Why some of my clients are so single-mindedly smitten with their pets’ perfect stools I’ll never understand. I mean, what could possibly drive otherwise normal people to succumb to the strange mysteries of the scatological? On behalf of their pets, no less.

Salvador Dalí, I can understand. The man reveled in his rabid brand of bat-crap insanity, but he was an artíst. If he had a thing for reading poop like tea leaves, who are we to intervene?

So, too, it is for my clients, who will accept nothing less than an ideal daily poop from their pets. It’s a harmless enough desire, I figure, but still, it can get kind of annoying. As when a dog that is 100 pecent normal — apart from his lifelong, occasional, unexplained bouts of soft-stoolism — is brought in for frequent and unnecessary examinations. (I have one in particular in mind.)

"If it’s not bothering him, why should it bother you?" I ask.

I should take care to qualify, however. I wouldn’t want you thinking we didn’t test this particular dog for all the obvious and not-so-obvious causes of Dairy Queen-style stool. We have put this dog through all of the reasonable diagnostic paces, stopping short of any invasive tests. (I refuse to go invasive when the dog is otherwise f-i-n-e!)

Yes, sometimes the poop perfection issue gets me to thinking that some pet owners suffer the Münchausen’s by proxy thing. You know, where people act the hypochondriac on behalf of another — a child, a pet, etc. — in order to solicit sympathy and attention.

No, stool does not have to be cylindrical and shiny and dark and arrive in a compact pile, as if on on cue every eight to twelve hours. It only needs to do what is normal for that particular animal.

Sure, "normal" in this case is a relative term that means "typical" or "customary," and yet plenty of chronic diseases can manifest as a lifetime of atypia. It would make sense to be concerned about the first signs of disease. With stools, however, people seem not to be so much worried about illness, but with appearances.

Now, I do understand why those who pick up their pets’ poops on a regular basis might be concerned about the character of their charges’ stools. But otherwise? Why stress so much? Why place so much importance on a thing so fetid and foul? Why rotate bag after bag of food, and play with recipes and additives in search of that elusive, idealized stool?

Which sometimes makes me wonder: Could it be that the drive to perfect pet poop is just another manifestation of some peoples’ extreme, control-freaky ways?

I think Dalí might have had a thing or two to say about this. And Freud would almost certainly have laid these poopy people out on his couch. And honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed either of them for opining on the source of such scatological musings. After all, I just wrote a whole post on it.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Don't poop on Noordwijk grass!" by caddymob