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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today - A Really Crappy Walk

It's a beautiful May Saturday! Cool and sunny, perfect for a long walk in the neighborhood with Toby. After my Jazzercise workout, shower, and breakfast, we set out for our urban hike. I had the requisite brown plastic shopping bag in my pocket for Toby's inevitable bathroom break. 

It's so funny to watch him decide which mailboxes, light posts, grass clumps, or bushes need a sprinkle to let other dogs know he's been there. He'll spend up to a minute (if we let him) sniffing. What can possibly be so interesting to sniff for that long? The experts say dogs can determine the sex, age, diet, and dominance quotient of all the other dogs who've been by just by sniffing their pee. After his investigation Toby might lift his leg and add his own information to the collection. On the other hand, he's just as likely to trot away, as if that particular spot wasn't worthy of his valuable urine.
Toby doesn't do headstands though.
Similarly, Toby will put his nose to the grass like a bloodhound, sniffing mightily as he walks along. When he starts doing this, we know it's almost time to use that plastic bag. He might do this for an entire block. Suddenly he plants his feet and sweeps his nose from side to side. He may turn in a few circles, still sniffing. Apparently his poop must be dropped in precisely the proper spot. How does he decide where that spot is? Why does it matter so much? I think we'll never really understand some of the things dogs think are important. I wonder which of the things I'm picky about are baffling to Toby. Does he think, "Really, guys? Another shower? What's this boring obsession with cleanliness?"

As I picked up Toby's doggie poo (one of the few truly unfortunate obligations of owning a dog) I noticed that he had a touch of diarrhea. Probably he's been eating or licking the numerous toads that live in our back yard. A bit farther down the street at the neighborhood park I dropped his waste into a trash can. We continued down the street and a few minutes later a white plastic shopping bag blew across the sidewalk in front of us. I hate litter, especially those bags, so I picked it up and put it into my pocket.

We turned into the home stretch, just about a half mile to go. The sun was warm, there was that new-mowed grass smell everywhere, and in our neighborhood there is a lot of pride in colorful flowers and attractive landscaping. Wherever there were sprinklers operating, Toby pulled at the leash to get at 'em. He loves to bite the jets of water. All of a sudden, in one of those yards where the grass is PERFECT, Toby's nose went back down into bloodhound position. Twice in one walk!

Ordinarily this would be a disaster. Socially, because of course everyone hates it when someone leaves their dog's poop steaming in other people's yards. Ethically, because when you live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, "the number one problem of the Bay is Number Two"! (The advertising of local conservation groups to convince folks living along the Lynnhaven River to pick up the dog waste have been a big part of Lynnhaven oysters being fit for consumption for the first time in years.)

But this time, I could pull the white bag from my pocket, smugly congratulating myself on my cleverness. Who says good deeds aren't rewarded?  Scooping away, Toby's mess was really runny this time. Yuck. I tied off the bag and we set off again, almost home. 
Ewww! Somehow I'd gotten some of it on my calf! I walked a little faster. I was anxious to get home now to  wash my hands and leg. Then I looked down and my right shoe had a big splat of poop on it. Gross. How did that get there? A few steps more and I realized I now had it on my shorts too.  Then it dawned on me - there was a hole in that bag I'd been so proud of myself for using!

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