Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Picking Up Dog Poop

Warning: The title of today's post is not a metaphor for anything.  The following post is literally about dog poop.  Almost entirely.  If you're not in to that kind of thing, might I direct you to greener pastures?  Perhaps click on one of my "popular posts" over there on the right.  Although, the one titled "Attn: Soon-to-be Uncles" talks about baby poop.  And the one titled "Penis" actually talks about elephant poop.  So steer clear of those two.  But everything else is poop-free, so you should be safe with those. 
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"Time for a walk?"
It is almost always dark when I take Sadie for a walk.

Working nights, I don't see much daylight.  And as a result, neither does my dog.

So when we go on walks, not only do I need to make sure that I have a bag to pick up her poop, but I also need to have my cell phone for its flashlight app (which is really nothing more than a "turn-on-the-camera-phone's-flash" app). 

It'd be easier if Sadie pooped in just one place.  But she does this thing where the squats, looks up at me (every single time, it's kinda awkward), and then begins her business.  As she's doing it, she moves forward on the grass, using only her front paws.  She just dangles her back paws an inch or two above the grass, I assume because she doesn't want to step in shit.

As she shits and moves across the grass like a mischievous circus dog, she continues to shoot glances at me to see if (or make sure, I'm not sure which) I'm still watching.

And yes, yes I did just describe, in detail, the exact way my dog poops.

You're very welcome.

Needless to say, it is much more difficult to track down all of her little droppings in the dark when they are spread out over a large area, as opposed to normal dogs that poop, you know, in a pile.

During one of our recent walks, I bent over and found myself picking up a particularly hefty pile of poop.

"Wow, Sadie," I said, actually aloud.

There was so much of it, and I began wondering what I had fed her that day to produce such a large specimen.  Furthermore, it was very hard, almost frozen.  And it actually was cold;  I did not feel its warmth through the bag.

After a moment, my brain began to piece together the clues, and I realized that I was picking up some other, much larger dog's poop.

And my gag reflex kicked in.  For a brief moment, I thought I was going to vomit.

Katherine Heigl's acting also triggers my
gag reflex.  Interestingly, it is also dog shit.
It wasn't the fact that I was picking up dog shit: It was this sudden and sickening awareness that I was holding some dog's shit in my hand, despite the fact that my hand was protected by plastic.  I've done it countless times with Sadie's poop, and never had such an appalling reaction.

It begs the question: What makes your own dog's poop better than another dog's poop?  Shouldn't they be equally vile?

Is it an issue of timing?  Is there some "five-second rule" for dog poop, where it is totally acceptable to pick it up when it is hot off the press?  Does the poop gain some mystical powers of disgustingness after it has gone untouched for a while and claimed a particular spot in the grass as its own?

Or is it just the sudden realization of the fact that you are holding shit of unknown origins that is the scary part?  Is the reason I've never been scared to pick up my own dog's shit the simple fact that I knew exactly where it came from and (almost) entirely what she ate that went into forming that particular batch of crap? 

It probably has more to do with the feeling that mothers and fathers feel about their kids.  Where it isn't gross to use your fingers to wipe away your baby's snot with your sleeve.  Because in a way, it is your own snot.

You created the kid.  You created the snot*.

*Makes you want to stop what you are doing and make babies, amirite?

But with dogs, you didn't create the dog.

You love them, care for them, and treat them like your own child, but you didn't actually create the snot.

If that makes sense.

I suppose that the main reason why it is okay to pick up your own dog's poop is the fact that it is not only socially acceptable, but encouraged.  If you walk your dog for the purposes of urinating and defecating, society expects you to leave the ground the way you found it.

And the way my paranoid brain works, I assume that everyone is peering out their windows during my walks with Sadie.  Even if she just pees, I'll still whip out a bag and do this thing where I bend over and examine the wet grass so as to verify to any potential onlookers that the area is, in fact, clear of poop.

He's not contemplating important things.  He's making sure
you clean up your shit.  (Image via

But even with this explanation of why it is not gross to pick up your own dog's poop, the question still remains: why did I gag and drop the other dog's poop?  Shouldn't the whole civic duty thing transcend dog ownership?  Shouldn't I feel empowered to pick up the slack for the lazier dog owners and make the world a cleaner place, free of land mines?

