During Arlo’s recent visit, I discovered that the two large trash receptacles at the north end of the local city park have been removed for the season. I’d made a habit of routing all dog walks past that corner. The walks are a little less pleasant now that I have to lug steaming bags of turds for the whole duration of the walk. And for the record, insulating them with fallen leaves doesn’t seem to help reduce the stench waves; I’d actually thought there might be a blocking effect, but no such luck.
I am curious about the whole phenomena of picking up after one’s dog. It is not something I remember from my childhood. My earliest years were spent out in the country, where there were no close neighbors. It wasn’t remotely an issue there. But we moved to a subdivision eventually, and brought the five dogs along. We never once followed them around with plastic bags, and we weren’t neighborhood pariahs or anything. Well, not for that reason, anyway: none of the neighbors picked up after their dogs either. It did get pretty nasty, especially in the spring when the snow first melted. I remember going around the yard with a wheelbarrow and shovel.
With those memories in mind, I’ve always been grateful as an adult to those dog owners courteous enough to clean up after their pets. No one wants to step on dog shit in their front lawn, an experience that’s particularly bitter when you don’t even own a dog. I wish our current next door neighbors could keep a better control over their charming golden retriever’s eliminations. Mowing the lawn invariably detonates at least one shit bomb. So I definitely recognize the value of doggie hygiene.
However, appreciation doesn’t necessarily translate into eagerness. The first time we dogsat for Arlo when Dad & D were out of town, back at the old apartment, I asked them, “I don’t have to pick up his crap, do I?” Dad told me I had to watch the neighbors. If they picked up the poos, I had to, too. And that was that, I knew I was doomed. Everyone does it now, everyone who walks their dogs at least. Those who just open the door and let doggy run free seem to be exempt.
So what happened? Don’t get me wrong. Not having my lawn covered with fecal matter is a good thing. But, when did scooping poop become the norm? What precipitated this cultural shift? How did it go from something peculiar to the expectation?