Over this past Christmas, my parents got me a hedgehog, a pet I've been wanting since I was in high school. Her name is Nettles, and she looks like this:
This is her second home, and her previous owners did not spend that much time with her. It's for that reason that they decided to find her a new place, but as a result she's currently quite skittish and still getting used to being around people. We've been making progress over the past few weeks, but this is about earlier on, when I first changed her bedding.
Since I was on my own, I figured the best way to keep her from getting lost was to put her in the giant exercise ball her previous owners gave us. Once I was done I noticed she had only moved about four inches the whole time. Specifically, just enough to roll herself out of the puddle of urine spreading across the carpet. I figured she'd gotten scared, but once I got her out of the ball I realized she'd pooed in there as well. So, maybe she'd just eaten or something. Is it possible to be so frightened you pee and poo simultaneously? Either way I had to clean the ball, so I decided to scoop the poo out with a tissue and rinse the thing in the bathtub.
However, cleaning the ball out meant involved getting my face close enough to notice that, whatever all she'd done while she was in there, it smelled vile. Like, impossibly bad for the amount of time it had been there. At that point I wondered if fear or happenstance were the only possible motivations. Because it smelled angry.
It wouldn't be the first time I'd been the victim of aggressive poops. Once while I was hiking I felt something hit me in the side. My first though was it had to be a pebble or some kind of large bug, but I looked down and saw that I'd been blasted with an extremely powerful stream of bird poo. The perpetrator was in the shrubs alongside the trail, staring right at me as if to say, "That's right, and what are you gonna do about it? Nothing." And I didn't.
There were also two instances of attack poops during my time working at a department store, one in the elevator, the other in Lawn & Garden. Of the two the elevator poo is more interesting, since it was a moving target by nature of its location. An elderly couple told me it was there, but before I could get to the elevator to shut it down, someone else got inside. I said "HEY" really loud, but the guy just turned around and pushed the button to go upstairs. Right as the doors were closing I saw him jump a bit, like he'd just been startled by a poo he didn't expect, then he just kind of shrugged and the doors closed.
He saw the poo and accepted it. I don't know if it was apathy, some kind of deep and unshakable inner peace, or if he just genuinely didn't mind human poo. In any case, I felt like I'd learned more about him in those few seconds than some of his closest friends and family would ever know.
It was this guy I channeled while cleaning Nettles' exercise ball. I searched myself for the power to shrug in the face of foul-smelling insanity, but failed. Instead I spent the whole time fighting dry heaves. Then I checked on Nettles again, and she was the happiest she'd ever been since we got her. She was prancing around her newly clean cage, snuffling everywhere like the whole world was a new and exciting place she'd never seen before. I caught her attention and she looked at me with the same smug glint in her beady black eyes that bird had on the hiking trail. "You can do nothing."
Like I said, we've been making progress, and so far this is the only aggressive poo incident we've had. Hopefully the last, but who knows? She's figured out who really has the power now, so until I'm able to accept the poo, I'm basically at her mercy.