I should be okay with it.  But I'm not.  Picking up another dog's poop just feels disgusting and creepy to me.  It takes my own dog out of the equation and makes me some weird guy who is just walking around the streets with plastic bags wrapped around my hands, as I eagerly search for some dog shit to pick up.

I dunno.  The question, "why is it disgusting to pick up another dog's poop but not your own?" is one that I will probably never be able to answer.  Perhaps I'll stop picking up Sadie's poop and let another person answer it.  Surely, that must be the reason someone left their dog's massive pile of shit in the grass for me to pick up.

-Youngman Brown

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  1. hhmm it is still dog poop, I can't pick up dog poop, as much as I loved my dog I am glad we lived in a village with big picking up required.

    Also wouldn't be warm dog poo more vile than cold dog poo?

  2. That is a lot of poop talk at 7am. Yikes. As a non-dog owner (parents have them I do not) I've never had to pick up poop. We have a backyard and the "bomb squad" to clean up after our two massive doggies. I claim no poop, snot, or other fluid creating creatures. I care for some though. You are right, when you love it nothing is too gross. ... almost. Anyway, I don't blame you for dropping foreign doo doo. Not alright to heft a German Shepard's turds with you when you have a teenie tiny Sadie. Drop it like it's hot, even though it was frozen.

    Okay...too much. Have to stop.

  3. Hot off the press had me snickering. I regularly see a lady walking her dog while swinging one of those long claw things to scoop the poop. I guess she's got a weak stomach or something. I'm lucky I get to take mine where there's so much deer and coyote poop his little bit won't matter.

  4. This post had me lying in bed in a fit of giggles, and I think I scared my cat :) This was hysterical, and I can so relate. There are even times when I'm watching someone else's dog that I am not thrilled with picking up their poop, even though I know where it just came from. But yet I'm perfectly fine to pick up Kodi's...unless it's a particularly pungent and squishy one, that's still nasty.

    Oh, and my friend's dog poops the same way as Sadie. We laugh that he poops like a little old man, although probably little old men don't squat and walk and poop, but whatever, it seems to fit :) One time I tried to make him stay in place with the leash, which made him stop mid-poop, and then he couldn't finish again for a long while. I felt like such a jerk.

  5. I lol'ed (and I never use LOL unless I actually do because no) at the picking up of another dog's shit. Kira has shat NEXT to another pile and no, I did not give a moment's thought to civic duty (HAHA!) and picking that up, too.

    And while we're at it, let me just tell you about my poo woes. Kira is like Sadie in that she has to "spread the love" so I feel for you there and what's it's like to circle around trying to find it all. On top of this though Kira feels the need to go as many times as possible when we're out. Buy stock in plastic baggies because I use three each walk. BUT the worst part? Is that even if there's nothing left in her intestines, she still assumes the position and tries her best to leave her mark EVERYWHERE. Much like you, I'm paranoid about people thinking I'm not picking up after my dog so if I'm not actually picking up shit, I'm making a big show of illustrating that while my dog just squatted for a good 60 seconds, she did not, in fact, produce shit, and there was not anything for me to pick up.

    All I can say is that these dogs are lucky that they're so cute and loveable.

  6. See? this might be the exact reason I don't have a dog. Ok, not "might be", but "is".

    Every time I see an owner picking up their dogs poop in one of those baggies (and what if the baggie rips? what then???), I do not think to myself, "Wow, good job Mr. Dog Owner, doing your dog owner duty of picking up." Instead, I think (very sarcastically-- my brain is sarcastic, I can't help it):

    "That looks like soooooooo much fun."

    My cat, on the other hand, goes in her box. And every three or four days (not three or four times in ONE day), I must empty the contents and pour new litter in and give her a clean box. Plus she does not bark. Plus she purrs. Yeah, I am a cat person.

    Great post.


  7. Though I'd love to have one, I don't have a dog. However, I've been a dog sitter and worked as a vet assistant, so I've picked up many strange dogs' poop. But they weren't really strange dogs because I had a relationship with them. I think that picking up poop that belongs to a dog with whom you do not have a relationship is like wiping some strange kid's butt, which no one would ever do. Of course, I'd never even wipe my own nieces' butts, but I think see you see what I mean.

  8. It makes no sense, but yes the thought of picking up another dog's crap is disgusting. My own dog? Not a problem.

  9. Sweetie -- Get over it. It's just poop. It's not like you had to juggle three piles of it barehanded. And what makes you think I wiped my kid's snot on my sleeve?


