A few weeks ago I took my family to the mall to visit the puppy store. Let me say up front that we did not buy a puppy. We had no intention of buying a puppy. Even though I would love to have a dog, this is not the right season in our life to get one. We were simply visiting the store so my daughter could play with a cute little puppy for a few minutes. At this particular store they encourage customers to play with the puppies even if you have no intent to buy. It's good for the puppies to get out of their cages, and they charge a nominal fee that goes to an animal charity. So we looked at all the puppies through the glass, and then my daughter picked out a blue heeler. They brought him out and we stepped inside a small play room where we could visit with him. It all went downhill from there.
As soon as I touched him, he peed. And he kept peeing. Over, and over, and over. Every time we tried to pet him, he peed. This dog couldn't have weighed more than a few pounds. But it seemed like he peed enough to fill a five gallon bucket. Seriously, he would not stop peeing. They had a roll of paper towels in the play room. We went through about half the roll. He peed on my shoes, on my pants, on the dog toy, and on himself. Somehow my wife and daughter seemed to avoid the pee. But not me. I managed to get peed on enough for all three of us. After we tried everything we could do to get the dog to stop peeing, we finally gave up. We began looking for one of the employees to come and get the dog, but there were none to be found. In their defense, the store was busy. It was at this point that things got worse. The dog went over to the corner of the play room and decided he needed to poop as well.
Let me explain the situation a little better. The room we were in was more like a 4ft x 4ft, open-air cubicle. The walls are only about 4ft high as well. So there's not a lot of room to move around. And poop, as we all know, smells bad. Really bad. The puppy did his business on the floor right in front of us, and the aroma filled the room immediately. It was gross. Not only was it gross for us. It was gross for everyone around us in the store. The stench spread quickly. Once again, there were no workers to be found. On top of all of this, I've got a floor covered in dog urine and a toddler trying to play with the dog that pees every time you touch him. So I made the decision that it was time for my family to evacuate. I grabbed my daughter, opened the door and ran out, leaving my wife behind to fend for herself. (Husband of the year award?) My wife looked at me with a sense of desperation and asked me what she should do. I told her to come out and leave the dog behind. She didn't want to, but I insisted, so she made her escape. As my wife was leaving the room, the puppy tried to come with her. We were able to keep him contained in the play room, but in the process he ended up stepping/rolling in his own poop. I know, this is gross. But we lived it. You just have to read it.
Then my wife asked, "What do we do now?" I replied, "We leave!" She said, "We can't just leave the puppy like this," and I said, "I'll find an employee, let them know what happened, and they will take care of it." So I walked around the store until I spotted the employee who brought us the dog. I got his attention from across the store and yelled, "Hey, the dog you brought us is still in the play room, and... he pooped. So we are gonna go. Thanks!" At this point most people in the store were tuned in to our conversation. I felt super awkward. Then things got worse.
The employee yelled back across the room and asked, "Well, did you clean it up?"
I was so surprised by his response that I had to take a minute to process what he just said. "Did I clean it up? Did he really just ask me that? Is this a joke? He's not smiling. I don't think he's joking. How would I even clean it up? There's no trash can. Does he want me to bring him a pile of dog poop on a paper towel? He can't be serious. Is it April Fool's Day? No, that's already come and gone. I think he's serious. I'm not sure what to do here." So after a moment of shock, I replied, "I'm sorry, I think I misheard you. What did you say?" Then he said, "Did you clean it up? You are supposed to clean up after your pet." I was floored. I was blown away. I was flabbergasted. (I think this is the first time I've ever used the word flabbergasted).
At this point, I'm standing there, covered in dog pee, I'm holding my toddler in my arms, and I'm having a conversation with this guy in front of twenty or so customers about cleaning up dog poop. So I responded by saying, "I'm sorry man, but that's not my pet. I don't own that dog. I'm not going to clean up his poop." Then he said, "Well the sign says you are supposed to clean up after your dog." I looked at my wife with complete confusion. She looked back at me with a similar expression. Then I said, "Once again, I'm sorry man. I never saw a sign, but either way, that's not happening." Then I turned to my wife and said, "It's time to go!" With that, the employee angrily went and retrieved the puppy, and we left the store as quickly as we could. Talk about a great trip to the puppy store, huh?
O.k. so I promise I didn't have you read all of that just for your own entertainment. There is a point to the story. So allow me to try and turn this into something helpful. Here's at least what I learned from it.
The real test of commitment is when things get messy.
The reason why I wouldn't clean up the mess is because I was not committed to that dog in the least. The puppy wasn't mine. He didn't belong to me. I was just there to let my daughter play with a cute little ball of fur for a few minutes. I wasn't there to add a new member to my family. I had no personal investment in this dog. I had no personal commitment to this dog. Therefore, when the crap hit the fan, or in this case the floor, I was out. It would have been a completely different situation if he was mine. If he belonged to me, I would have been on my hands and knees, cleaning up the mess. If I was truly committed to him, then I would have stuck it out and done whatever was necessary to clean it up.
This is true for all of our relationships isn't it? The more committed you are in a relationship, the more likely you'll stick it out through the mess. The real test of your commitment level isn't when things are great. The real test is when the crap happens. And it will happen. It's easy to buy into the lie that a great relationship will never experience a mess. But that's just not true. Great relationships are the ones that fight through the mess and make it to the other side, together.
So here's the question you have to ask yourself. Is the relationship worth fighting for? In the case of the defecating dog, it wasn't. But hopefully for you, in your marriage, in your family, it is. And if it is, then you'll stick around even when it's messy.
That's all I've got for you this time. I hope this blog gave you a good laugh, but even more importantly, I hope it encouraged you in your relationships. If you'd like to receive this blog to your inbox, you can subscribe by clicking here.