In the best of all possible worlds, I would have a poop valet.
On our walks around the neighborhood, he would follow a few steps behind Ace and me, keeping quiet, and waiting to spring into action when his services were required.
It is not picking up Ace’s poop that bothers me so much, it’s lugging the brown and bulging sack around for the rest of the walk.
The poop valet’s job would be to serve as a courier, running the bag back home to my personal garbage can — three four, five blocks away – before washing his hands, checking his pencil-thin mustache, straightening his red vest and returning to see if his services were further required, because double-doody walks, while not common, sometimes occur. (My poop valet, in my imagination, looks a lot like John Waters.)
I can’t bring myself to toss Ace’s poop in other people’s trash. That would be bad manners even if I had a tiny dog. With Ace, it would be no small deposit, taking up valuable refuse space that’s not mine, and adding a lingering scent to the recipient’s receptacle – no matter how tightly I’ve tied the bag – that is anything but lavender, pine or lemony fresh.
As I said, I can tolerate the scoopage, and the brief period of stinkiness as I tie the bag, but being new in the area – and wanting to make a positive impression upon returning to my native neighborhood – lugging an ever-present, generally full poop bag, I fear, works as a strike against me.
It seems, with everyone I have met on our walks, it has been while clutching in my hand a giant bag of poop.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, I know. Far more shameful would be not picking it up. But still, I find myself feeling slightly embarrassed and less confident at these moments. It’s hard to have self esteem when your self is carrying a steaming bag of feces.
Normally, I would just avoid meeting people – but people are friendly here, and Ace insists upon making new acquaintances, especially if the person is a female. (And I swear I never trained or encouraged him to seek out and befriend females. He just does.)
Poop bag-toting was never a big issue for us in Baltimore, because most walks were to the park, and he would wait until there to do his business. There would always be a public trash can nearby, often overflowing with other bags of — to use the local nomenclature — dog shit.
Here in Winston-Salem, though, most of our walks are through residential areas, with no communal trash cans. Here, people don’t say shit so much. Or even poop. Or even waste. My mother, a local, gets mad when I write about the topic – even though it’s one a dog writer can’t avoid stepping in from time to time. For better or worse, people are more civil here, act more polite, follow silly but sweet old traditions and wear well-pressed clothing.
I probably should start ironing my shirts (or maybe the poop valet wouldn’t mind doing that, too).
Being a large dog (130 pounds), Ace’s output (though it was less when he was on a raw diet) is pretty massive. Picture four or five Hostess Twinkies, in a pile.
I generally use white plastic grocery store bags for the chore, they being free and abundant, if not quickly biodegradable and best for the environment. Being white, being big, being full, it’s impossible to carry them discretely.
Making matters worse, our normal walking route takes us past a restaurant on the way home, with outdoor dining. At first, I would cross the street so as not to offend diners, but they have a water bowl set out for dogs, and Ace is thirsty by then.
With a poop valet, I’d have none of these problems.
As I see it, I’d still scoop – for I am not above that. I’d still tie the bag in an attempt to keep foul odors from wafting out, for I don’t consider that beneath me, either. But then I’d snap my fingers to summon the poop valet and he’d rush to my side. I would hold out the bag. He would take it.
“Very good, sir,” he would say. Then he’d trot back to my house, holding the poop bag in front of him with a fully outstretched arm, to dispose of it before returning to take his place behind us. He’d also always carry extra bags, just in case we needed one.
With the poop valet’s assistance, unencumbered by a big translucent white bag of poop, I would cut a far more charming, more appealing figure.
With a poop valet, I would no longer find myself in this position: “Hi, I’m John, this is Ace, and this is Ace’s massive output of fecal matter – one of two loads he will likely dispense today. Would you care to get a drink sometime?”
Had I a poop valet, he could carry my social calendar as well, for I’m certain – once I stop toting poop through the neighborhood – I will make many friends who want to go out, especially if I’m wearing well-pressed shirts.
