I am not a big fan of dog poop. There, I said it.
I’m sure that puts me squarely in the majority, at least I hope so. I hate seeing the leavings of our canine friends all over the sidewalks and playgrounds, even in those cute little blue bags.
Actually, those bags are just the beginning. It was the behavior of a dog owner I recently encountered at a local park that prompted me to write this.
Now, before the animal lovers get all defensive, this post isn’t about hating on dogs (I’ll save that for another time).
This is about trash, parks, kids, and the expectations of people. It all starts with this fact: Kids like colorful things. That means crushed Pepsi cans, tennis balls, chip wrappers, water bottles, and yes, those little bags of e coli.
So at a playground a few days ago, along comes a woman walking her dog. No big deal. He’s leashed, he’s friendly, she’s got the little bags, and all is well.
My kids love dogs, so of course they come running along, holding their hands out, asking his name and all that dog protocol stuff (I originally avoided teaching them this, preferring they stay away from all dogs, period. But that wasn’t realistic, so I had to teach them the drill).
But this dog owner wasn’t only cleaning up after her animal, she was collecting trash. It’s nice to pick up the playground, but she started recruiting my kids, which isn’t exactly hard; It took me forever to get them to leave garbage alone.
What’s that, Tom? You don’t clean up the playground?
No, I don’t. I’m not there to do that. I’m there to run the kids ragged. I don’t want them wandering around picking up all manner of junk. They’re five.
When I asked them to stop picking up trash and go play, the dog owner got a little judgmental about this, but I saw no reason to explain. If I did, it would go something like this:
- First, they have no idea what not to pick up. While a chip bag might be okay, how about broken glass? Sharp aluminum cans? Those little blue bags? I’ve taught them to dump out any bottles. If they must pick these up, I’d rather they not take a swig.
- Second, tuberculosis. I don’t know which of my neighbors don’t believe in vaccines. Let’s not drape their little hands in flotsam dripping with plague.
- Third, how boring should a five-year-old’s life be? Everything I show them is sopped up immediately by their sponge-like little minds. If we start gathering garbage just once, every trip will become a diptheria-dodging session where we haul piles of debris back to a car that frankly needs no more of it.
- Fourth, there’s time. Should we pick up the playground? Absofreakinglutely. They’ll learn that, but it can wait until they’re able to understand the concepts of pollution, cleanliness, disease and neighborhood husbandry. Right now I want them to focus on how the slide works.
For now, my friendly neighborhood dog owner can handle it on her own, starting with packing out the little bags. Considering the number of those I’ve seen left behind, she’d better get cracking.