Guilt Free Dog Walking
My brothers, Scott and Seth, used to have a blog at the domain www.fattriplets.com. We did some interesting posts back then and my brother recently restored the archive and so I will start reposting some of my better articles here. This is the first.
P.S Note that our beloved Luke is no longer with us. The photo below is one I took just before I drove him to the vet to be put down. We now have two more beloved dogs, Gypsy, who we adopted in 2011 and Hudson, who we adopted in December.
We have a great dog. We used to have two great dogs. But one day, several months ago, the angel of death visited our home and he died, along with a half-frog/half-tadpole and some baby birds that had nested in our carport. On the same day. I kid you not.
Anyway, the quality of Luke’s life has increased dramatically since Stirling, our 13 year old West Highland Terrier died. Stirling, you see, was not adequately housebroken. He liked marking his territory. So Stirling, and therefore Luke as his chief companion, were confined primarily to the large pen we have in the backyard and the basement. Pee on concrete is easy to see and easy to clean up.
Then Stirling died. He had been on medication for a couple of years for congestive heart failure. One Sunday night several months ago, I brought Stirling and Luke in from the pen and Stirling was panting, fighting for breath like he had just run a race. I had never seen that before. I talked with Jean and we agreed that we needed to take him to the vet in the morning. By the next morning it was too late. He was cold and stiff.
Since then, Luke has become a true family dog. He lives with us upstairs. He sleeps on the couch. He is well behaved and tolerant of the kids annoyances. He hasn’t been in the pen in months. And he gets walked two or three times a day. The walking has been good for him and good for us. However ,it has presented something of a moral dilemma. I found myself quite deliberately waiting until after dark to walk Luke. The dark provided adequate cover to allow for Unauthorized Pooping Situations (UPS). An UPS is one in which Luke would vacate his bowels in the yard of a neighbor who has not explicitly granted us permission for this possibility.
After dark, I would exit the house with Luke, cross the road and walk about 1/4 mile down the road. For some reason, Luke never conducts an UPS on this side of the road. We would then cross the road back to our side of the street, and head home. This part of the walk required stealth and daring. I developed a rather complex ethic for this part of the journey. A home that was a rental property containing college students was the most desirable spot for an UPS. First of all, they don’t own the place, so they don’t care. Secondly, we homeowners that live in our houses resent the de-neighborhoodization that accompanies the commercialization of these homes into rentals. (The libertarian in me is really torn up about this).
If Luke uncooperatively fails to poop in one of these rental property yards then the next preferred type of yard in the hierarchy of preferred pooping areas is the “Dark” house. A dark house is a house in which there are no lights on both the inside and outside of the house. These houses provide enough cover that only someone with night vision goggles could say with certainty that Luke is in fact squatting as opposed to some other “humpy” looking sort of activity such as sniffing a gopher hole or licking his private parts. If Luke displays continued intransigence and all the “dark” houses have been passed, I would settle for a “semi-dark” house. A semi-dark house is one in which the yard is unlighted but there are lights on in the house. Semi-dark houses were evaluated for their pooping potential on a house by house basis. If movement or actual persons could be viewed in the house, then these houses were skirted by with a firm resolve. Luke would always conduct an UPS in one of these types of house.
Can you see a pattern here? A slinking around in the dark trying to hide your activities from view kind of pattern. This pattern tugged and then vigorously pulled at my conscience. And then Jean reported that a neighbor scolded her when Luke was conducting an UPS. Apparently it was a “dark” house but the neighbor drove up just as Luke began conducting his business.
I now do guilt-free dog walking. Luke poops in whatever yard he wants. I even sometimes leave before dark. I now carry in my pocket a disposable vinyl glove. I can see it in my minds eye. As a neighbor begins to complain of Luke’s Unauthorized Pooping, I will, through a self-righteous and indignant glare, pull the glove from my pocket, thrust and tug it onto my hand like a surgeon in the OR, reach down and pick up the semi-firm, warm poop, walk in the direction of home and toss it in the nearest bush. A flashlight is required for this procedure after dark. Now I can be self-righteous coming and going. I can play the part of both the prodigal and the older son. I can direct my indignation towards those who allow their dogs to poop in unauthorized areas, and those who accuse my dog of doing so.
I’m so proud.