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Alan Chartock: I Publius — Dog walking woes

But why, then, is the offending pile in the same place every day or night? No, I think that the wayward dog owner is fully cognizant of what his pet is doing.

There are some things that send me over the edge. One, which I have written about several times, concerns those miscreants who will not clean up their dogs’ poop. When I take Murray the dog out for a walk, I always pick up after him. Interestingly, when we are in New York City I see far less dog poop than I do on the Great Barrington Hill. How can I tell which dogs are leaving the deposits? If you are good at it, you recognize the circumference and the color of the poop. In “Law and Order,” they can always tell you the time of death by when rigor mortis has set in. The same goes for poop. You can tell how long the poop has been on the ground, and one lawbreaker in our neighborhood must come around in the middle of the night.

The psychological orientation of the dog owner is particularly fascinating to me. He or she has to know that the droppings will be offensive to the homeowner whose lawn has been desecrated. In other words, Big Fido’s owner may have a peculiar type of satisfaction that comes from annoying other human beings. That makes the individual, well, peculiar.

There are some reasons why they may do that. One is that, like me, they have a bad back and have real trouble reaching down to pick up after their pooch, so they just leave it where it fell. Also, they may be temporarily distracted by conversing with someone on a cell phone or looking at an attractive person passing by. But why, then, is the offending pile in the same place every day or night? No, I think that the wayward dog owner is fully cognizant of what his pet is doing. I put the owners of these animals right up there with drivers speeding on our roads. The drivers are far more dangerous, unless you believe that having dog poop on the street presents a health risk. I mean, we don’t allow human feces in the streets, so why do would we assume that dog poop is any less disgusting?

The reason I am writing this screed just one more time is that something brand new has recently been added to the poop mix. Growing up on the West Side of Manhattan and venturing into Central Park, I got used to seeing horse poop on the riding trails. Not only that, you could smell the stuff.

Now the town of Great Barrington has done some of what it promised and made a section of the Lake Mansfield Road one way. Additionally, it has cordoned off a pedestrian section of the one-way road. It’s great, and the highway department and town manager should be congratulated for their fine work. It has actually slowed down the traffic and it may be my imagination, but an awful lot of people are walking along the new road — terrific.

This whole thing has been complicated by either a seriously big dog, or more likely, the aforementioned horse or horses because the other morning, right in the middle of the new pedestrian walkway, was the largest load of horse poop you ever saw. Imagine that!

Now we all know that some clever inventor long ago came up with a device that goes under the horse to catch the poop. The horse rider either knew not of that device or just thought it was unnecessary. Naturally, some citizens were upset, but at least one local inhabitant notified her complaining neighbors that she would bring her shovel and use the horse output in her garden. Anyway, we can only hope this was a one-off, even though the whole occurrence became the news of the week.

Someone picked it up and we’re all waiting with bated breath to see whether this new insult is repeated.


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