Yesterday, my labrador retriever turned 13 years old. She’s lumpy and bumpy, the ACL she had repaired years ago is clearly aching with arthritis, and she’s deaf and even a little smelling-impaired, but she still wags her tail when she sees her leash, insists on car rides to the woods, and pulls me like a dogsled when she sees a body of water. She and my other dog, a nervous 4-year-old rescue of unknown lineage, accompany me on most of my walks along the Monocacy. I take bags specifically for their messes, which I pick up and, despite the smell, carry with me for miles until I reach my trash can at home. It can get a little disgusting some days, but it’s worth it not to leave their piles to filthy the river or someone’s shoes, or even just mar the view. Besides, I’ve decided that if anyone is idiotic enough to attack me, I could swing the bags in their face and they’d likely decide I wasn’t worth their trouble.
While I am happy to pick up my own dogs’ messes, I’ve decided that I absolutely will not pick up the messes of anyone else’s. I know that I should, and feel guilty when I pass by the melting piles of it, but I just won’t. So, you won’t hear about this particular kind of waste, or see a picture of it, in or out of a bag, in this blog. It exists, of course; I’m just pretending it doesn’t so that I don’t activate my gag reflex on a daily basis.
There are those who will argue that there shouldn’t be any dogs on nature trails. The untended messes are part of these protesters’ arguments, but they also object to the dogs’ invisible marking, which scares off other wildlife. Dog-lovers, on the other hand, argue that their companions compel people who might otherwise just sit on their couch binge-watching TV shows to go out into nature and, as they learn to appreciate it, decide to take action to protect it. As a traditional peacekeeping middle child, I say let’s have it both ways, maintaining natural areas where dogs are not allowed and other areas where they are encouraged by making available waste bags and plenty of trash cans to their responsible owners.
Anyway, I hate preaching. And I hate picking up poop. And I’m not talking about any of this ever again.