Monday, December 3, 2012

"Walking The Dog" *

* Not the yoyo trick.  So don’t link to it, or you’ll disappoint people.

I recall – though as is usual these days not precisely – a New Yorker cartoon, depicting two dogs on the street watching their two owners picking up their poop droppings from the sidewalk, and one dog says to the other,

“If people from another planet saw this, they would think that we run this place.”

When Rachel and Tim got their part dachshund-part Chihuahua they named Bean, very close to the first thing that emerged from my mouth was, “I am not picking up dog poop.”

This was not an entirely irrational announcement.  Though now an adult, Rachel is still someone’s daughter – or in my case, stepdaughter – and there remains the unfaded memory of the “family” cockatiel that I ended up taking care of, refilling “Cheeky’s” food and water containers even though he bit me, and taking him out of his cage and playing with him even though he bit me. 

The specter of children’s house pets evolving into parents’ obligations remains disturbingly strong, even when the kid in question’s pushing forty.  And she doesn’t live with you anymore.

And then, she moves back.  With husband Tim, Baby Milo, and yes, Bean.  Unexpected complications in their new house’s availability have required their visit to be extended.  Open-endedly. 

In such cases, a battery of new responsibilities arise.  And who would be so inhospitable as to not, at least minimally, pitch in? 

I volunteer to walk the dog.


what that will inevitably


Unless you have a congenitally constipated dog, the two chores – the walking and…the other thing – are inextricably intertwined.  I remember as a five year-old screaming, “I like ice cream, but take away the ‘cold’!”  No can do, Earlo.  Any more than you can separate the dog walking from…the “pickup” responsibilities.  There is no way to get around it.  It’s a “package deal.”

(AN INTERCEDING TRAVEL NOTE:  While vacationing in Rome, inhabiting a rented apartment in an notably upscale district of the city, our morning walks revealed unreclaimed dog doo-doo all over the place.  You really had to watch where you were walking.  So I guess there’s a cultural element involved here.  Upscale Romans must believe it’s the pedestrian’s responsibility to keep their eyes open.  Maybe they consider discarded dog droppings to be fertilizing “sidewalk mulch.”)

I clip the leash to Bean’s collar, and off we go.  The leash includes in its construction a container, housing an extended string of blue, plastic bags.  This not being my first dog-walking rodeo, I am now entirely conversant with the drill. 

When the “Moment of Truth” arrives – indicated by the dog’s refusal to proceed forward and his assuming a hunkering position accompanied by a determined look on his face – you pull out a bag, separating it from its compadres at the perforation, you turn it inside-out on your hand, you reach down…I’ll leave out the next part …you invert the plastic bag, and there it is.  Inside.  Untouched.  But still…

You’re holding it.  (At this point, grateful at least that it‘s a small dog.)

The problem is, as it turned out, I wound up “holding the bag” for an uncomfortably long time.

In contrast to previous walks Bean and I had taken at the beach where the “Refuse Bins” are ubiquitous, on this neighborhood walk, there was, it seemed liked forever,

No place to dump it.

This had never happened to me before.  What was I supposed to do now? 

It not being “Collection Day”, the trashcans I passed were beyond my reach, standing unhelpfully behind padlocked gates.  I passed a U-Haul Truck parked by the curb, and thought about tossing it in the back and letting them drive it to another neighborhood.  But something inside me told me that was wrong. 

Oh, here’s one.  I had brought along three letters to mail, and when I got to the mailbox…

It was close, but I didn’t do it.  I just dropped in the letters, and moved on.

Still holding my package.

It is true that I’ve been known to imagine things.  But it definitely seemed as if pedestrians headed in my direction were deliberately crossing the street to avoid me.  Passing cars appeared to veer out of their lanes, distancing themselves as much as was safely possible from me and my little blue bag of Doggie Doo.

It was apparent that my responsible deed had made me a Walking Pariah.  And there was no end in sight.  I trudged along, a Pedestrial Outcast, destined, it seemed, to carry this odiferous Bag of Stigma to my Doom!

It is true that not all adventures are equally dramatic.  You know, there was that guy stuck in the cave who wound up cutting his own arm off – that was unquestionably an adventure.  But in the circumscribed context of “Will this agony never end?”, a man carrying a bag of dog poop with nowhere in sight to deposit it brings with it, you will agree and if you don’t you can take my word for it, a compatible sense of being desperately alone in an uncaring world.

And then, with hope a depleting commodity, as with all adventures – a rescue.

Following what felt like miles but was more like four blocks, with a dog on a leash in one hand and a bag of poop in the other, I arrived at an alley.  Hypocritically, as I am not conventionally religious, I prayed that the alley would contain accessible trashcans that could serve as a final resting place for my excremental parcel.  Fearful that my fevered condition might conjure up a “Trashcan Mirage”, I intrepidly turned my head, and peered fingers-crossedly down the alley.

And there they were – seemingly dozens of trashcans, but actually just four, and three of them were labeled “Paper and Glass Only!”  I stepped up to the can marked “BASURA” – which is Spanish for “trash” – tipped up the lid, and, with a sigh or overacted relief, unburdened myself of my duties.

We turned away from the alley, heading home without further incident. 

Except for two “pee” stops, which we are fortunately required to do nothing about.


GRayR said...

In our Central Coast Disneyesque little town it is almost a requirement that you must have a bag in hand when walking your dog.

As you walk you can wave the empty as if to say, "I'm gonna pick it up!" Not as much glowering from the neighbors that way.

And when finished and you have a full bag you wave it around proudly and say "See, I picked it up!"

Walking your dog without a bag in hand is a faux paw.

(Sorry, could not help myself)

Edmond Fitzgerald said...

poop oop e dupe

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