Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Poop Under My Fingernails

I'm like anyone else. I have a love-hate relationship with my job. But today was epic.

I got poop under my fingernails. And how many of you can claim that joy during your 9 to 5?

It started out like any other day. I climbed into my car, drove off with a bag of nuts on my roof (which I was not able to relocate upon coming home), and arrived at the station almost on time.

I had an interview scheduled with the founder and director of Chain of Hope, Kate Quigley. Through her organization, Kate seeks to help neglected animals in Kansas City.

Meeting Kate, I instantly liked her. She's a no-nonsense, let's-get-things-done kinda gal. She's got this sense of urgency that's energizing. And she's friendly.

With an intern in tow, we climbed into Kate's new, white van. Our first stop was pretty uneventful: two chained dogs, but they were very much alive.

But on our second, Kate loaded a dead, bloated dog in the back of the van. From there she took it to an area humane society where the volunteers retrieved it and chucked it inside the already half-full incinerator. Naturally, they wouldn't let me shoot this, but the pictures remain vivid in my head.

A couple stops later, my camera was on the ground and I was in a tree hanging fly bait. When did my duties change? After the fly bait (which coincidentally spilled all over me--gross) was hung, there was hay to be spread. No problem, right?


On my third handful of hay, I scooped up poop. With my hand. And not only my hand, my fingernails.

Yeah, it was AWESOME. Smooshy, smelly, gross, and altogether disgusting.

I looked at the intern, paralyzed with icky angst. 

"Drop it!" she says.

The horror of it all had me in shock. Why I held it for more than a nanosecond is beyond me. I dropped it and "washed" my hands with the remaining clean hay. Water would have been my first choice, but sometimes one has to improvise.

Once finished, I walked back to the van shushing my inner diva. If Kate can do this, so can I, I thought. But then again, I was the only one who smelled like dog feces, fly bait, and sweat, which was now seeping through my shirt. Classy.

Think my day was done? Nope. Kate gets an emergency call. Another dog on death's door.

We get there, and again, I'm refused the opportunity to shoot. But what happens is Kate rescues this emaciated, maggot-infested Rottweiler from the cruelest of conditions. The owner says it wouldn't eat, but we discovered he loved hot dogs. He loved them so much, in fact, that while rushing to open another package, I spilled the delicious juices all over my pants, by the crotch. Of course. And for the record, even after a workout, swim and shower, I still smell like fly bait.

Like I said, today was epic. It's not every day I get to climb a tree and scoop poop for a paycheck. Now that I think about it, it sounds like a job worthy of Mike Rowe.


In truth, today was emotionally taxing. I wish people would take care of their pets. It's not that difficult.

Wanna know more? Check out my story on Chain of Hope (in a few days) at


Hope said...

oh.. so sad! It's true! Jacksonville, Fl has same problem. I loved your story though!

Seraphine said...

i have a friend who volunteered at an animal shelter. it was very sad to hear that so many animals are put down because they didn't have homes. her stories were so painful-- she didn't like to tell them and i didn't like to hear them.
the thing is, much of it could be avoided by simply having pets neutered or spayed. and there are many organizations-- the humane society publishes a list online-- that will help you if you can't afford to spay your pets yourself.

getting poop under your fingernails... well sarah, i don't think anyone is going to help you with that past your tenth birthday.
just don't lick your fingers after eating that bag of nuts (if you should ever find it).

Tali said...

What a day! We were nice and smelly after that experience. Pete is in a better place, and I am sure it is happy now.
P.S. You forgot about the almost flat tire!!

Sarah J Clark said...

Hope - so glad u love your pups.

Sera - Definitely wasn't licking my fingers yesterday.

Tali - I figured fly bait, dog feces and maggot-infested canines was enough. Me hanging out the window, nearly getting impaled by the tripod, checking to see if the van had a flat tire seemed trivial in comparison. ;) Glad u went along for the ride.