A Call to Arms!

I have a theory, several actually about picking up Dog Poop. The Washington Post” goes into the lengths some communities both public and private will go to combat this menace.

I think this whole good neighbor thing about picking up dog crap is misguided, dangerous, and an obvious Soviet era plot to undermine American society.

Picking up dog poop is dangerous.  Everybody who has had a dog has gone through the routine of “walking” the dog.  It doesn’t matter whether the dog has been inside six minutes of six hours. Once outside, everything slows down and becomes deliberate. The are certain bushes, fence posts and walls that must be thoroughly sniffed.  This is a dog checking their P-mail. Scent makes the world go round, for a dog. Their noses are so sensitive and their mind so in tune with odors that they can break an odor down to its many component parts.  So while we are waiting for them to do their “business” they are actually catching up on the neighborhood news. “Fifi is in heat. Jock went to the vet and had his nuts cut. Spot has worms.  Princess got a great big steak bone!” This stuff is important, if you are a dog.  A message received requires a message in return. An individual reply is preferable to one of those mass mail out type replies.

Dropping a turd entails a different different set of priorities.  First there is the selection process, gone are the old familiar places.  The search leads away from posts, bushes and spots perfectly acceptable for pissing on.  Left to his own devices the dog may consider multiple places, narrow it down to two or three, compare and contrast those places on the short list, only to reject them all. The process begins again and finally, the spot is identified.  Oftentimes dogs will circle the spot an an effort to achieve perfect north south alignment. Some dogs squat rock steady, dropping their turds in a symmetrical pile.  Others walk dropping a trail of turds.  When done some dogs scratch the ground. Others bound about, as if a great weight has been lifted.

Then in a flash the dog’s human steps in with a plastic bag covered hand and scoops up the turd, reverses the bag, gives it a spin and ties it off.  This accomplishes three things.

It lessens the sense of accomplishment, builds frustration, and deprives the dog of a voice, in his community. Since leaving a scent is a form of communication, it deprives the dog of an outlet for the free association of thoughts and ideas. It is akin to looking over the shoulder of Hemingway or e.e.Cummings and taking their latest work page by page as it comes out of the typewriter and immediately feeding it though the shredder, unread. Imagine the level of brooding frustration as this behavior is repeated daily, mindless censorship imposed without understanding and no possibility of appeal.  Are you guilty of such behavior?  Is it any surprise when the family pet makes a stand? Maybe those unprovoked attacks aren’t so unprovoked but a frustrated response to a legitimate grievance. Where did this whole concept of turd snatching come from?

dog attack

I suspect that it started as a Soviet disinformation plot formulated in the late sixties early seventies. I imagine it started as a wager between two old cold warriors and grew. Somewhere in the bowels of the KGB headquarters two KGB spymasters meet, possibly in the banya (Russian sauna).

“Dmitri, I have not seen you in months, how have you been?”

“Ah Yuri, I am well, and the reason you haven’t seen me is that I have been in America, assigned to the United Nations mission. I am back for consultations.”

“What of the Americans now that you have been living among them?”

“Yuri, they don’t play chess, there are not a lot of deep thinkers there. I believe that there is a better way to influence them.  The Russian is content to read Marx, The Brothers Karamazov, or War and Peace.  It doesn’t matter that hundreds of pages pass before anything happens, the Russian just muddles on. The American is too impatient to read such tomes.  It isn’t that the message is lost, it is never delivered,” said Dmitri.

What do you propose instead? asked Yuri.

“I was having lunch with a great American philosopher and political activist, Abbie Hoffman. He advised the way to make a point was to use the lessons learned in American advertising.  Reduce things down to a slogan and they will come.  He cited one of his, “Hey, Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”

“I pointed out that the slogan was nonsensical and therefore meaningless. He agreed with me.  He pointed out since it was meaningless it could mean anything.  What was important was to get enough people chanting it that it became a suitable backdrop.  Then the informed commentator could put any spin on it that seemed appropriate, at the time.”

Yuri said, “Can you give me an example?”

“Several,” said Dmitri. “Catch Our Smile” “My Wife I think I’ll keep her”, “A silly millimeter longer”,”It’s the real thing.” From these you are supposed to associate an airline, a home remedy, a cigarette brand, and a soft drink.  The one that intrigued me most was a sign that was posted all around New York City.  It said Curb Your Dog. There dogs all over the place on sidewalks, in parks, vacant lots, but I never saw any in the street or standing at the curb.”

“What does this Curb your Dog mean?” asked Yuri.

“Nobody at the mission could tell me.  I checked with our allies, they had no idea.  I checked with language experts in Moscow, negative.  I began to suspect it was a code. Then one day all was made clear.  A man walking his dog, allowed it to defecate on the sidewalk.  This caused an immediate outcry by people nearby. The sign was an instruction to dog walkers that their animals were to defecate in the street. This was a Eureka moment for me!”