Without one, I fear becoming known as the guy who’s always walking through the neighborhood with a sack-o-you-know-what.
“Oh, Poop Bag Guy. Yeah, I’ve seen him. The one who’s always wearing a wrinkled shirt, right?”
“Yeah, that one. Have you ever seen him without poop?”
“Nope, he always has it by his side.”
Eventually people would start shouting at me from across the street: “Hey, Poop Bag Guy! Howyadoin?”
In the event some of you are taking this too seriously, let me point out that lugging his leavings is a small price to pay for having the world’s most fantastic dog. And that, though big dogs leave big droppings, the loads of joy they bring far outnumber them.
In the event you’re a company that just so happens to market a handsome, discrete, odor killing poop bag “caddy,” let me say I wish you success, but that to me bagging, re-bagging and de-bagging just seems like too much work, and that I’m not willing to pay money to avoid being embarrassed (though we’ll happily run your paid advertisement).
In the event you want to be my poop valet, feel free to stop by and pick up an application, but be aware I can’t pay for that, either. It would me more of an internship, really — interns being used to doing the sh … stuff … nobody else wants to do.
And, of course, you’d have to provide your own red vest.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bag, bagging, baltimore, big dogs, caddy, clean up, courier, dog, dog walking, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, etiquette, feces, first impressions, garbage, home, impressions, john waters, large dogs, lawns, manners, neighborhood, pets, pick-up, poop, poop bag guy, poop valet, sack, scoop, self confidence, self esteem, shit, socializing, stinky, trash cans, travels with ace, walking dogs, waste, winston-salem
Time for an update on Stinky Madison, the stray and hopeless dog found in a downtown Baltimore parking lot, and taken in by a good samaritan.
In a nutshell, Stinky – who appeared pretty much on death’s doorstep (left) when Matthew Wagner found him, Facebooked him, Craigslisted him, and raised enough money on the Internet and among his co-workers to get him medical attention — is thriving, healthy and available for adoption, as you can see in Matthew’s video (above).
Matthew reports: “Stinky is doing great. He really is getting better every day. He still spends most of his time sleeping in his kennel, but is getting used to having somebody pet him and rub his tummy.
“We’re doing three or four walks a day and he’s been great around my dog, other folks and other dogs. He loves sniffing around in Patterson Park.
“He’s up for adoption. Kim at the Bulldog Rescue Farm offered to set up a Petfinder page for him.
“I have directed a few people over there to begin the adoption process. I am trying to schedule a visit with some one from Sparks, MD now who has a nice farm were she trains horses.”
Meanwhile, Stinky’s staying with Matthew and his other dog (left).
Interest in Stinky, like the donations that paid for his medical care, have come from as far away as California, but, as of today, no adoption has been finalized.
The Petfinder page describes Stinky, estimated to be about 10, as a dog who was “barely able to stand when he was found cold & hungry in a Baltimore parking lot,” but is now “warm and healthy. Stinky will be a dream dog for almost any family, he’s housebroken, walks great on a leash and is well socialized with both people and other dogs. He’s got a bit of stiffness in his back legs, which should be easily manageable with daily glucosamine, about $17/month.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, adoption, agora publishing, animal welfare, available, baltimore, bulldog rescue farm, dog, dogs, downtown, good samaritan, matthew wagner, petfiner, pets, rescue, shelter, stinky, stinky madison, stray
From all appearances, the stray dog laying on his side in the parking lot was already acquainted with the cruel side of Baltimore: The scars on his face, a tattered ear, a pus-filled eye, the ribs visible through his fur were all signs of neglect, and possible use by dogfighters.
But before the day was over, he’d find Baltimore — despite the high profile stories of dogs set afire and tortured cats — has a sweet side, too.
An employee of Agora Publishing came across the dog Friday in a nearby parking lot on St. Paul Street.
Matthew Wagner took photos of the dog, posted them on Craigslist and his Facebook page, and put a call in to the city’s Animal Control office.