  10. I love a good poop post!

    I can't even handle picking up my own dog's poop, yet alone poop of a strange dog.

  11. Pulling out my cell phone to illuminate the poop is probably the worst part of walking the dog at night. All those people creeping out their windows are thinking "Ew that girl wants to get a real good look at that poo." I know it. Plus my dog's favorite thing now is to climb to the top of a snow bank to go. So now I have to hike through the snow AND pull out my cell.

  12. At least you pick it up. Not everyone is so courteous. And yes, Katherine Heigl is awful.

  13. Well, I guess cold dog poo is technically more dangerous as the temperature and extended exposure to the elements allows for insects and harmful microbes to make their home in it. Luckily my dog poos once in the morning and once in the evening while the sun still illuminates the land.

  14. I had the same reaction a couple of years a go when I picked up some other dog's (cold) poo. I too recoiled in disgust. Why? I don't know.

  15. For some unfathomable reason, cold poop is much, much grosser than warm poop. When i have to de-mine the backyard in the spring, I gag pretty much the entire time.

  16. So, imagine Sadie's pooping strategy but on a great dane level.... Yup. That was my pup's same strategy just bigger. I would also never pick up a strange puppy's poop. You don't know what diseases a different puppy could have that you could give to your own puppy. Ew. No way. I would never...

  17. My guess (and it is a guess) is that most people would not even pick up their own dog's poop if they didn't have to. The sense of obligation has helped you to get past the idea that you are holding a steaming turd in your hand.

    As soon as the poop belongs to another dog, it is something that you do not have to do. Which means you are holding that turd because you chose to. That is a little disgusting, so it sickens you.


  18. My dog does the same thing, crouches and them moves around as he's pooping, making it very difficult to pick it all up.

  19. everybody poops...if it is good enough to be a children's book, then it must be true.

    we would never steer our children wrong.

    but then mebbe we have.

    Obviously the mouth-breathing miscreant that left their dogs poop was once someone's *special baby*

    or you can look at it like this...picking up another dogs' poop is a deposit in your dogkarma bank.

    i prefer to pick up frozen poop over the more malleable *fresh variety*. or wait til the torrential rains of west Michigan spring time to disintegrate the fecal remains of dog days past and then there is no pickin of poop.

    sometimes i take tUcKeR to places where the poop deposits are not needed to be picked like the woods or vacant lots filled with trash and quite possibly dead bodies.

    luckily...most times he poops in the tall grass area in our backyard, which is his designated *pooping spot*

  20. Wait, you mean you're supposed to pick that up?

    (I'm kidding)

  21. "He's out fighting poop, every hour of every day. Don't you worry about a thing, because he's got his plastic bag on the ready. Dog shit is nothing to worry about, he's got your back. He. Is. Dog Poop Man!"

    I know that jingle needs some work, but I wanted to get us started on something for now...we'll get it eventually!

    Funny stuff man!

  22. You're sure it was dog poop? Maybe it belonged to some other random dog walker, that couldn't make it back home? I mean, it's possible, isn't it?

  23. The benefits of a fenced yard and teenage boys...I rarely have to see it.

    Nor do I have that uncomfortable staring while the dogs do their business.

    Fun ditty you got here, I will be forced to rebut with "Litterbox Day"


  24. I have picked up another dog's poop because it had been left in our yard. It didn't make me sick but it anger me some. Letting it freeze in the winter I think helps the clean up process at least in your own yard. I only have grand-dogs now and one visited tonight so I'll probably playing pick-up soon.
    Funny caption on the President.

  25. I love these improved baby diapers. The old version had only one problem - the unadjustable waist. Now they have fixed it and they feel very similar to the more expensive ones! Perfect for my baby, never a leak.
    Jessica Alba Diapers

  26. This has made me laugh today, I am a new dog owner, he is 11 weeks old and poops ALL of the time. having been around dogs my whole life I thought I would be able to handle the scooping up but no, my gag reflex hasnt just kicked in its taken over my whole body.....I cant even smell the damn stuff at the moment. We have searched the world and found a very wicked device for the garden but carrying around a machine to scoop up your pups crap in public is going to look even more gross than hand scooping with a bag. Holy crap!!! ....


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