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Pure Spirit is dedicated to creating understanding between people and animals. Through appreciation of our differences, we can learn to live in harmony with our companion animals and the wild ones who share our planet. Each animal is an individual with their own needs, expectations and personalities. Understanding their individuality and clearly defining our own expectations will help us to bridge the gaps between us and create a relationship that is engaging, supportive, beneficial and fulfilling for both people and animals.

There is no Poop Fairy!

Boy & Girl walking yellow labThat’s right boys & girls, there is no poop fairy!  When your dog poops while you are out on your walk, if you don’t pick it up and haul it to a proper disposal container, it’s left there... for someone to step in, a child to trip and fall onto or someone else’s pet to sniff, or worse, eat. (Yes, some dogs are prone to coprophagia, the eating of feces, which is both disgusting and distressing to their owners).

Did you know it can take up to a year for dog droppings to decompose?  A year!  That’s a crap-load of poo out of just one dog.  So what if everyone left their dog’s poop behind?  Given the number of people that share their lives with dogs (39% of U.S. households account for 78 million owned dogs) and that there are not mounds of poop along the sidewalks and walking paths, I can make these assumptions: either most people are good dog owners and clean up after their dogs, or people don’t walk their dogs.

Still, the people that don’t clean up after their dogs are a particular irritant to me.  Visually, I don’t want to see another dog’s poop while I’m out enjoying a walk with my pup.  Hygienically, I don’t want my dog near another dog’s poop, because if one doesn’t clean up after their dog it’s unknown whether their dog has parasites or another illness that may be a health risk to my aging dogs. Morally, I don’t want to clean up after someone else’s dog.

No poopingI’ve never actually seen someone not pick up their dog’s poop before.  I only get the ‘pleasure’ of knowing they were there by what they’ve left behind. Until this morning.  This morning, at the break of dawn, I saw a guy and his dog walking ahead of me on the path.  The dog disappeared behind a tree for a while then back to happily bounding alongside his owner. When I got to the tree it was apparent the brown mound was fresh by the steam rising into the brisk morning air. “Do you need a bag to pick up your dog’s poop?”  I called to the man. He turned and replied that he was on his way home to get one; he had one, but must’ve lost it. “Not to worry, I’ll lend you one to save you time, I always have extras.  Always seems to be so much poop to clean up.”  I hurried toward him, bag extended.  He took the bag and thanked me.

As I continued on my way (now ahead of him, since he had to stop and scoop his poop) I hoped that he was paying attention as I stopped and picked up three piles of droppings along the way, none of which came out of the dog I was walking.

The gentleman I helped may have indeed lost his bag and I saved him a trip home.  I’ve had that happen, where I’ve either lost my bag, ran out of bags or actually forgot one and had to go back later. I choose to believe this.  I have no reason to think he was lying and why do I care if he was, the outcome would still be the same.Dog with a bone

It’s possible had he not been called out that he would never have picked up his poop.  Many people just don’t think about what happens to the poop after their dog expels it.  They think it just biodegrades, which seems logical, and if they don’t learn otherwise they go through life in ignorant bliss unknowingly irritating self-proclaimed responsible dog owners (like me) who just as ignorantly think people should ‘just know better.’ If this is the case, then perhaps his mind has been opened to the fact that cleaning up after his dog is part of his responsibility.

Perhaps he knew he should clean it up, but didn’t care because someone else will clean up after his dog.  I’ll never know what impact my interaction beyond today’s clean up had on him.  Will he only clean up when called out?  Or will I have planted a seed and as he matures through the years will he become a do-gooder and change his evil ways? After all, I wasn’t always the perfect model citizen you see before you.

walking dogOr, of course, he may never pick up another pile of poop again in his life.  Perhaps today’s exchange has simply taught him to not let anyone see his dog poop--- that there are people out there who will clean up after your dog so you don’t have to do it.  I hope this is not the case, but if it is I must have compassion for such a self-absorbed individual… because there is great sadness in living a life where you don’t consider the feelings of your fellow man/woman.

I feel pretty good about my walk this morning. I put out a little effort and made my little corner of the world a little bit cleaner.  And I came home with a heart filled with compassion for my fellow dog walkers and three bags of poop. Someday maybe there will be a poop fairy. But until then, do the right thing, because only you can scoop the poop!

© 2013 Guided By Nature, Inc.

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