Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Of Dogs and Poop – A Necessary Conversation

There is no better way to start the day than by stepping outside for a brisk walk. In my case, that involves the dog too. Our destination on most mornings is Peterson Creek. For weeks now the park has been a winter wonderland, sheltered under beautiful patches of blue or, at times, ominous-looking grey clouds that brought more snow. To have it so close is something I am grateful for.

Snow does a few things to a dog: it provides an endless amount of magical material for playing, somersaulting, and digging, which is good, but it also covers all the available sticks, which is not ideal. As the temperature rises and snow starts melting, the reverse applies. Sticks appear and patches of mushy muck replace the white layer. The dog welcomes both.

A seemingly handy thing that snow does for the dog owners on the other hand, is that it hides the daily stinky piles that the well-functioning digestive system of their beloved canine produces. That works until the meltdown begins, at which point the piles surface and the beautiful winter wonderland becomes a rather dreaded territory dotted with old and new poop, and lots of it. It is as ugly as it sounds.

The number of piles of dog poop left in Peterson Creek is staggering. Every day more snow disappears and more piles appear. Some already bagged up, which makes no sense at all; some surface on the side of many a city street near the park. There is the occasional ugly wide smear over the sidewalk which is hard to avoid stepping in as it stretches way beyond the initial patch and somehow it manages to stick to your shoes eventually. Risky stuff.

As much as I do not enjoy taking my mittens off in the freezing cold to collect my pup’s piles, and as much as I do not enjoy carrying the bag to a distant enough garbage bin, I do both anyway. It’s part of the unwritten code of being considerate towards fellow humans. Dog ownership obliges.

Also, if you have a dog that has, at least once, indulged in rolling in a pile of poop or another repugnantly-smelling organic matter, you would understand the added stress and disgust that uncollected old poop brings about. Yes, ours is a roller.

Over the years and prior to owning a dog, I had the unpleasant experience of stepping in dog poop left by the side of the street or on some trail. I had my kids climb into the car without realizing they carried dog fecal matter on their shoes. The smell often lingered after the car was cleaned and disinfected.

Psychologists might possibly lean towards saying that one is less disgusted by one’s own dog poop, should they happen to spread it inside the car or on the entrance carpet. Either way, one way of not conducting an experiment of that sort is by simply picking up after your dog.

Should the dog poop disappear due to sudden increased levels of consideration for the fellow humans, one could argue, there is also the threat of other species leaving theirs behind with no chance of having anyone picking it up. Fair enough.

Bears, coyotes, deer, geese, you name it. They are part of our immediate world here in Kamloops and beyond, and I hold no grudges towards any of them, though the dog occasionally plunges neck first into their poop. I accept that as part of a shared territory.

As for the dog poo piles, they can and should be picked up without any other incentive needed. Public spaces cannot be made into a dog’s toilet, no matter how unpleasant the task of picking it up. Snow in this case is a fake friend. Out of sight in winter means into view when snow melts. That is both inconsiderate towards people and disrespectful towards nature, which we do not have the right to destroy in any way. We have the privilege to enjoy and the obligation to preserve.


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  1. Gabriella

    Last year I noticed a weird fact: come winter, dog poop bags at Costco disappear assuming that in winter one doesn’t need them as the snow covers the “deed”. A couple of days ago, I noticed a car with information on it, saying that it provided services, such as “spring dog poop removal”. Mystery solved as for what happens with the tons of dog sh… accumulated in the winter on the streets and parks. But it’s all so sad that there are owners willing to go this way instead of just picking the poop up.

  2. Carely

    Hi I just read “about me” I too have enjoyed reading your columns since the I found them in the Saturday part of the Kamloops Daily news I pass them to my sisters and they enjoy them too. Hope to come across you on one of your hikes some day

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