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Thursday, January 22, 2009

To Scoop or Not to Scoop


Somewhere in the obscure laws of my city there is an ordinance that requires you to pick up after your dog. This means taking a plastic grocery sack or two with you whenever you walk the dog so you can bag up their fecal matter.

To do this unpleasant task, the hand is placed, claw-like into the bag. The dirty stuff is then grasped, and the arm is pulled back while inverting the bag. Lastly, the bag is tied in a knot.

I’ve seen people use a latex glove instead of a bag. I think there is too much of a likelihood you will get “it” on you while inverting the glove. And then you have to walk around carrying a knotted glove with fingers full of dog doo. If you use the bag and you meet someone on the street, then you can always say you’re carrying groceries. If you’re carrying the glove, you’re pretty much guaranteed a gross-out scene. People don’t like latex gloves when they are clean, so imagine how a turd-filled latex hand would send them over the edge.

I have broken the poop law many times. I wake up at 5:30 AM and immediately take the dog for a walk. We head down to her favorite toilet zone: a long, wide swale at the end of the block. Here she will sniff around for squirrels or anything else she thinks would be tasty, and eventually she does her business there. It’s usually dark then, and I’m barely awake. I can’t see her droppings. You can’t hold a leashed dog, a grocery bag and a flashlight, so I illegally just leave the poop, especially if the weather report calls for rain. Then it will get washed away. If it doesn’t rain, the poop will be eaten by flies or dung beetles. But if it is light out and there could be a chance that people are watching, I’ll do my best to pick it up.

I also perform what is commonly known as the fecal fake-out. You get the bag in position, and then you grab some grass right next to the poop, but not the poop itself. Then you tie up the bag and go about your business, so to speak. It’s a pretty safe bet that you won’t get caught unless someone is looking at you through binoculars.

My big complaint about picking up poop is having to carry it around with you until the walk is over. People can’t help but to notice that you’re carrying dog doo. The way I carry it is a dead give-away. I hold the bag between my pointer and thumb with pinky finger extended. At arm’s length. With a sour look on my face. Invariably during a late afternoon walk, I’ll come across a neighbor who introduces their visiting relatives or friends to me. Hello, pleased to meet you, and I’d like you to meet my dog’s rectal residue, still fresh and warm. You end up shaking hands with these people, even though moments before, the only thing between your right hand and biohazard was a thin layer of a Publix grocery bag.

I fully expect to be cited for fecal non-compliance some day. I hope that involves just paying a fine. On the other hand, a jury trial could be a lot of fun, given the subject matter. It would be worth a day in court just to observe the attorneys fondling the evidence.

“Your honor, I would like to enter into evidence this disgusting pile of putrid excrement found outside the plaintiff’s front yard on January seventh of this year,” says the prosecutor.

“Objection, your honor,” my defense attorney would argue, “the prosecutor is editorializing, and is there a date stamp on that crap?”

The prosecutor cuts in: “Your honor, if it would please the court, I—”

Again my attorney interrupts. “It sure smells fresher than January seventh, I can say that. Your honor, before the feces is tagged as evidence, the defense requests carbon dating be done on this crap so that we may establish if, in fact, that was the actual drop date. We would also like to request DNA testing to ensure that the excrement did, in fact, come from the butt of my client’s dog.”

“Sustained,” the judge agrees. “I will issue the orders.”

Later, witnesses would be called, and my attorney is a pit bull of a cross-examiner. “Mrs. Kravitz, you testified that you saw the defendant encouraging his boxer to take a dump on the swale outside the plaintiff’s home on January the seventh of this year, is that correct?”

“That is correct,” she says.

My attorney continues, “And you say the time you witnessed the crime occurring sometime between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. Is that what I’m led to believe?”

The witness nods.

“Please answer the question, Mrs. Kravitz. The court reporter cannot record a nod.”

The witness wipes the back of her hand over her sweaty forehead and says, “Yes, yes. That is what I saw. I mean, when I saw it.”

My attorney pursues it more. “And why were you outside in the early, pre-dawn hours, Mrs. Kravitz? Were you just coming in from a big night on the town?”

“Objection!” shouts the prosecutor.

“Your honor, I’ll rephrase the question. Mrs. Kravitz, what brought you out on the street so early in the morning?”

Easy question for Mrs. Kravitz to answer. “I was running—”

“You were running. I see. Now, do you run every morning so early?” the defense asks, going in for the kill.

Mrs. Kravitz replies proudly, “I have run religiously on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for the past twelve years, rain or shine.”

My attorney folds his arms. “Really? And no other days of the week? Just those days?”

“That is my schedule,” Mrs. Kravitz assures him.

My attorney opens up his briefcase and pulls out a calendar with cute pictures of dogs on it and flips it back to January. Underneath a glossy photograph of five adorable golden retriever puppies, he points to January seventh and pans the calendar across the focused eyes of the jury. “Your honor, let the record show that January seventh was a Friday. Because this witness is clearly lying, I move for an acquittal.”

The judge bangs his gavel and says, “So be it. And Mr. Prosecutor, kindly remove your stinking bag of evidence from my courtroom.”

I thank my attorney and rush from the courtroom, as I am late for my golf date with OJ.

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