Meanwhile, Michelle Ingrodi, a receptionist at Boston Street Animal Hospital, logged on to Facebook before going to work. She’d been sent a link from a friend she hadn’t seen in 10 years, who happened to be a friend of Wagner’s. It was about the dog Wagner had found.
When Ingrodi arrived for work, one of her first calls of the day was — in true Smalltimore style — from Wagner.
“He said he’d found a dog on the side of the parking lot and didn’t know what to do,” Ingrodi said. “He said he’d called animal control and they hadn’t shown up. I told him, ‘You don’t want to call animal control.’ This dog was old and sick and they might put him down immediately due to lack of space and lack of funds.”
Wagner asked how much it would cost if he were to bring the dog in to be checked, but Ingrodi told him there was no way of knowing. It depended on how extensive his problems were. She suggested that Wagner bring the dog in and — through his friends and Internet connections — ask anyone who was willing to donate to the dog’s care to contact the animal hospital.
Wagner made an appointment for 4 p.m., then went back outside, got the dog, and brought him into the offices of Agora Publishing. He got back on the computer, revised his posts, including the veterinary office’s phone number; then he began asking co-workers if they might be willing to contribute.
At 4 p.m., when he walked into the vets office, Ingrodi told him what had happened, within just a few short hours: The animal hospital had received $1,325 in donations — some form Wagner’s co-workers, most from strangers who’d seen the account he’d posted and photos of the dog on Facebook and Craigslist.
The dog was malnourished, had a bad cut on his eye, and had several infected wounds. He was estimated to be 10 to 12 years old. X-rays showed nothing was broken. His cuts were treated, and the dog — initially dubbed Stinky Madison — was given a bath and, later, an assortment of food and supplies at Dogma. Wagner took the dog home and, after a $500-plus vet bill, still had $700-plus for future care and treatment.
“His co-workers started calling first, making $50 donations,” said Ingroti, who was answering the phones at the animal hospital. “Then people started sharing it on a Facebook, random people – even someone from California. We had $325 within 25 minutes. Our phones have never rung like that. I had to turn down four or five donations.
“Here’s a dog who probably lay down in the gutter thinking ‘this is it.’ Then all these random people come together to save him — just complete strangers. I’m blown away, especially considering the way things are going in shelters now, with a lot of people giving up their pets. Something like this restores your faith in humanity.”
Wagner plans to care for the dog at least temporarily, she said.
Ingroti said the dog left the hospital looking tired but content. “He’s got some tired old bones, and he’s a little apprehensive. You can see in his eyes that something has happened to him, and he’s just not sure it’s a good idea to come near you. But he takes love if you give it.”
Baltimore, this time, gave it.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abused, agora publishing, animal welfare, animals, balitmore, boston street animal hospital, dog, dogfighting, donations, downtown, humanity, injuries, madison, matthew wagner, michelle ingrodi, neglected, parking lot, pets, rescue, rescued, save, saved, scars, stinky, stray, streets
Ace and a few friends — in honor of his master’s birthday (yes, it’s today) — enjoyed a hike at Gunpowder Falls State Park this week, one that left all involved a trifle muddy and a tad stinky.
Pets, though rules say they must be leashed at all times, are permitted in all areas of the park except for the Hammerman Area. (The dogs in these photos are wearing the new Invisi-Leash, from Fraudco, available only in, uh, my dreams.)
We traipsed the Sweathouse Trail, the trailhead and parking area for which are located where Route 1 (Bel Air Road) crosses the Big Gunpowder Falls, about 5.4 miles north of I-695.
Ace, below, and Fanny, above, have decidedly different approaches to hiking — Ace’s being somewhat restrained perhaps I’ll dip my paw in this water before I continue plodding along; Fanny’s being more pinball- like, kamikaze-on-speed, plunge on in and figure out what you’ve plunged into later.
It was only a 1.7 mile trail, but Fanny probably logged at least eight miles in her roaming. (The Invisi-Leash, I forgot to mention, is infinitely extendable.)
