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walking dog

White great pyrenese dog walking along path

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

I want to talk about dog poop.

I don’t intend to describe it, compare notes, or ponder the meaning of bending over after our dogs relieve themselves to take their excrement and dump it in our garbage cans or, perhaps, to ship it to Mars so Matt Damon will have fertilizer for a crop of potatoes.

It’s the whole picking up of the steaming logs that I’d like to address.

You see, the other day, my son and I took our 95-pound dog for a walk. Yes, bigger dogs make larger and, often, smellier poops. I know because I’ve walked smaller dogs recently and am amazed at the delicate little pebbles they gingerly push out of their smaller digestive systems.

So, there we were, the three of us, on our happy stroll, with my dog smelling everything and nothing and my son and I talking about, shocker, sports!

My dog did his thing. At that point, I reflexively leaped into action, opening a small plastic bag that I turned inside out so I didn’t have to come into contact with, you know, it.

I bagged it up, the way I always do, tied the bag twice, as is also a part of the routine, and gently lay the bag near a tree, preparing, as I have for the last five years, to retrieve the bag on my return trip.

That’s when a bald, angry, younger man honked at me from his car and threw out his hands in a frustrated “are-you-kidding-me-right-now” pose.

I shrugged and kept walking because other people’s anger, particularly when I don’t feel responsible for it, isn’t about me.

But the gentleman didn’t leave well enough alone. He circled around and found my son, my dog and me, rolled down his angry window and demanded to know if I was planning to pick up the poop.

“Yes, of course,” I said. “I’ve been walking him for five years, and I pick it up every time.”

My son seemed more than a bit amused.

“Are you the dog poop police?” he asked.

“Yes,” the man in the pickup truck replied without a touch of irony.

“Can I see your badge?” my son asked.

This was heading in the wrong direction.

“I hate it when people leave their dog’s poop all over the neighborhood,” the gentleman, who was coming across as anything but gentle, said. “Are you sure you’re going to pick it up?”

“Yes,” I said. “I always do.”

“Do people leave poop everywhere?” my son asked.

“Yes, they do,” the man said.

The stare down lasted another few minutes. Why, I thought later, would I bother to bag up his poop as if it were a holiday present if I intended to leave it? Wouldn’t I continue walking, ignoring the doggy remains of his dinner?

The man drove off. No, he didn’t spin his tires. When I picked up the bag, I looked around to see if he was hiding, waiting to catch me in a dog-faced lie.

Alas, despite the numerous pickup trucks that sped by, none looked like his truck or had his scowl leaning out of the window.

We sure are an angry and confrontational society these days, aren’t we? This man took time out of his day to confront me about a bag of poop.

I guess the good news is that he’s protecting us from dog poop scofflaws. The sad part, however, is that he figured I was prepared to bag it up and leave it behind. He didn’t know me and quickly assumed the worst.

I wonder if he feels the same level of concern for, say, the wrappers people toss out of their car windows. Does he knock on car doors to ask people sitting with their engines on to turn them off so they don’t pollute the air?

Now, that’s an idea that makes sense to me. Then again, the dog poop patrol probably made sense to him. If my dog had any idea what was happening, he’d have quite a tale to share with his canine companions.

Pixabay photo

The warm weather is here, which means more people will be out walking, many with their furry best friends.

It’s important to remember to keep your dog on a leash, whether when walking down the street, in a park or along the beach. Some may think that their dog is friendly and wouldn’t hurt a fly — and they may be right — but that doesn’t mean that other dogs share the same demeanor.

It’s important to note that dogs are territorial. In the April 28 Ask the Vet column by Dr. Matthew Kearns, the veterinarian explained that the animals are hardwired to protect their territory. If they feel threatened, they will feel the need to defend themselves. Certain movements may also trigger them.

Dogs can hurt other animals and humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 4.5 million dog bites to people every year in the U.S. Dog bites can lead to a need for medical care and even fatalities.

It’s also possible for a dog off-leash to chase after smaller critters. The chase could lead to danger to wildlife and animals running out into busy streets. It’s also healthier for dogs to be walked with a leash as it lessens the chances of them engaging with other dogs, which can increase the spread of diseases such as distemper, and they are less likely to sniff droppings from other animals.

Plus, if your dog does get away from you, the leash signals that it belongs to someone, and the person who finds the pet knows to first look for a collar and ID.

Walking your dog on a leash also shows courtesy to your neighbors as pet owners have more control over where their dog goes when they have a hold on them. The lawn down the road is not your dog’s bathroom.

Speaking of dogs and bathrooms, remember to bring a bag with you while walking your dog to clean up any mess they may make.

With just a little care, dogs, humans and other animals can enjoy the great outdoors together and lessen the dangers that can occur.

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

This time of year, my dog walks with relief and trepidation.

The relief comes from temperatures that have cooled off enough that his heavy fur doesn’t exacerbate the humidity and discomfort from stifling heat.

The trepidation arises out of the emergence of ominous additions to the neighborhood that change the world he knows.

The spiderwebs along fences and hanging on bushes and trees don’t bother him, but the ghosts planted in the ground, the green glow-in-the-dark skeletons and the hanging vampires terrify him, as he prefers to scamper toward the street and passing cars rather than walk near an inexplicable figure swaying in the wind, hovering over him like some supernatural predator.

And so it was, recently, that we took an early October walk through our neighborhood.

While these figures create anxiety for him, I was mulling the numerous global threats to the future for which we Americans and we humans are grappling. Global warming, debt limits, infrastructure bills, gun violence, the pandemic, partisanship, educational deficiencies, a destructive oil spill in California and everything else ricocheted around my head as I thought of the many looming crises.

A sight on the horizon snapped me out of my anxiety labyrinth. There, around the corner, appeared to be roadkill.

In the distance, I couldn’t recognize it, but I was sure that, once we got closer, my dog would pull desperately to inspect the flesh and innards of a former living creature.

Generally, when I try to pull away from decaying matter on the road, my dog seems eager to get as close as he can, like a forensic photographer or a police inspector from Law & Order, trying to figure out who might be at fault for the end of a life, whether the driver tried to maneuver away from the animal based on any skid marks nearby, or, perhaps, whether the animal contributed to its own untimely end.

I try to distract him, whistling, calling his name, tugging ever so slightly on his leash to redirect him away from these sites, hoping to keep far enough away that the flies feasting on rotting animal flesh don’t land on us.

Usually, such maneuvers have the same effect as making suggestions to my kids about what to do, like studying the bassoon because every band needs a bassoon player and many schools are lucky to have one or two such double-reeded wonders: they cause an equal and opposite reaction.

I’m sure Newton’s third law wasn’t referring to parenting, but it seems that when we say “here” they want to go “there,” and when we say “there,” they want to go “here.” My dog seems to have studied the same playbook in response to any such guidance or direction.

As we walked, I pulled left, trying to figure out what was on the road, which seemed broken into four parts. This could be a particularly unappealing mess, I thought, trying not to make a subconscious suggestion through the leash that he head straight for it.

I held my breath as a slight wind picked up from the other side of the detritus, hoping I wouldn’t smell something awful and that, somehow, neither would my dog.

As we got closer, I used my peripheral vision. That’s when I noticed something unusual. Amid the odd red and brown colors was a mixture of an orange and blue mess. What kind of animal’s innards are orange and blue? Was this a Halloween roadkill? 

I deciphered letters on the ground. That was definitely not blood. It was a Burger King wrapper, with obliterated fries, a flattened Whopper and a crushed cup.

Perhaps too focused on the Halloween decorations, the dog wasn’t at all interested or enticed by the fast food roadkill.