Poop Bags: Rights and Wrongs of Following Your Dog Around with a Bag
Originally Published on Dan's Papers - March 6, 2020
Is it ok not to pick up after our dogs in the deep woods? and other important questions.
When I take my dog out for a walk, I usually take her into town to prance along the sidewalk in front of the shops, wagging her tail and interacting with the parade of people enjoying the day, some of them leading other dogs she can stop and sniff hello to. Of course, she’s on a leash, and before we leave the house I always have a plastic doggie bag attached to the leash so if she does something important I can bend down, scoop it up into the baggie and throw it into one of the trash cans there.
Sometimes, besides town, I take her to the marina across the street from my house, where, in the summertime, fishermen and pleasure boat captains back their yachts and sailboats into the slips. She’s not welcome on the boats, of course, but sometimes a mariner will step off his boat to give her a pat or two.
Then, last week, for the first time, I took her off into the woods up in Northwest. I let her go off-leash here, and very quickly she ran off, leaping over logs, scurrying through bushes and generally having herself a gay old time. I followed along, trying unsuccessfully to keep up, but she knows who’s who and so she’s always galloping off and showing up again to touch base and see what’s what.
It’s nice to see her in nature. There are birds, trees, bees and flowers, and in the mix an occasional badger or weasel. In a clearing at the end of one path, we saw a couple of deer in the distance, grazing in the grass. On another occasion some wild turkeys appeared from behind some foliage, fluffed themselves up excitedly at the sight of my dog and lumbered off heavily into the air to come down and rearrange themselves further away.
It was at that moment that my little dog did something. I had my leash with the doggie bag on it, of course, and, instinctively, I memorized the spot and went for the doggie bag. I’d clean it up.
Or would I? This dog is frolicking around in the wild with the other creatures. They poop. Nobody cares. It’s just what they do. It occurred to me I would be doing my dog a disservice if I didn’t let her join in the mix. We’re with nature here, and nature says it’s fertilizer, no matter which creature it comes from.
But then I looked around. Nobody was around, but if there were, I could get a ticket if I didn’t clean up after my dog. And so I went and did that, going to the spot she’d hovered over, unfurling the little bag, blowing up its insides to separate the plastic, rolling it over my hand inside-out so I’d never have to touch what she did when I rolled it back down the other way over my hand. And I got it.
My dog, of course, never bothered to watch me do this. She was off after a squirrel that was on the side of a tree at that point. And I thought, well, she’s empty, so I don’t have to watch closely, for a while anyway. I also looked again for other people. There still weren’t any, but if there had been, I would have smiled and waved, then held up the pouch with the poop. See? I got it.
Of course there is no trash basket in the woods, and so, as I trotted along behind my dog, trying to keep up, I carefully held the bag away from my body until we could finish the walk and, returning to where I had parked my car, find a municipal trash basket and toss this stuff in.
The real issue here, I think, is what have we come to? If there were creatures from outer space looking at us, they would report to their superiors that on Earth the dogs are the kings. They all had their humans trudging along behind, picking up after them.
By the way, what happens to my full baggie after the highway department takes away the trash basket?
Maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that question.