I think that I shall never see
a tree unscathed by doggie pee
– Not Joyce Kilmer
Maybe there are some out there — a tree or two that, in their lifetimes, have somehow avoided ever being annointed by dog.
But, sharing the country with 75 million dogs, as both trees and we do, that is unlikely — and even more so in paved-over urban areas, where dogs sometimes outnumber trees, the living things they seem to most like to pee on.
For centuries, there seems to have been an unwritten agreement — a pee-ful coexistence — between dogs and trees. But, at least for half a century or so, there have been worries expressed about the cumulative effect of the continual sprinkling that some trees undergo, especially those in densely populated urban areas.
Some were recently voiced by a Philadelphia woman with an interesting perspective. Carrie Maria owns Monster Minders, a Philadelphia dog-walking service, and she’s a graduate of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Tree Tenders program.
“Urine is highly acidic,” Maria wrote on the The Monster Minders blog. “Simply put, dogs’ urine ‘burns’ the tree’s trunk to the point that the tree becomes susceptible to diseases, pests, dehydration and nutrient loss.”
Maria’s report drew the attention of The Atlantic, which ran a lengthy piece on its blog, Atlantic Cities, complete with photos she had taken of disfigured trees in her neighborhood she says are likely victims of pee-blight.
We can’t confirm that the damaged trees she photographed (pictured here) are solely victims of dog pee — and neither could experts. But we give her credit for speaking up for the underdog, which in this particular case is trees.
“Your dog ‘marks’ the tree, then another dog walks by 10 minutes later, smells your dog’s scent and hits it again, 15 minutes later and another dog walks by, hits it again. This goes on day in and day out … One dog’s scent ends up on a tree and others just keep marking it, over and over until the tree is compromised.”
Where I live — not in a real big city, not downtown — the yard in front of my apartment has huge oak trees, planted probably a good half century ago, or more. Ace pees on his favorite one regularly, but it’s so well-established it doesn’t seem to mind, and show no signs of damage.
About this time of year, the oak trees start raining acorns, and every once in a while one drops and hits Ace in the head. He jumps up and looks around, unaware he has been the victim of poetic justice.
Impervious as the big oaks in my yard may be, saplings in cities — the ones growing in a few square feet of dirt, the ones that have become potty stops for dozens of dogs daily — are another story.
“Repeated hits with urine basically causes an ‘open wound’ right on the base on the tree. Since the bombardment from pee is semi-constant in an urban environment, the trees never have a chance to heal from past damage. These wounds open the trees up to a slew of diseases that they just can’t fight off.” Maria wrote.
Her solution: Curb your dog.
It’s an old phrase, and one that – outside of places like New York — lots of people don’t even understand. It means to pee where the street meets the curb. And while that may lead to gutters running yellow, and car tires taking on a pee-scent, thereby attracting more to dogs to take aim on them, Maria finds that preferable to the tree assault.
“It’s simple. Redirect your dog when he/she is headed for a tree,” Maria says. ”Teach your dog to ‘curb it.’”
How big a factor is dog pee, compared to all the other hazards urban trees face — like road salt, car doors, poor soil, limited room to grow and youths with pen knives? As the Atlantic Cities blog points out, experts aren’t sure:
“Whether pee hurts trees is a question that’s attracted virtually no research attention since its earliest mention in the academic literature …”
The post mentions one presentation, way back in 1959, in which a plant pathologist named Pascal Pirone warned of the dangers. In ‘Why shade trees die along city streets,’ a presentation given at the International Shade Tree Conference, he said ‘dog canker’ could kill trees up to 6 inches in diameter.”
But the Atlantic post also quoted a staff member at the Smithsonian Institution’s horticulture department as saying the trunk damage shown in Maria’s photos could have come from a number of causes, “including mechanical damage [i.e. mowers, car doors, pedestrians], southwest injury, disease [cankers], and insects [borers].”
While the extent of the harm caused by dog urine remains untallied, most experts agree it can’t be helping trees.
“We deal with it in the sense that I imagine trees get added stress or maybe anxiety” from dogs, says John Thomas, associate director at Washington, D.C.’s Urban Forestry Administration. “I don’t know how much dog urine you need to kill a tree. But there’s definitely something there…. Somebody could definitely get a masters or Ph.D. out of studying it.”
