The Zen Practice Of Picking Up Dog Poop

Mental Health Medicine

Especially in a COVID-19 world, a person’s mental health is more important than ever. It’s been interesting to hear about the activities and hobbies that our friends and family members have been doing to help alleviate the stress in their lives. A couple of our friends started teaching yoga classes, which has become a popular and relaxing exercise. Some of them relied on other exercises to manage anxiety, such as CrossFit and cycling.  And we’ve even had a friend teach themselves how to crochet. We originally found the idea of a thirty-something year old professional crocheting a little comical, but after thinking about it, the act of crocheting being therapeutic makes perfect sense. It’s repetitive, you’re using your hands, and you can do it while watching TV or chatting on the phone.

With all due respect, I’m not a crochet kind of guy. However, Erin and I have also found ourselves feeling the effects of the pandemic, so we needed to find our “crochet.” The passing of our grandmothers last year was a trying time for us and we had reached our stress peak. So starting a few months ago, we started experimenting with some self-help suggestions, in addition to running on the treadmill and reading.  To no surprise, Erin found that journaling regularly and meditation was and is having a positive impact on her state of mind.  I, on the other hand, missed the boat on meditation, because meditation was just code for me to take a nap. And as for journaling, well, does me venting my issues and strange tendencies on our blog when it’s supposed to be used to write about fostering kids and dogs count as journaling?

Puzzles….Not Just For Senior Citizens

Early in the Pandemic, Erin and I found working on puzzles together to be a calming activity. I previously wrote a little about the unexpected advantages of crocheting and the same could be said about puzzles. You can do it while you drink a beer, you can do it while on your rear, you can even do it when there’s sports on TV and you want to cheer! We’re so nerdy, now that I think about it, I feel kind of bad about making fun earlier of our friend who likes to crochet. We went so far as to buy several puzzles online so we always having one to work on at the dining room table. I mean, that’s what the dining room table is for right? In the Jesswein house you eat dinner on the floor with a dog right by your side in case you drop anything. No table required.

In addition to eating dropped food off the floor, Callie has been known for putting dropped puzzle pieces in her mouth and then spitting them out, thus making them unusable. I guess we need to get a bigger table!

But the thing that has probably brought us the most joy involving the puzzles has been the “puzzle swaparoo” we’ve started with my Grandma J. Quick backstory, my Grandma Jesswein is 92 years old and although not as active anymore, her mind is still pretty sharp. She enjoys reading mystery novels, completing word searches, and…..wait for it…..doing puzzles! So every time we’re in South Bend and visit with her, we make sure to take a couple of puzzles with us, either to return to her, or to have her try and complete. In return, she’ll give us a few that she’s gotten from her friends. I use the term “friends” loosely here, because if you follow us on Instagram, you’ve seen the issues we’ve had with Grandma’s friend Midge.  Midge somehow manages to keep exactly one piece for herself when she gifts a puzzle. I’d like to think that the thought of a little old lady purposefully removing a puzzle piece just to mess with us as preposterous, but you never know! Maybe that’s how Midge gets her jollies.

It’s Not Like I LOVE Picking Up Crap

Does anyone really love picking anything up?! I’m almost forty and my back absolutely hates the idea of me picking anything up over fifty pounds…..sorry Erin, no more piggy back rides to Broad Ripple, doctors orders! Granted, that falls on me and my workout regimen. I should put as much effort into squats and deadlifts that I do into four mile jogs while watching Ozark. I am being a little facetious to emphasize the point that most people don’t like picking up after their pets. Perfect examples of this include the fact that cat owners are so lazy they rely on a sandbox for their pet’s waste maintenance. As well as the number of dog walkers we observe slyly looking away when their dog makes in someone else’s yard.  Just kidding about the cat part!  Not kidding about the people who don’t pick up after their dog.  That’s just inconsiderate.

Six Pack’s pretty good about staying still while you clean up his mess. Unless of course a Dachshund or squirrel is around.

On the other hand, Ebony, like most fosters, had more of a “poop and run” attitude

Not this guy though. The best therapy I think I’ve ever had has been our greyhounds and not for the reasons you would think. Let me preface this by saying that people who say walking their dog can be calming has never taken Callie, Six Pack, or the majority of our fosters on a walk. Our last foster greyhound, Ebony completed the trifecta of distraction. Three separate, short, and aggressive attention spans. To make matters worse, the weather in January and early February didn’t really cooperate, so all three had to layer up before we headed out the door. That in itself is a process with all of the hopping, jumping, and tail wagging. In any weather, taking the brats for a walk isn’t exactly something I look forward to, especially by myself.


Regardless of whether it’s picking up after them on a walk, or waiting until the smell is overwhelming to pick up their business in the backyard, I find cleaning up after my dogs the best therapy for yours truly. It’s been a little over a month since I had to say goodbye to Ebony and let her start her life with her forever family. You know what, the snow in the backyard has been melted for a couple of weeks. Maybe I’ll go pick up some poops.

This article has 1 comments

  1. Mary Louden Reply

    Loved the article. Honestly, cleaning up dog poop in my greyhounds’ backyard has always been calming & motivating to me. Go figure. And when I clean up poo on a walk I am secretly hoping that there are folks watching who think to themselves, “What a responsible dog walker! Everyone should be like her.” Sometimes I am known to shame folks who leave it behind by saying out loud to the dogs I walk, “I know — some folks are just pigs.” Of course I only say this if they are no where in sight. I don’t want to get shot. And don’t get me started on folks who bag it and leave it on the walk, even they “plan to get it on the return trip”. 🙂

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