“I don’t understand,” said Yuri.

“Don’t you see? American beef, pork, poultry dominates the world market. If we could manipulate the price by introducing added costs we could break that stranglehold. Secondly, if we could convince Americans to indulge themselves in a ridiculous campaign about where their dog shits, then we can get them to do anything!”

“An interesting concept, I bet you 500 rubles it won’t work,” said Yuri.

“I’ll take your bet, but you have to give me five years,” said Dmitri.

“Done! We’ll meet back here in five years,” said Yuri.

Five years later, same banya, Dmitri and Yuri meet up once again.

“It has been five years Dmitri, what have you to report?”

“I have mixed results Yuri, but you shall decide the success or failure.  I returned to New York and we started a campaign to clean up New York centered around the dog waste. As it evolved we introduced the concept that “curbing your dog” was not enough.  The waste instead should be disposed of at the point of origin.  The academic community was very helpful in providing meaningless projections and potential harmful effects if this wasn’t done. This led to a city ordinance requiring that dog waste be picked up and disposed of in the trash.  Nobody ever once questioned the efficacy of picking up dog waste that would normally dissolve in a week and encasing it in a plastic bag so that it could languish for months.”

“Brilliant,” said Yuri.

“We had less success on the commercial side. Nobody seemed to care about cattle waste. However, there is a subset of people that we gained as allies who are concerned with cattle flatulence.”

“Are cattle flatulent?”

“Abundantly so, but their manure is useful as fertilizer, so the whole recycling thing got us there. We had better luck with pig shit.  Apparently pig manure is gathered into holding ponds and they are rather odoriferous. So we have supporters against the hog industry. We also made inroads in the poultry industry, but not entirely because of the waste.”

“Poultry farms concentrate a large quantity of birds in one location to facilitate feeding and gathering of eggs. This leads to a large concentration of waste.  The protest movement is geared towards letting the chickens roam free. This would disperse the waste and also the eggs.

“As for the dogs many communities, parks, public venues now require that pet owners gather up the waste for proper disposal,” said Dmitri.

“So, like you said Dmitri, a mixed bag and now it is time for me to decide,”said Yuri.

“Indulge me for a moment Yuri. I would like to report one more issue, call it an unintended consequence. I brought this picture to illustrate my point.

“I know this man, it is Vasily, he is on the national weight lifting team,” said Yuri.

russian weight lifter

“You used to know this man. Now it is Ludmila.  She likes long walks on tropical beaches, bubble baths and scented candles.  Turnoffs are macho men and people with closed minds. Vasily/Ludmila is a transsexual and in America he, is a she.

“We didn’t have anything to do with the disinformation campaign but they have done something we couldn’t do at the Olympics, get the judges to disregard genetics and hard science,” said Dmitri. “Now you can change your gender with your wardrobe and accessories.”

“Dmitri, my old friend, will you take a check?”

Most people would not be able to make the connection between poop snatching and the whole “trans” movement, but to me it’s clear.  One minute you are picking up dog shit and the next minute you and the ole gal at the next urinal are discussing the prospects of the Red Sox this year. Rather than hang around Men’s rooms trying to dissuade the occasional female urinator, I decided to attack the root of the problem in a more target rich environment.

I just moved to a neighborhood where all the houses were built in the mid 70’s. About a third are still occupied by the original owners, about a third are occupied by second owners and the remainder by a mixed bag of owners.  It is a middle class, middle aged type of neighborhood. There is the usual cadre of dog walkers. The dogs, for the most part, reflect their owners, middle aged, and conservative there are no squirrel chasers in this group.  Everybody has the routine down, poop, wait with resigned expression while yet another turd is snatched.

I don’t smoke in the house.  I go out on the front porch and so observe the steady parade of poopers and pooper snatchers. The other day I staged an intervention.

“Hey, leave that alone,” I yelled at a the lady from three doors down. She was slapping on the plastic bag casting covetous glances at the steaming pile just laid down by her dog on my lawn.

“But I was just cleaning up after my dog,” she replied.

“My yard, my turd, your dog gave it to me, you don’t have a vote,” I said. I wanted to take a firm stance to ensure there was no argument.

“I try to be a good neighbor and clean up,”she said.

“I like the turd where it is.  Have you ever stopped to think how much effort your dog took to make sure that that place and no other got a turd. You could be messing with God’s grand design. After all God is nothing more than Dog spelled backwards.”

It was working she was slowly edging away from the turd and towards her house.  I couldn’t tell if the dog appreciated my efforts or not. My first victory. I need a slogan to commemorate the moment, “Dog Turds Matter”, “Freedom of Expression for Fido” or “Set the Inner Dog Free”. I realize that it is a lonely path I tread. My goal is to set man and dog both free to realize each’s fullest potential; one to be able to fully express oneself and the other to free up time otherwise spent schlepping dog shit around in search of a suitable container.