(Photos: Top photo by John Woestendiek; tree photos by Carrie Maria / Monster Minders)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acid, animals, atlantic cities, blogs, carrie maria, curb, curb your dog, damage, dog, dogs, downtown, health, horticulture, marking, monster minders, pee, pets, philadelphia, saplings, scent, trees, urban, urination, urine
UPDATE: Oscar, the dachshund who was hit by a car after being fed a gummy worm laced with LSD, has been euthanized
A dog who police say was fed LSD was hit by a car in Snellville, Georgia, Sunday night.
Police questioned a couple at their home after recieving reports that they had been running naked through the neighborhood.
The man and woman were taken to a hospital, and, on the way, told EMT’s that they had taken LSD and had given some to Oscar, a long-haired dachshund, according to a police report about the incident, reprinted on The Smoking Gun website.
Police later learned the dog had been hit by a vehicle on a nearby road.
Snellville police Capt. Harold Thomas said Nicholas Modrich and Jamie Hughes, both 25, will face drug charges and possible animal cruelty charges.
“They were tripping pretty hard,” Thomas told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Two family members were bitten by Oscar when, after getting word he’d been hit by a car, they went to recover him.
He was later picked up by Gwinnett Animal Control, then transferred to an animal hospital. The extent of his injuries wasn’t known.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: acid, animals, arrest, car, dachshund, dog, dog fed lsd, dogs, drugs, euthanized, fed, georgia, injured, law enforcement, lsd, naked, oscar, pets, police, running, snellville, struck
One of them was a puppy, a pit bull mix named Ash, who was featured in news reports and, after medical treatment and some time in foster care, adopted out to a new home.
The other was this fellow to your left, a one-year-old pug mix who has also recovered from his burns — though his back, too, remains scarred – but hasn’t gotten as much press as his partner.
Maybe it was because his pug-something mix didn’t have the media appeal of a pit bull. Maybe someone found his underbite, which makes him look a little like a miniature wolfman, camera-unfriendly.
When I ran into Wolfie, as he has been named, at an adoption event/fundraiser in Cave Creek, Arizona, Saturday, he seemed eager to flash his grin and happy to pose for my camera.
But, by weekend’s end and after appearing at two adoption events — one at For Goodness Sake, a thrift store in Cave Creek whose sales benefit animal rescue groups, another at an area pet store — Wolfie remained in need of a permanent home.
He’s an affectionate little dog who — though he still gets scared by strange objects and sudden motions — gets along well with both other dogs and humans, according to Paula Monarch, who’s serving as his foster mom through Little Rascals Rescue.
Wolfie has been in Paula’s care since September — about a month after he and Ash were found in South Phoenix, both with severe burns that were believed to have been caused by chemicals, acids or pool cleaners.
Officials suspect it was an intentional act, but no arrests have been made.
They’ve healed over and no longer cause him any pain, but because of the hairless streaks on his back, he’ll probably need to wear sun screen or a T-shirt if he spends much time outside.
Paula said she suspects Wolfie may have suffered other abuse, as well. He gets nervous when she picks up the remote control, and will scurry away with his tail between his legs.
Before long, though, he’s over it and cuddling again.
Already, the tale of Wolfie is a brighter one than that of a Phoenix, a pit bull who was set on fire in Baltimore last year. Despite a valiant fight, she died several days later, but her case led to an ongoing re-examination of how best to fight animal cruelty in the city.
Wolfie made no headlines, and he’s still waiting for that one person or family who see courage in his bald spots, beauty in his underbite, and will ensure the next chapter of his story is a happy one.
If you’re interested in adopting Wolfie, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Jen at 623-210-6578, Ryan at 623-606-4855, or Patti at 602-943-7059.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, acid, adopt, adoptable, animals, arizona, ash, burned, burns, cave creek, chemical, coverage, dog needs home, dogs, ending, for goodness sake, happy, home, little rascals rescue, mix, news, pets, phoenix, pit bull, pug, rescue, rescued, rescues, shelter, wolfie