We used to take Cricket on two mile walks around our old neighborhood and, yes, the first ten times she peed there may have been some actual liquid coming out, but by the thirteenth time? No. And yet, she’d still squat down to leave her message, even if not a drop of pee could be produced. This is wishful peeing.
Ideally Cricket would know ahead of time how many messages she will need to leave, and be able to control how much pee to leave for each message, but she’s not that forward thinking. She’s also not the one who decides when the walks will happen, or where the walks will take her. And no one can really know ahead of time how many pee mails she will need to answer.
Dogs use pee as a complex messaging system. I can’t say that I understand how the system works. My nose is not attuned to the specific notes they can pick up that tell them: Pug, after breakfast, eats dry food, misses her Mommy. But each message is more than just a simple ID card; it must be ever changing, or else they wouldn’t keep rechecking. Cricket sniffs Butterfly’s butt a few times a day for new information, and she certainly doesn’t need her basic info anymore.
Maybe there are pee Haiku where the dog is expressing joy at being outdoors and seeing a butterfly, or grief at having missed her friend by just seconds. Some dogs may pee in sonnets, of love for the Chihuahua down the road with the hand knitted sweater who always smells of butterscotch and rosemary. And some would ramble on, and go off on tangents, and repeat themselves with endless references to chicken treats lost in puddles never to be eaten again.
There is a whole world of literature hidden in dog urine. Maybe some day scientists will find a way to decipher the code and open us to the wonder that is pee.
When we were finally able to go on a long walk again, recently, after a summer of heat and rain and just general grumpiness on my part, I realized that Butterfly has learned all about pee mail and leaving an endless trail of messages along the way. I couldn’t keep count of the number of pees my two dogs attempted to leave, but it became clear early on that there was very little liquid being deposited, if any, after the first few messages.
My girls seem very happy with themselves when they squat for the fifteenth time along the route, but I just wonder how exquisitely sensitive a dog’s nose would have to be to recognize that a message had been left at all.
“It’s the thought that counts,” Mom said. I think she also said this when my brother brought a pancake as a present to a friend’s birthday party in high school, and it turned out that she was right. The laugh made all the difference.