Pessimism, Poop, and Positive Perceptions
So, I’m basically a pessimist. If you ask me if the glass is half empty or half full, I’ll tell you it’s half full. That’s because I’ve trained myself to do that, to deny the fact that I’m a pessimist.
At least I think I’m a pessimist. But then again, faced with a deadly sick animal, I can’t shake the tiny flicker of hope that maybe this one will beat the odds and get better. However, the louder, more persistent voice in my head says: "Fat chance, Viv. Better tell these folks not to buy the big bag of cat food."
When I reflect on my life experiences, I tend to fixate on only the negative things that happened. This is true even for my daydreams. For example, I could wake up looking like Angelina Jolie, win the lottery, and have a fabulous lunch with Johnny Depp. Unfortunately for me, when I go to work after lunch with Johnny, I get yelled at by a client over the bill.
This single event would be enough to ruin the whole day.
I’m going to try to turn over a new leaf, though. It’s going to require conscious effort on my part. Despite what horrible things might happen over the course of a day, I’m going to write down (in a journal or my calendar or maybe another blog) only the good things that happen. This will by my effort to try and remember the good stuff.
So, today for example: I normally take Mia, my black Lab, with me when I walk to school with the kids. Mia normally poops at home before we go, but sometimes, rarely, she saves it for the walk.
I’m an inconsistent "doggie doo-doo bag" (as the kids call it) carrier. Sometimes I forget the bag and go back and pick up the poo later. Sometimes I don’t. It depends on the weather conditions (will it rain soon and obliterate the evidence? I mean, you can’t get much more biodegradable than feces, right? It is fertilizer.), the location of the poop (is it in the forest, away from where people will step on it, etc.), my spotty memory, etc. Again, this is rare. I usually do pick it up.
Today, however, was a day I forgot the bag. I stood there helplessly while Mia hunkered over, just off the walking path doing her "business." I even chastised her for not going in the forest (where she was chasing squirrels just before the current situation) or at home (which is less than a block away).
Just then a lady approaches me, sneering, and asks: "You’re going to pick that up, right?" "Yes," I replied, "I just don’t have a bag at the moment."
At this point I’m trying to be jovial and ironic. She’ll have none of it, though. She then proceeds to insinuate that I am a serial non-poop picker-upper. "You walk your dog here every day and I saw it do this two weeks ago."
At this point, adrenaline kicked in. I’m fully aware that I’ve been caught red-handed, but I’m horribly embarrassed and this lady isn’t being nice. Heart thundering in my chest (I really don’t like confrontation) I declare, "It wasn’t my dog."
"Well, it was a black or chocolate lab," she says. (A-Ha! She doesn’t even know what dog it was, she’s trying to make me the patsy!) "You should pick it up, it’s gross," she adds with a snarl.
I stammer, "It wasn’t my dog, I usually pick it up." (And frankly, between you and me, what’s gross is picking up the warm, squishy, steaming pile with your bare hands in that 1 angstrom thick plastic bag. What’s really gross is then finding out there’s a hole in the bag!)
Meanwhile, she looks at me accusingly with her beady little eyes … like I’m a criminal.
… like she sees into my wretched, irresponsible dog owner soul.
…like she’s been hiding in the bushes, just waiting to catch me in the act.
"I’ll pick it up," I mutter, looking longingly at my home, just steps away. (Why, oh why didn’t you poop there, Mia?) The beady eyes continue to bore into me, as if to say, "You'd better."
Here’s where the positive part comes in, though. After having a cup of coffee and stewing about it a bit, I fetched a bag and went to do the walk of shame to pick up the incriminating pile, only to find someone had scooped it for me. I’m going to choose to believe that someone did it out of the kindness of their heart.
I paid it forward by picking up another wayward doggie deposit that was nearby.
So today will be remembered not as the day I was accosted by an angry pet patroller for my delinquent doody behavior, but for the kind soul who took it upon his- or herself to make the world a cleaner place by picking up another dog's pile.
Dr. Vivian Cardoso-Carroll