Each Mud Season -- aka “spring” outside of Maine -- brings renewal and regrowth. We have time to reflect on what we’ve learned from the last year and are excited to plan new summer projects. A good spring cleaning and some fun summer planning is just the ticket to rejuvenation!
For many families with dogs, this is literally a sh*tty job. Some of us didn’t do a diligent post-poop ‘recon’ in our yards when it was dark and cold this winter, so we’re left picking up these 'not-mud' pies in spring. April brings more than May flowers!
But don't get totally hung up on the dirty jobs that need doing. Yes, we have to attend to them, but spring is the perfect opportunity to reenergize your soul with a mixture of accomplishment and fun. It's also a great time to renew your commitment as a dog-loving steward of the planet.
Grab your dooloop and let's go!
Greening up the yard and garden
“Greening up” is a much more enjoyable and optimistic way of looking at spring chores than the drudgery of “cleaning up.” Don’t be bummed about unfinished tasks left over from last year. We’ve all got ‘em. It wouldn’t be spring without new sticks in the yard, gardens to clean up, and home improvement projects to plan.
- Toss last year’s to-do list and start a brand new one. Don’t put last autumn’s undone tasks at the top of your spring list. Put optimistic spring tasks at the top and fit those old tasks into the coming season where they belong. Make a game out of asking your dog to help pick up those sticks in the yard. It's likely they'll get attached to at least one perfect stick, so you'll probably need to keep a few around for future games. Love the simple pleasures!
- Add fun stuff to that to-do list. Pencil in your vacation days and notify your employer before coworkers grab all the good ones. Plan some one-day trips to enjoy with your dog, too, like a hike at a park, a weekend camping trip, barbeque with friends, doggy playdates, family visits – all the good stuff that makes spring and summer stretch out more enjoyably.
- Do one small task every day. Keep your momentum going by picking just one small, manageable task to complete each day. Rake up last year's leaves, wash the cover your dog’s porch bed, or drag away the Christmas tree if it's still hanging out in the side yard. If you finish up a big project – that’s awesome! But even if you get just one small chore done, that's still an accomplishment you can look back on at the end of the day.
- Tackle the short list of stinky tasks, first. Yeah, we really don’t look forward to doing them, but there are some chores that get worse the longer we wait. Winter dog poop is easier to scoop before the grass grows tall. Does the mower start? It's better to find out now than later. Make a super-short list of things that could become a super-pain if you put them off. And seriously consider hiring the work done if you really don’t have time. A chore that could take you a whole day might take a landscaper just a few hours with the right tools. There are even companies who do seasonal poo pick up. Yeah, that’s a thing!
- Don’t forget to celebrate. When you finished a green-up chore, grab a mug of something warm (if it’s still chilly outside) or cold (if you’re sweating) and go for a walk with your dog to enjoy what you’ve accomplished that day. Even quarter-done projects are well on their way to completion and deserve a moment of pride and reflection.
Greening up the neighborhood
When you’re out on your daily walk with your pooch, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter wind-blown trash stuck in the spring mud or under bushes. It’s everywhere.
Cold hands compelled some pet parents to put their full poop bag down while out walking with their dog this winter. They intended to pick it up on the way back home but, well, they forgot.
If you’ve got a dooloop, you can sling those left-behind bags into it along with your dog’s own bag. A dooloop will hold a lot more than one! Even though community poop pick-up isn't your job, you’ll have made it nicer for everyone coming after you, and will get the internal glow of having done a good deed.
If you happen to be bendable enough to rummage under bushes, bring a small trash bag along with you once a month and pick up any trash you encounter on your dog-walk. If there is an area that is just gross with litter, make a clean-up date with other like-minded friends. They say misery loves company, but I find that with company, both misery and rubbish get disposed of quickly.
Take full credit for being a good “doobie” when you pick up your own pup’s waste. The more we learn, the more we know how taking care of “business” really does make a big positive difference to the planet, water, wildlife and even what grows…You might feel like you are just doing what you must, but we know, a lot of people still don’t, and the cumulative effect is significant. Your dooloop poop-bag holder may make carrying poop an easy task, but you’ve still made the choice to be responsible.
By the way, you do have a dooloop, right? If not, you can get yours here, or look at the list of stores in your area that carry them.
Fun fact! David Sedaris is a gatherer or trash in his neighborhood! Apparently, he just finds it relaxing. If more of us had this hobby, there would be a lot less litter in the community. “Trash management,” like being ‘the dog poop lady,’ is a great conversation starter. Everyone has a story about either poop or trash they can bond over.
Green up your pup’s life, too
When snow or mud turns to fresh green grass, it’s absolutely time for a change of schedule. If the happy dogs here in Fort Williams, ME are any indication, our canine companions definitely have a dose of spring fever. All the doggos got an early dinner when we sprang forward at the end of March, too, so there’s a lot for them to be excited about.
Our pups need some special spring attention and fun summer planning, too. Here are three quick tips!
- Protect your pup (and you) from warm-weather creepy crawlies. While I don’t like saying I loathe any living thing, I do have to admit I’m not a fan of most bugs, especially fleas and ticks. Between Lyme Disease, Powassan Virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other diseases that ticks carry in different parts of the country, I get Bella on board with flea and tick control in the very early spring through the careful advice of my veterinarian – hopefully before I discover ticks on Bella or even on me. Remember to do those regular tick checks!
- Explore a new pup-friendly summer activity together. Is there something you’ve always wanted do with your very best furry friend, like agility, flirt-pole, or flyball, or a dog manners course that you haven’t yet had a chance to take together? How about visiting the beach! Bella just loves to explore the shore. Add serendipity to your lives with something that’s green and new for both of you. I heard recently about a basset doing agility contests. He wasn’t the fastest but he a lot of applause, that’s a win!
- Will this season bring your pup to a new life stage? If you’ve just brought a puppy into your life, socialization, puppy kindergarten and a puppy manners course will be fun additions to your warm weather schedule, so check out those opportunities now. Do you have an energetic young adult? You’ll need to add more action and mileage to your spring and summer plans. My sweet Bella is a senior girl, but she is now known in our neighborhood as a very fast Basset. She led the neighbors and the mailman on a merry chase when she was being babysat one afternoon. We will enjoy getting her out more and running off all that Basset energy!
Greening up your soul
I know I’ve already mentioned adding fun times to your to-do list, but I really, really want to drive this point home. The warm weather adventures you schedule for yourself, your dog, and your friends and family, are a soul-saving shot of optimism. Between winter dark, the ongoing pandemic and world affairs, it’s necessary to take time to recharge, so that you can be the best version of yourself for yourself, and others. It's easy to say and harder to do, but let’s try, together.
Don’t put off planning just because you feel like you have a whole long summer ahead of you. I’d really like you to open your calendar right now to schedule some quests you know would help invigorate you both physically and emotionally. Better yet, if you share your ideas on IG @dooloopdogs, you'll inspire me and others.
- Where do you want to go?
- Who do you want to visit?
- Is there a scary-cool adventure you’ve always wanted to try?
- Is there a hobby or skill you've been wanting to learn?
Like the yard and neighborhood greening above, it’s all about enjoying the journey. I’ve often said that I can have a grand time going grocery shopping (or anything), with someone who wants to have fun, or have a terrible time at a “gala” if the vibe is wrong.
Pamper yourself with good company and keep a running list of ideas, it’s nice to have dreams to plan for, and they will help breathe spring into the way you approach this season and the following seasons.