Mastering the art of fecal concealment


These clients dutifully bring in their pet's stool samples to the veterinary clinic each visit-and help the packaging industry thrive.

Every time Mrs. Labyrinth comes to my office, she brings a large shopping bag. You see, she worries about her dog's "toity pot" and wants me to test a sample. Inside the bag there's a quantity of folded newspaper surrounding a large Tupperware bowl. The bowl is packed full with aluminum foil. Dissection of the foil boulder reveals a peanut butter jar encased in plastic wrap. The jar contains two individually wrapped nuggets—these are the objects of her concern: Blossom's "toity pot."

Yes, we give out little containers that are made just for this purpose. However, they are not secure enough for the likes of Mrs. L.

Are her elaborate efforts at stool sample wrapping unusual? Of course not. We all have veterinary clients like her. But she is a true master of the art of fecal concealment. She can turn a three-gram sample into an impenetrable cross between a Sherman tank and a work of modern art.

Now, we veterinarians aren't at all surprised when our veterinary clients take these elaborate measures, because we see it every day. However, suppose someone who wasn't a veterinarian saw this behavior. It could certainly give the wrong impression.

If observers from some far-off planet came to Earth and witnessed Mrs. Labyrinth preparing such a sample, surely they'd suspect that those two precious nuggets being treated with such care and apparent reverence were quite valuable. Perhaps they'd assume that these gems bore a deep religious significance to earthlings. Otherwise why would they be handled with such complex and ceremonial measures?

The truth is the space travelers' assumptions would not be far from correct. The well-being of the American economy, and morale as well, hinges on the stool sample. Sure, we veterinarians make a few paltry dollars per stool by testing it and giving out some worm pills now and then. But that's only the beginning of the story. The revenue generated by testing stools represents only the tip of the economic iceberg.

The real profit in the fecal industry is generated from the excessive use of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, sandwich bags, Tupperware, plastic cups and, of course, duct tape. Production of these materials represents a huge percentage of our country's gross national product. A decrease in the demand for stool sample camouflage could cripple these industries and bring our economy to its knees. Perhaps we weren't so wrong when, as little children, we referred to the scattered, shoe-soiling morsels on the lawn as "doggie diamonds."

Not only does this precious commodity control the purse strings of our country, it has a good grip on the heartstrings as well. Many clients have a fixation with their pet's bowel habits.

For example, Mrs. Bell (a real ding-a-ling) called last week when her dog failed to do his "dooty."

"Hello, Doctor. I'm very upset. My dog, Logjam, failed to do his 'jobby' this morning. My neighbor said it could be diabetes or distemperment. Can I give him anything?"

I knew from the pooch's recurrent history that there were two ways to get him to produce without fail. The first option was to simply wait a few hours and he would perform later in the day. The second was to give him a glimpse of my waiting room floor. I opted for the former.

So there you have it, folks—the one thing that holds our society together both financially and emotionally is the stool sample. Surely as news of this revelation leaks out, the value of stools will skyrocket. People may even begin to smuggle them into our country from nations where they can be obtained more cheaply. Soon our customs officials will have to train dogs to sniff baggage at airports and international borders in order to find contraband stool samples. That could put an end to the illegal fecal flow—unless the smugglers get Mrs. Labyrinth on their payroll.

Dr. Michael Obenski owns Allentown Clinic for Cats in Allentown, Pa.

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