Saturday, April 18, 2015

Why People Let Their Dogs Poop in Public

I am a responsible poop picker upper.

I bag Caitlin's poops and put them in the nearest trash can 99.44% of the time. I can remember only 2 or 3 times in the 3 1/2 years I've had her that I neglected to pick one up and only once when I picked it up and threw it into the bushes instead of a trash can.

I have always thought of myself as a shining example of civic responsibility and felt infinitely superior to the feckless ne'er do wells who permit their dog's excrement to blight the parks and pavements. (One of those feckless ne'er do wells is our friend, Lee. If his dog, Kaylee, poops on a walk, he insists that, as a biodegradable substance, the poop should be left to enrich the soil. He does pick it up at the dog park, where pooper scoopers are provided, and there are lots of other people.)

Last week Rob & I took Kaylee for a week of dog-sitting, and I began taking her for walks.

Caitlin's poops fit quite nicely into the dog waste bags that are provided free at all the city parks. Also, they are usually firm enough to be picked up off grass or pavement without leaving an unsightly brown smear in their wake.
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Convenient and easy to use for a dog Caitlin's size
Kaylee's poops are the size of a wedding cake and the consistency of a half-melted Dairy Queen. When I tried to pick one up with a standard dog waste bag, I got poop all over the outside of the bag and my hands, but very little of it actually inside the bag.
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They look like this, only runnier
Then I got it all over my jeans in my effort to extract a wet-wipe from my back pocket. With the poopy bag in one hand, and the wet-wipe in the other, I used my teeth to rip the package open, thereby smearing poop on my chin.
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These are quite difficult to open with a poop bag in your hand.
The wet-wipe got most of the visible poop off my person, but I could still smell it on my hands. Luckily, about 3 blocks from the poop site, I saw a lavender bush. Disregarding anyone's property rights, I stripped one of the branches and rubbed myself with lavender until I could no longer smell poop.

The next day, I brought along a large (soon-to-be-illegal-in-California) plastic shopping bag, and used that to scoop the poop. I still got some poop on my hands, and I still didn't get it all off the sidewalk.

With a couple more days of practice, I became skillful enough to get a large percentage of the poop into the bag and only a small percentage on either the outside of the bag or my hands. I also figured out that if I tore open the wet-wipe before attempting to retrieve the poop, I would be less likely to get poop on my clothing and face.

I don't believe it would be possible to get an entire Kaylee-poop off either pavement or grass without a pressure washer, and I can now understand why anyone who owned Kaylee or her ilk would be sorely tempted to leave the poop in situ.

I few days ago, Science Daily sent me an article entitled "Why People Let Their Dogs Defecate in Public and Don't Clean Up After Them."
The Photo in the Science Daily Article. This lady has a bag, and I bet she picked up the poop!
In the light of my recent excremental insights, I thought I'd see what the scientists had to say about it. Science Daily included a link to the original article: "Natural Waste: Canine Companions and the Lure of Inattentively Pooping in Public," by Matthias Gross, published in Environmental Sociology, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2015.

The complete text of the article is available for download, and can be translated into just about every language from Albanian to Zulu. It has comprehensive notes, and you can click on the notes to inspect the author's sources and get further information and lots of photos of poop.

I immediately recognized that this is an actual scholarly article and not some dumbed-down rendition meant for the ignorant layperson. (You can tell by the density of polysyllabic technical terms--also known as gobbledygook--to be found.) Here's a snippet from the abstract: 
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    " the observed varieties of inattentively pooping in public are categorized into three main types in order to highlight different forms of knowing or not knowing about excrement in emerging associations between dog and dog owner through the medium of poop."

Here are some of the highlights:

When you go out the door with your dog on a leash, an entity called a "hudogledog" pops into existence. In scholastispeak a hudogledog is defined as "--an association (or co(a)gency comprised of (sic*) a human, a dog lead and a dog,"** In actual English, "a dog-walker."
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A hudogledog

Afternoon hudogledogs pick up poops more often than morning hudogledogs--because (the author surmises) there are more people (and other hudogledogs) about to notice.

Before bagging the poop, the human component of most hudogledogs will glance surreptitiously over his or her shoulder--to see whether (the author surmises) his or her civic virtue is being appreciated.

Many hudogledogs who bag the poop don't put it in a trash can. Often they hang it on a fence or in a tree. The author was unable to surmise their reasons for this.
Dog Poop Hung on a Fence

Irresponsible hudogledogs (the ones who don't scoop the poop) often employ "nonknowledge as a productive strategic conceal the fact that one end of the Hudogledog has done something that may be considered a person, who may then express their objection to the other end of the hybrid"

In actual English, "they pretend they didn't see their dog poop so that no one will yell at them."

The author does a fair amount of surmising. He followed his subjects at a distance and didn't ask any questions because (in his own words) "my few attempts to ask dog walkers about their habit were often met with aggression towards the questioner (‘mind your own business,’ ‘don’t you have anything else to do with your time?’ were among the more friendly statements) so that a more silent go-along became the method of choice"

It's obvious to me that the scholarly research on hudogledogs is in its infancy. Among other things, the nomenclature needs to be amplified and refined--to which end I respectfully suggest a few refinements of my own. In the interest of brevity, I confine myself to pictures only (with a brief caption)
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A hudogledog holding hands with a partial hudogledog

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A hudogledogledogledogledogledogledogledogledogledogledogledog

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A dodogledog
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A dodogledogledogledog
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I'm not sure whether this is a docheehlechee or a cheedogledog
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A hudoglecheeledoglecheedog
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I figure I've just saved six-thousand words of scholastispeak.

* "Comprise" is a transitive verb."Comprised of" is both incorrect and redundant, as "comprise" already means "composed of." Anyone egotistical enough to write this fatuous jargon ought at least to take the trouble to learn what his words mean.

** Source of hudogledog definition & more complete explanation: This is serious scholastispeak.
from p. 295 of Design and the Question of History by Tony Fry, Clive Dilnot, and Susan Stewart: "Performative associations have diverse temporalities. Mike Michael's "hudogledog,"--an association (or co(a)gency comprised of a human, a dog lead and a dog, has the temporality of a pulse..While gathered into association, the hudogledog brings into being a particular mode of behavior and sensibility, a particular experience of space, time, and body, a particular set of relationships with the wider world--with trees and posts, with other hudogledogs (or partial hudogledogs) with plastic bags and neighborhood responsibilities..."

original creation of hudogledog
Reconnecting Culture, Technology and Nature: From Society to Heterogeneity by Mike Michaels
another scholarly reference the the hudogledog
and another