Scooping The Poop


Poo: the great leveller.

It does not matter what kind of doggie food you buy: the outrageously expensive bags of vet chow, or the bargain basement kibble at Aldi: it all ends up the same.

The craven hunched form of a little terrier ejecting ballast is a familiar one. So much so that Cornwall’s doggie poop scoop signs used to make us laugh out loud once upon a time, when we lived there. No images exist of it online, but the little dog in the logo looked up in chagrin as he was pooping behind the big red barred circle.

These days, the poop scoop logo chooses a bigger dog, out and proud:

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So Macaulay the family dog was on his best behaviour on our visit to a thing they call here a Country Park: a nice lake, adventure playground, metalled path surrounding it perfect for pushchairs. Tame and accessible, this country park has a whole different code to the forest, where the rangers insist you don’t bag poop but leave it to decompose naturally. Here at the country park, I implored Mac to keep his ballast on board for a bit longer.

But just in case, I took along some of those telltale little black bags.

Shudder. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a 21st century family in charge of a dog must manage its toilet arrangements, and that means tidying up.

But that can be a complicated business if you own a terrier.

Because terriers have their own waste disposal routines. They know what they’re doing, thank you. Macaulay’s routine runs thus: identify spot for offloading. Walk up and down, treading down imaginary reeds trapped in doggie social memory which is millennia old. Each time you walk across area, imperceptibly decrease the length of the stride until you become an oscillating blur in the middle of the spot.

Stand still. Adopt hunched position; check no-one, including owner, is watching; eject ballast.

Post-poo behaviour is just as serious a business. Macaulay stands next to the site and sweeps half the forest over the offending article. He is energetic, strenuous, even. And eventually nothing can be seen, though we all know forest animals can still read it.

Nowhere in this routine is there a space for socially conscious, considerate owner to nip in and retrieve the deposit. because as far as he is concerned, that poo is a message. This area, it trumpets, belongs to Macaulay Shrewsday. To pick up the message is to remove a large and very official canine signpost.

But needs must. Half way round the little kiddie lake the dog began the pacing routine and before long there was a small oscillating blur at a discreet distance to the footpath, in a patch of scrub.

Wearily, I pulled out a Little Black Bag.

We all employed silence and averted eyes. I cannot tell you what Macaulay was doing because if you stare, he gets up and walks away.

And then we went to the place where X did not mark the spot. Just in time for Macaulay to shower me, the bag and his creation with an avalanche of forest mulch.

Now, there was no trace of his poo. And there stood I, with a black bag, perplexed beyond words, staring at a woodheap created by my dog.

I will not go into detail about the subsequent investigations, search and final apprehension of Macaulay’s poo. Or his ability to propel it along with the accompanying brush.

No: we will draw a discrete poop scooper over the whole affair and go home for a glass of something fortifying.


49 thoughts on “Scooping The Poop

  1. In every coat, jacket and cardigan I own, I have a lip salve in one pocket and masses of poo bags in another.

    Toby has the same behaviour as Mac, but not Molly, who disdains to notice that such a thing has been expelled from her bottom.

    I was interested to hear that about leaving it to lie in the forest. I thought dog poo had no redeeming qualities and causes blindness if you get too close.

    Your lost poo made me laugh. It has happened to me more than once. I am so conscious of my duty to be a good citizen, I will pick up another dog’s poo if I can’t find my own. I feel it cancels out my sin.

    1. I’m sure it does, Tilly. St Frances will be waiting for you at the pearly gates to make sure you get a VIP club class pass into Heaven. I scoop my neighbour’s dog’s poo from the verge outside my house but I shall be going to The Other Place because of what I say whilst I am doing it.

      The forest poo: rangers became incredibly exasperated with foolish Hooray Henrys bagging poo in unsightly bags and then leaving it hung on trees like Christmas baubles for the rangers or someone who is yet to be assigned to collect. Better, they said, to leave it: the concentration of dogs is not great in that enormous forest.

  2. We don’t have a friendly forest on our door step- just lots of streets with equivalent signs. Jake cares not a jot for an audience. In fact, sometimes I think he likes to save it all up and make a HUGE deposit outside the theatre at going in time. Surrounded by well dressed folk on a night out, you’ll find me by the enormous wax coat and the red face.

    1. Ha! The very thought of you at Theatre Hour with a little squatting dog makes me laugh out loud, Fiona. Good old Jake. Someone needs to keep all those theatre types in order.

  3. I can understand having to scoop poop on public footpaths and in manicured parks, but in a forest. It’s a natural part of the mulch system, surely?! All the frenetic law-abiding poop-scooping is probably breeding a whole generation of self-conscious, neurotic (and constipated) dogs.Those signs are hilarious – from one extreme, where the poop is drawn in all it glory (?), to another, where it’s left entirely to the imagination.

    1. I concur with BB . . . if you can’t find it because it’s safely buried . . . then surely no one will stumble or step upon it.

      Ashes to ashes
      Dust to dust
      Poop to poop

      Also laughed at the slide show. What a collection of signs.

      1. I was just a bit on edge because of all the middle class British mothers and their middle class British children, BB and Nancy….when that lot get together you do not want to mess with them. And if that means a little poop-scoop theatre,laying my good citizenship on with a trowel to oil the wheels of comradeliness, well, that is what I must do. Can’t have some stockbroker mum laying a poo order on my dog, can we?

  4. I always feel a bit bad when a dog doing its business gets caught in my line of vision. The way the dog is all scrunched over gives it a very “Oh, this is really humiliating” vibe. So I try to be respectful and look away. πŸ˜‰

    Loved the images of the various signs. Some leave nothing to the imagination…

      1. I have no doubt you would find takers. The same ones who clothe their pooches, feed them gourmet meals, and carry them around in their purses. And if you do any of those things, then I mean this comment in the nicest of ways… πŸ˜‰

  5. Gwynn prefers to make a mad dash as far from his deposit as he can. Not far, if he’s on-leash and I’m scrambling to sort out my bag and pick up the business. I find poop bags in every item of clothing I own that has pockets in it, at one point or another.

    1. I love the thought of Gwyn making space between himself and his poop whilst you scramble with the bags, Lexy πŸ˜€ I, too, have every available pocket full of little black bags…

  6. New York City dogs have poo-pride. After they squat, they give their owners a stern look that screams, “Bag it now, damn it! And reward me with a treat!” Mac is much more controlling about his ejected ballast (I’m with PiedType about that excellent Shewsdayian euphenism). In fact, I think this post should be Freshly Poo-ed, I mean Freshly Pressed.

    1. One of my enduring memories of New York is walking past Central Park and a doggie toilet. I am fascinated with the idea that a dog can just be led to a patch and told to offload. The place had the air of one of the old Roman toilets: a communal poo-in where you also chat with your mates. Talk about networking.

  7. Fortification is warranted. I may need to employ a super-dooper-pooper-scooper (particularly when we had wolfhounds) but I have never needed to seek out the deposits. Insult to injury, that would be.

  8. what a fun post! I also love your description β€œEjecting ballast.” heh heh
    Our MontyCarlo is a Manchester terrier who usually poops FIVE times on each walk. Its unbelievable that such a small dog can produce so much sh–.

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