Eeewwww! There it lies. A big, stinky, dog poop right in the middle of the sidewalk. Even my own dog shies away and seems dismayed that anyone would leave such a “present” where anyone could step on it. By all rights, I too should simply walk away. But, I walk my dog in this area several times a day. I can see that the nearest car in the parking lot belongs to someone who works in my own company. If I just walk away, I know that my dog and I will have to endure the sneers of angry neighbors. We will bear the blame for someone else’s lack of consideration. I must act. Today, I choose to scoop the poop of someone else’s dog. Fortunately, as a long-time dog owner, I am well-versed in the art of picking up after my dog. Here and now, I will share the nuances of poop scooping so that less considerate dog owners may change their ways.
First, you must overcome your aversion to picking up your dog’s fecal matter. We all perform the same function ourselves. Babies soil diapers. Cats soil their litter boxes. Dogs sometimes relieve themselves in the worst places. But, it’s only poop. With proper equipment and proper training, your skin will never actually touch it. It isn’t overly dangerous. It isn’t collected by terrorist groups for use in bio-weapons. It isn’t radioactive. You can do it!
Second, you must properly equip yourself for scooping up after your dog. At a minimum, you will need a plastic grocery bag. In selecting such a bag, you will need to ensure that it has no rips or tears that could inadvertently expose your hand to canine fecal matter. If you want to be even further removed from the dog droppings, you can purchase a dedicated pooper scooper at almost any pet store. Some have long handles so that you will hardly even have to stoop to scoop. The drawback to such dedicated scoopers is that they are hard to store. No one wants to bring a soiled pooper scooper into their own house. You need a dedicated outdoor storage space. If you have your own yard, a big terracotta pot by your back door should do the trick. In a pinch, even a big bush or shrub can discreetly conceal your pooper scooper until times of need. However, if you have a little more income to spend, disposable pooper scoopers (such as the Dispoz-a-Scoop) integrate a sturdy plastic bag into a frame of wire and cardboard. You simply scoop the poop, and press the cardboard handle into the ground, and the wire frame collapses into the handle. The poop is sealed in the plastic bag and the whole scooper can be thrown into the trash. With the right equipment, poop scooping is easy.
Third, you must practice the right scooping technique. To scoop with your hand or a short scooper, it is very important to bend at the knees. According to experts, bending that the knees saves your back from strain and the potential for a slipped disc. Once you’ve bent at your knees, you need to pick up the poop. If you are using a simple grocery store plastic bag, reach your hand into the bag and use it like a mitten to scoop up the poop. Then withdraw your hand and pull the bag inside out with your non-scooping hand. Done properly, this should trap the poop within the bag. The bag can then be loosely tied by the handles for easy disposal. If you are using a hand-held scooping device (other than a bag) you typically must sweep your poop scooping arm downward and through the poop with sufficient velocity to separate the poop from the ground and sweep it into the bag. Follow through with your sweeping motion until your arm is parallel to the ground. If the poop does not automatically fall to the bottom of your scooping device, you may need to add a quick shake at the end of your motion. Then simply ferry the poop to a proper trash receptacle for disposal. With the right technique, you can’t fail in an attempt to scoop the dog poop.
Finally, you must deposit any scooped poop in a proper garbage can. Etiquette demands that the poop be disposed of in a public garbage can or a can that you own. If you are lucky, your community may have provided a Dog-i-pot station for the convenience of pet owners. In the event that a public trash receptacle is not available, you may drop the poop in a private trash can, provided that the garbage man has not come yet and provided that you have a plastic trash bag to properly seal the dog feces so that it does not come in actual contact with the interior of the trash can.
Now, you know the ancient art of cleaning up after your dog. You can walk your dog and know that you are not being a public nuisance. You are equipped and trained to clean up after your dog. So, next time, I’m not cleaning up after your dog. It’s kind of gross.