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Don’t Be Shitty. Being Neighborly About Dog Poop

Most of you probably don’t receive Google Alerts. Honestly, until I invented the dooloop and started my business, I had no idea the Alerts even existed. A Google Alert finds, flags and shows you trending articles that include keywords or topics you have chosen. It’s a great way to keep on top of trends you care about. In my case, that would be “dog poop!” (You can sign up to be alerted to dog poo news, too. It’s free).

Now, you’d think dog poop would be mentioned on the internet by people who are talking about pet care needs, dog walking services, environmental impact, gross poo jokes (it’s a whole genre, potty humor), veterinary issues, market growth of dog products, and other normal poop stuff. Everybody poops, so there will always be issues to discuss. ‘Twas always this way and will always be so.

But holy cow, what is going on? My Google Alert has been filling up with stories from around the world about people losing their shit over doggie doo-doo! We’re talking screaming altercations, vandalism, stabbings even shootings, for Pete’s sake. This is way beyond the old-fashioned pranks like a flaming turd bag, or the more upscale and industrious “poopsenders.com,” where people literally pay to send their least-favorite person some poop.

Are we losing our collective minds? And how can we facilitate being safe and neighborly again when it comes to our pets’ daily “dooty.”

A quick history of bagging pooch poop

Every living thing poops. Let’s look back a few decades (not that many) when dogs pooped and people frequently had to clean the bottom of their shoes. No one liked dog poo being around, but dogs pooped where they wanted to, and that was pretty much it.

Someone, somewhere, suggested it’d be less gross if people bagged that s#*t. In 1978, New York State passed the Pooper-Scooper Law, to much controversy, but soon picking up poo became the new normal. The use of a nifty portable clean-up tool and bagger is credited to Brooke Daniel Miller of Anaheim, California, who filed for and was awarded a patent for a poop-bagging device in 1999. A new industry was born, and pooper scooper regulations and rules were enacted by municipalities, HOA’s and other local groups.

I think we can all stop for a minute here and just agree that stepping around – let alone stepping in — smelly, germ-infested poop is disgusting. Cleaning up after our pups just makes for a neater yard, nicer parks, healthier natural areas, and a nicer community all around.

How to avoid triggering sh*t

So, what to do about it?

Well, if you’re a dog family and you walk your doggos outside of your yard, never leave home unprepared. Have enough poop bags for any eventuality – the expected poop, the unexpected poo, and the “oh no! what did they eat?” poo. Just be prepared – it beats all the alternatives. 

Scooping is good, but apparently, it’s not always enough or we wouldn’t have arguments, assaults, and murders. What are people getting triggered by and why do they devolve into violence?

#1. Google Alerts and Dear Abby are telling me that putting your pup’s poop in someone else’s trash can instead of carrying it home to your own, even on trash day, is a serious doo DON’T.  It makes for an unexpectedly nasty-smelling bin on hot days. Poop bags can get left behind by trash haulers if they gets squished to the bottom of the trash can. Making someone else’s property reek simply isn’t neighborly, and it’s no surprise that people get frustrated and angry.

#2. The infamous “bag-and-bug,” — setting a bag of poop down and bugging out to "pick it up later" – is a hard NO. You might have forgotten it, but everyone who sees it the rest of the day will remember. Worse, they’ll feel that dog owners are irresponsible, and that we should make even more rules about where dogs can and can’t go. I’ve also personally watched other passing dogs leave their own calling card by peeing on the pungent, left-behind bags.  Double yuck :/   Also, leaving poop behind could give some unkind prankster ammunition for their own poop-smearing vandalization. Who will be blamed? Dogs and dog walkers. So, help maintain goodwill by carrying poop home.

#3. Pooping on someone else’s lawn happens. You can’t always control where your dog cops a squat, but please scoop thoroughly. Best-poop-practice would be to nudge your pooch to poo nearer to you and the curb instead of in your neighbor’s green lawn. ‘Curb your dog” signs used to be all over our cities. While it’s not always possible to redirect your pup’s butt, trying is still a good goal.

Now, I’m going to address the controversy, so strap in!

Diplomacy versus defensiveness in the Great Poop Wars

We are a community of dog people, cat people, people who love animals but don’t own pets, and also people who don’t really want to share their lives with a pet – and that’s OK. If we recognize our respective positions and responsibilities, and appreciate that we have different mindsets, we can largely avoid name-calling, vandalization, and certainly assault.

How, you ask? 

  • Never weaponize your pooches need to ‘go’. Keep your dog on or near friendly territory and avoid places where you know they are not welcome. Your poor dog just needs to do their business. Their poop isn’t a statement of belief, just a moment of relief. By sticking to dog-friendly areas whenever possible and being prepared to pick up after your pup no matter where the poo falls, you are publicly exhibiting your care for your canine companion and your neighbors. This helps keep dogs welcomed and loved by the community.
  • Good intentions and actions, coupled with earnest regret or an apology if things go to shit, goes a long way toward avoiding confrontation. Defensiveness over poop just seems silly doesn’t it? If you pick up poop quickly, you’ll avoid most confrontations. If a lawn-owner yells before you can bend and scoop, quickly take care of the mess, show them the full bag, apologize, and move on. Enjoy the rest of your walk. Make a mental note and walk another way if that is roughly the time your dog always needs to ‘go’ after leaving the house. Your dog’s instinct is to go when needed and to align his poop placement to magnetic north, (yes, a study reported this finding). Your instinct doesn’t need to be getting defensive over it. Defending dog shit isn’t worth the energy, and worse yet, an escalated argument may harm your dog or someone else.

Share an olive branch and dooloop the poop

Now we’ve arrived at the strong-armed product pitch, lol… A dooloop is incredibly handy for one dog poop, but it’s like a gift from the gods if your dog poops twice, you’re walking two dogs, or trying to drink your morning coffee juggling warm bags of poo while managing multiple leashes.

Don’t think a dooloop really makes that big a difference? Try it and report back on your experience. A poop bag doesn’t even always have to be knotted to stay on the dooloop. Just make sure to pull the bag through far enough to be securely held. After all the dooloop isn’t magic – it’s recycled plastic.

Look, ‘shooting the shit’ while walking and talking with neighbors and other dog parents is great, but leaving shit behind out of forgetfulness or on purpose isn’t. The planet needs our help. By picking up our dog’s poop, we individually make a difference that is impactful: protecting the water table, soil, and wildlife. By making sure we don’t leave a mess behind, we contribute to neighborliness and a caring community.

It makes me happy to have come up with one solution that could help head off literal murder! Yes, that may seem like a stretch, but then who would expect that dog poop would ever become a weapon in neighborhood disputes? Let’s not let this simple shit turn our caring communities into “crazy town.”

We members of the dog-loving community owe it to our canine companions to keep up our end of the bargain by taking care of the little doodoo they give us to handle. After all, they are giving us joy, laughter, and so much unconditional love.

The bottom line? Shit happens. It’s how we deal with it that makes all the difference. Spread peace, not poo. These are words every dog parent should live by.

 

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