I was surprised recently to discover that my children did not know what “dog doo” is. And no, that is not because they have lived a sheltered life! When I was a kid, in the 70’s and 80’s, dog doo was the stuff that you avoided on the sidewalk, or had to scoop up from the lawn with a trowel. Now that designation has changed to “dog poop.” Apparently, “poop” has become a polite enough word that we no longer need the (questionably) gentler euphemism of “dog doo.” I suspect that we may be able to thank Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz for some of this linguistic change. Oprah and Dr. Oz began using the word “poop” on the air as early as 2006 (let me know if you are aware of an earlier occasion). They made this previously unmentionable word something that could be said out loud in public without being rude — or at least, not as rude as before.
Personally, I am grateful for this change. At the dinner table, someone inevitably — and politely! — asks, “So, how was your day?” Poop frequently factors into the answer, given my line of work as a pediatric GI specialist (or “poopologist,” as one of my colleagues calls me). My children have learned to be very frank about body functions, and by extension, about other details of their lives which might more typically be a cause for embarrassment. Before they go to spend the night at a friend’s house, I sometimes feel the need to remind them that not everybody talks about these things at the dinner table! Having said that… we do have our limits. Unnecessary mentions and excessive details are not encouraged, and we have to keep a “lid” on the joking. Whether you call it doo, poo, poop, or something else, kids seem always to love bathroom humor — and to hate cleaning up after the dog.
Rebecca Cherry, MD, is a pediatric gastroenterologist (GI) at Pediatric Specialty Partners in San Diego. She has 3 children and 2/7 of a dog.