When You and your Dog Are the Only Ones Who Know What the Purple Ladle is For
Inside jokes with my dog
When I call my dog my best friend, I’m not exaggerating.
My dog, Lucy, and I are so close, we don’t only make memories together, we have inside jokes and secrets as well.
Case in point: The purple soup ladle.
If you’ve ever read any of my work, you’ll know that Lucy is a finicky thing. She comes down with strange ailments the same way pirates always find a captain with a peg leg. After months of testing with our local veterinarian, we still don’t have a definitive answer on the issues that plague our girl.
Her hips are failing her, so she has to bunny hop downstairs, but if she happens to see a rabbit on one of our daily walks, all of her hindquarter follies seem to disappear, and she can run like the wind in chase of the little guy.
She goes through stages of being able to leap over five-foot-tall fences but then only days later can’t manage to lift her legs high enough to even get onto the couch for a cuddle.
Lucy never seems to find an issue climbing onto my head while I'm sitting on the living room floor and painting my nails, then proceeding to hump me vigorously and without mercy despite my pleas.
But she also loves to pretend she doesn’t hear me when I tell her to sit when I have a treat at the ready.
Her most recent issue, discovered a few months ago, was the jaw thing. She woke up one morning unable to open her jaw more than a quarter of an inch wide. This was concerning because she could only eat one kernel of food at a time.
She’s never been a huge eater, but this type of diet still would never do.
So, I took her to the vet and once again, we started with testing. Doc Carla asked me to retrieve a urine sample from Lucy, and because I love my soul dog, I agreed without question.
I was advised that using a soup ladle with a long handle was the best way to retrieve such a sample because, well, it was the safest way to grasp some mid-stream doggy pee without soaking your hand.
“A ladle, you say?” I repeated, wondering if I was hearing her correctly.
I was hearing her correctly.
Lucky for me, I used to own a restaurant, and because I’m sort of a hoarder, I still have a multitude of extra kitchen utensils stored away in our garage. I found a gently used purple ladle in the stack of goodies, thinking I’d remember it due to its odd colour.
Collecting a dog’s urine is not easy. Maybe it is easy for people who are used to sticking random objects between their dog’s legs, but both Lucy and I felt supremely awkward during the entire experience.
Lucy and I were in a bit of a conundrum because I didn’t want to look like the awkward one, walking down the front of my street shoving a purple ladle between my German Shepherd’s legs while she peed, but she refused to pee in the back yard like a normal dog.
I knew she had to go. She kept standing by the back gate and whining while looking back at me nervously. I believe she knew something nefarious was about to go down.
She didn’t like the look of that ladle.
This would be fine, I thought. I’d take her for a little walk down and grab the pee sample while in the relative privacy of the back alley.
Lucy had other plans.
As we strolled along, looking at garage doors and unkempt fences, Lucy kept looking back at me, wondering why I was carrying around the thing that I always dolled out the family’s soup with. Each time she’d stop and squat in what looked like a pee stance, I quickly placed the ladle between her quivering hindquarters in anticipation of the liquid gold I sought.
And every single time, she seemed to sense the foreign object and promptly unsquat herself and resume walking.
We were getting further away from the house, and I was getting worried. I could see the end of the alleyway approaching; we had been walking for a good five minutes! What if she peed now? I’d have to balance the large spoon back home. Why didn’t I bring the specimen cup the vet office gave me on this little stroll?
Just then, a large unseen dog began barking viciously at Lucy and me from behind a fence. I backed away to the other side of the road and desperately tried to pull Lucy away from the fence. Then, another pair of dogs began yipping away from their respective yard right behind us.
Suddenly it seemed we were surrounded by dogs—none of them happy that we were walking in their alleyway.
I don’t blame Lucy for what happened next because, honestly, I almost peed my pants too. Although, I’m not sure it had occurred due to fear or because she knew that I was currently distracted by the dogs and would be too preoccupied to try to ladle up her scent.
It is nearly impossible to get a dog to stop peeing once they’ve started, so upon realizing that she was finally letting flow, I stumbled with my ladle and managed, miraculously, to nab the last bit of pee from her stream.
This all is so gross, I get it, but we do some pretty gross things for the people/animals we love.
There we were, Lucy and I, with a half-full ladle of dog urine, surrounded by angry canines behind flimsy fences and a good five-minute walk back to our house. It seemed that the onset of barking had roused all the dogs on the street, and the route back would be nothing but loud barking doggos.
I know Lucy well, and I knew there was no way we could calmly venture through that scene. Of course, If I hadn’t had an easy-to-spill ladle of pee on my person, I’d probably have risked it.
But returning safely with that pee was the mission, and I’d be dammed if I couldn’t carry out a task as seemingly simple as collecting a urine sample for my sick puppers.
I would get that urine back to the vet if it killed me.
Luckily it didn’t kill me. But it did bruise my ego a tiny bit. I ended up having to walk around the front of the street to avoid all the loud backyard barkers—which meant the indignity of strolling up a busy thoroughfare with a ladle of dog piss.
A fancy jogging couple slowed down at my approach, looked directly into the ladle, and avoided eye contact as they sped up to, I assume, put as much distance between them and whatever the contents of the ladle were as possible.
A small child asked if she could pet my dog, and I screamed, “No! No, you can’t!”
The stress was getting to me.
People were staring at me through their living room windows, probably wondering why a crazy person was balancing a ladle ever so carefully while walking down the sidewalk.
By the time I got home and managed to pour the remaining contents of the ladle into the urine specimen cup, I had just enough for the vet to test. Most of the ladle’s contents were splattered upon my coat in tiny round droplets that did not smell very pleasant but did provide the wafting undertones of accomplishment and triumph.
We still don’t have a concrete diagnosis for Lucy the Dog, but we have found a medication that seems to help her keep weight on and move freely without the hip and jaw issues—and that’s a definite win in my books.
A few weeks ago, my mom was visiting, and as moms tend to do, she was cleaning my house. As I entered the kitchen and looked at the utensils rack, I knew something was wrong immediately. Then it occurred to me.
“Oh, my Gawd, what is that thing doing in here?!” I said pointing to the purple ladle now hanging inconspicuously amongst the other utensils.
“Well, it was just sitting on the table in the garage, so I thought I’d bring it inside,” Mom said defensively.
I looked at Lucy, who wagged her tail in excitement, obviously remembering the day in question, “Um no, that ladle is not used for human consumption.”
As she tends to do, Lucy groaned as she lay on the floor at my feet, then turned her belly skyward for a scratch.
“I don’t get what you mean?” Mom said, looking confused.
And in the end, it didn’t really matter if anyone else understood.
I grabbed the ladle and threw it out, hoping that Lucy and I wouldn’t have such intimate inside jokes between us again, but I was also very grateful that we did.
Lindsay Brown writes stories about topics other than her dog, she swears! Although, Lucy does seem to come up frequently. But look at that face!
Lindsay recently began creating Instagram Reels in hopes of advertising her writing. Instead, she shares funny vids of her dog.