My husband and I have developed a bit of an obsession. I’ve heard that it’s similar with parents of newborns. It’s a bit embarrassing to say, but… it’s an obession with poo *look away now if you’re squeamish, also a mild language warning ahead*
Dog poo to be exact. And our own dogs’, preferably. Just like going to a public toilet, there’s nothing worse than being forced to see someone else’s doings left lying around.
I can deal with my own on a reasonable level, and a loved one’s if I had to, but seeing someone else’s (especially the surprise ones where they shut the lid on it, leaving you to find their… gift) is hard to take.
Oddly, it’s the same with our dogs. I can cope with picking up after ours (either the daily backyard cleanup with a shovel, or using the doggie-bag while out walking), but when it comes to that of other people’s dogs, I’m revolted. I have done it occasionally, when it lies right next to our dogs’ doings. Especially if something is left on the local sportsground. Those poor players!
Another oddity – it’s easier to pick up a warm dropping than a cold one. Why is that? Perhaps something of body temperature is more comfortable to work with…
We buy huge rolls of degradable doggie bags, to try to lessen the horror of millions of plastic bags of dog excrement rotting infinitely slowly at the local rubbish tip. My husband, who has heroically overcome his slight germ obsession to pick up dog crap (he only started a few years ago when we got our first dog together), is quite analytical about it. We have big discussions over the best type of bag – they must be a reasonable strength while still being degradable; large enough (we have a very big dog) with a wide mouth; and strong handles that are long enough to tie safely while staying well out of the way of the contents.
Technique is also important. Hubby needs to use two bags at a time, one inside the other for extra strength. He calls it ‘gloving up’; I think it’s sort of negating the environmental goodness of the thinner, degradable plastic.
But at least he does it – both for our dogs and the health of our surroundings and community. He’s a gardener, and often has to wade his way through the backyards of dog-owners who are happy to leave their dog’s faeces in the garden for all time. That’s one of the reasons he wears boots, long pants and gloves even in the hottest weather. As for accidentally mowing or brush-cutting through a pile of dog crap… well, I’m sure you’ve got enough imagination to understand the trauma!
I like to challenge myself – with two dogs we often have two lots to pick up on any morning walk. Usually they’ve both gone out in our backyard early on, but it seems the walk is beneficial to getting things moving. Elvis has the ability to defecate three times within a few hours, usually twice in one walk. He quite often likes to find a tall clump of grass to do his in, which requires a certain delicacy to extricate from. He’s only around 16kg but I’m sure he does the job of a dog twice his size.
Tillie being a big girl does produce quite a lot. But she’s also none too steady on her feet, due to her arthritic back and legs, and therefore needs to move along to keep her balance. So we need to watch where she starts… then follow the trail. She can manage quite a few ‘drops’ – up to ten in a row is her record. It takes some effort to get all of these, so one of us does the dirty work, while the other plays ‘spotter’ while keeping the dogs under control.
Anyway, my personal challenge is to save bags like an old Scrooge, and attempt to pick up more than one pile in the one bag… Three in one bag is my record. My husband is horrified at the very thought.
And don’t get me started on the consistency. The firmness and, well, not firmness of the day’s doings is important when you’re having to pick up with a bag. If it’s in sand or soft dirt, not an issue. But picking up from a hard surface without leaving a trace – that’s when you want something of substance that holds its shape long enough to remove.
Like parents of new-borns, there’s also some checking for health reasons – preferably you want something that’s firm, a reasonable colour, and of a pungency that doesn’t knock you sideways. That means all is well. It of course depends on what you feed your dogs (or conversely, what they’ve found to eat). With our senior dogs, when we feed raw bones once a week, there’s a resulting hard powderiness that means everything crumbles into pieces upon pick-up. Very strange. And you hope you don’t get the opposite, when things turn liquid. That’s when you need a hose to wash away the sins. And a visit to the vet if things don’t slow down soon!
*Sigh* Well, it’s all part of dog ownership and responsibility to the unsuspecting general public. So apologies for crapping on about dog poo, but as any animal person understands, shit happens on a daily basis 😉