It was a lovely evening jaunt, but now, before the birthday festivities resume, Ace — the Gunpowder running quite muddy and pungent this time of year — really needs a bath.
If you’re wondering what to get me, I could always use another Invisi-Leash.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, adventures, baltimore, fanny, gunpowder, gunpowder falls, hike, hikes, hikes with dogs, invisi-leash, invisible leash, maryland, muddy, state park, stinky, sweathouse trail, waters
But after a little opinion piece that appeared yesterday in a Baltimore Sun feature called Second Opinion – one that opined all dogs should always be on leashes because some of them interfere with joggers — I have no choice.
I’m coming out against joggers.
The Sun editorial blurb begins this way: “The city is fining people who let their dogs roam off-leash $1,000. I say good.
“I’m a runner, and I can’t count the number of times dogs have snapped, lurched and barked at me as I went past. Perhaps even more galling than the canine response in these situations is the human one. Almost without fail the dog’s owner will look at me with wonder and bewilderment, as if I must have done something wrong to elicit such a mysterious reaction. You may think your furry friend is cute and harmless, but I’ve got news for you: He or she is almost never quite so well behaved as you think … I object to many dog advocates’ apparent belief that leash laws should merely be a suggestion.”
Typical jogger logic, or lack thereof. The consistent jarring of the brain that occurs while jogging is the culprit, leading joggers to think they have dominion, not just over animals, but over non-jogging man, not to mention motor vehicle and bicyclist.
Joggers annoy me. Joggers scare me. Joggers get in my way and, more often, make me feel I am in their’s. They leave foul scents in their wake, and often fling off little sweat particles, which assuredly contain swine flu or other germs, as they churn their arms and pant, interfering with my God-given (but city taken away) right to enjoy tobacco products. Worse yet, they make me feel fat, lazy and unhealthy, which, even though I am, there’s no reason to so relentlessly pound that point in.
Joggers tend to eat only healthy and fibrous food, and as a result have no sense of humor.
Most irksome though, they think they are above everyone else. They — though I must admit some dog people fit this one too — often come across as holier than thou, or at least skinnier than thou.
Joggers like everything to be predictable. Dogs are not. That’s what makes them more interesting than joggers. True, humans are more intelligent, meaning they should have the brains to maybe adjust their path or swerve out of the way when nearing dogs. But joggers don’t, because they don’t want to vary their monotonous route and run the risk of seeing something new.
They are a hazard, traveling at an unsafe speed, often while tuning everything out except the music pumping through their ear buds, thus endangering small children, and the elderly.
On the sidewalks, they get impatient if someone is so crass as to be walking in front of them at a normal rate of speed, forcing them to slow their all-important pace. If they run up against a traffic signal, they tend to either violate the law and jayrun, or, far more annoying yet, do that little running in place thing they do while they wait for the signal to change.
There is, I’m told, something called a runner’s high. While I would not interfere with a joggers’ right to achieve this state of euphoria, I think it should be done in the privacy of their homes, or in a stinky gym on a treadmill – not out in public, and certainly not, in their intoxicated state, on the roadways and sidewalks.
It doesn’t seem right that dogs are taking all the heat when it comes to park issues — least of all from joggers. There are far more annoying things at the park — any park — on any given day. Joggers, as I believe I’ve mentioned, but also operators of little remote control cars that make an awful whiny noise, annoying to both humans and dogs. Also people who drop the f-bomb every third or fourth word, often with their children alongside them. Also skateboarders. Also drug dealers. Also spitters. Also people playing music louder than any dog could ever bark. I could go on, but the point is, should we criminalize all of them?
Of course not.
Only the joggers.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animals, annoying, baltimore, baltimore sun, behavior, criminalize, dog, dogs, dominion, editorial, f-bomb, f-word, hazardous, health, healthy, humor, illegal, interfering, joggers, leash free, leash law, leashed, ohmidog!, opinion, outlaw, parks, remote control cars, rights, runners high, running, satire, scourge, skateboarders, smelly, stinky, sweaty, unhealthy, unleashed