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12/24/98 The Parking Lot
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09/17/98 Dollars and Sense

Eliminating Elimination

Is there any worse feeling than stepping in dog turd? Throughout the years, I have known not one. There are only degrees of foulness within the stepping-in-dog-turd spectrum. And it's a wholly preventable tragedy. Dog turd does not rain from the sky on bad days in May; it comes from a lack of supervision.

Unlike the American citizen, dogs do not roam free in this country. They do not have the right to assemble, and they do not have the right to bear arms (which is a good thing because the dog next door would have already gunned me down). They certainly do not have the right to use our lawn as a toilet. The only time we should see a dog in public is when it is being walked. By a human. If a dog approaches you on the street for any reason whatsoever, remember that you are dealing with a fugitive who is probably up to no good.

During a walk, the pet is a mobile responsibility of its owner. Actually, the pet is always a responsibility of its owner, particularly at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning when some of us are trying to sleep. One responsibility of the dog owner is to restrain the pet with a leash. Otherwise, the dog is inclined to play in traffic, chase after other dogs, or browse the neighbors' garbage. But the most critical job of the dog owner is to wield a pooper scooper.

A pooper scooper is not an option; it's an obligation to society. A duty, if you will. Just as we don't allow our babies to excrete at will and leave it behind, so it goes with dogs. Dogs are just like babies, actually: They can't speak, they keep us up all night, and they drool on themselves. The pooper scooper, then, is a canine version of Pampers. When our dog takes a dump, out come the Pampers. Simple as that. Otherwise, we live in a community where dog turds lurk behind every bush like Vietnamese land mines, a place where we have to make reconnaissance trips before we let our kids out to play.

Somebody said, "Don't s*!# where you live." I would like to add to this adage, "Don't let your dogs do it either."

Now, before you dog owners form the Coalition for Raising Autonomous Pets ("CRAP"), I hear you and I feel your pain. It is a never-ending chore to walk the dog. I wish they never had to go at all. You'd think that it would be enough to feed them every day, but then we're expected to supervise the other end of the process. What's more, dogs don't just go outside to relieve themselves. For them, it's an adventure. They've been held hostage all day and the last thing they want is to cut their time short with premature excretion. They've got trees to mark, gutters to explore, dead mice to revisit. This is their walk, the very pinnacle of their day.

And the poor dog owner must stand there while their pet goes through a series of delay tactics, sniffing neurotically for the consummate peeing ground. No, can't go there, too much dew... maybe a little on this fence to rile the neighbors...Nope, hydrants are passé... To pee or not to pee, that is the question.

This is the kind of thing a dog owner must endure, all because the dog can't use a commode. Perhaps we could invent an Andy Gump for dogs and place it in the backyard. It could look like a tree and come with removable trays and-Nah, the dogs wouldn't go for it. It would kill the whole "walking" scam.

Troublesome as it is, there is no excuse for leaving a trail of excrement in one's wake. Some things in life are rude. That is one of them.

My childhood friends referred to dog turds as "dukers." I'm not sure why. But we must consider the duker our enemy. A duker represents the most avoidable kind of pollution and an affront to civilization. It is a fetid landmine that puts us at risk every time we step outside our homes. Dukers litter our trails, our sidewalks, our lawns, and a whole host of places where dukers ought not be. The time has come for us to eliminate this elimination once and for all. And here's my plan...

We publicly name the dukers after the owners of the dogs who laid them. If Carol's golden retriever drops a duker on the playground, we can say to our children, "Watch out, honey, don't step on that Carol by the swingset." If Dan's German shepherd has an accident on the jogging track, we say, "Oops, look out for Dan. You don't want to track Dan in the house..."

This way we can assign responsibility and call a turd by its rightful name.

Perhaps dog owners will learn that owning a dog means owning the stuff that comes out of a dog. Or they can just go on being s$%ts their whole life.

 



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