*If the word shit offends you, you should not read this post
I was out walking my dog yesterday, which is the perfect thing to do when you suspect the whole world might be going to hell. Because dogs are like children in this one, singular way-they don’t care if the world may or may not be circling the drain because they still need to eat, pee and run around in the sunshine for survival. They keep us in the present. For this, I’m grateful for dogs and children.
I’m fortunate to live steps away from a regional trail. It’s miles and miles of groomed trails that run parallel to a large lake. The trail provides hours of entertainment for me and my dog. I have picked out favorite front doors, favorite lake views. Favorite trees. Favorite patches where wildflowers grow. My dog has taken it upon himself to try to sniff every blade of grass, each leaf, leaving no stone unturned so to speak. He has favorite signposts to pee on and even particular areas he prefers to poop, usually downhill, creating some sort of unnecessary hamstring challenge for me while I pick it up.
His job on walks is to exercise and hunt down the most perfect place to poop. My job on walks is to exercise and pick up his poop and bag it since he does not have opposable thumbs. But yesterday I also noticed a large deposit of ‘other’ poop. This fills me with anger. What is wrong with people? Here’s the thing. They got the dog. They chose it. It didn’t happen upon them like a gaggle of geese setting up residence in the backyard pooping this way and that. They purchased something that creates waste, it’s their job to dispose of it, it’s part of the deal.
I have a friend who lives in an apartment building. The building allows dogs but you must submit a DNA sample for your dog in order to live there. It’s so when errant poop is left outside, they send the sample out to the lab to contact trace it back to you. Then you are fined. And that is where we are at as a society. Unless threatened with legal or financial action, we may be too tempted to do the wrong thing.
As I’m staring at the unknown dog poop, my pup looking at me wondering why I am now awkwardly crouching on the incline, I consider the person behind the dog behind the poop. Maybe they weren’t a selfish ass who saw it happen and left it there on a public trail. Maybe the dog was off leash and they didn’t see it happen. Maybe they were on their phone and just got terrible news and had to rush home. Maybe they had already used the only waste bag they had earlier on the trail and their dumb dog decided to go twice. But maybe they are a selfish ass. It’s all possible.
And while I have a staggering puke reflex when it comes to bad smells, I decided I should pick it up. Because while it is indeed dog shit, the entire moment is a metaphor for the ills of society and I love a metaphor more than I hate dog poop. Because everyone has moments where they fall down, fail, don’t do what they are supposed to do and luckily, we often have people swoop in to help us. The time the bill was late but the place showed mercy. The time the teacher let the student go back after they missed a question on the test.The time I forgot someone at practice and another parent picked them up. The time I had no cash and the friend spotted me a $20. The time the neighbor checked to make sure my garage door was closed. The time the person in front of me treated me to a coffee. The time someone sacrificed something for me, a stranger. The time, the time, the time.
Personality responsibility is great but it does not happen by people sitting on their couches shouting personal responsibility at a news anchor with their fists raised. And so, I’m now challenging myself to occasionally pick-up shit belonging to someone else’s dog. Because if I don’t, if I stomp my feet and cross my arms and complain and point fingers about ‘personal responsibility’, we all just live in a giant shithole in the end.
And I’d just like to leave this world just a hair better than I found it and it appears there is still quite a lot of shit out there to be picked up.