doesn’t matter whether it’s greasy fast food for our bodies, or intentional misinformation for our brains, we’re apparently not gonna stop.