Apologies for the title and subject matter of this posting. It’s just that shit has been on my mind lately. Here in our military community, dog shit is a topic that frequently comes up on Facebook. Lots of people have posted complaints about people not picking up after their dogs after Fido has dropped a deuce. I can understand why people don’t like picking up dog shit. Sometimes they aren’t prepared because they forgot to bring a bag. Sometimes they fear it will get all over their hands and they won’t have a way to clean up. Sometimes they are lazy. And sometimes the smell of poo is too offensive for them, in which case one might wonder why they’d even own a dog.
I can also understand why so many people get disgusted when dog crap is left to bake in the sun. It smells bad. It can carry diseases. If you step in it, you smell like shit for the rest of the day or until you can change your shoes. Your kids might mistake it for modeling clay and make a sculpture with it. You get the idea.
When you live in close quarters with other people, it makes good sense to clean up your dog’s crap each and every time. It’s just plain good manners. When you’re in a park somewhere and people aren’t around, maybe it’s easier to let things slide and carry on. Bill and I live near a nature park where many people leave their dogs’ gifts. But then, so do other animals like horses, deer, rabbits, and foxes. Granted, their poop is more likely to be all natural than a dog’s poop. But it’s still shit, right? You have to be careful about shitting and running, though, because sometimes it can lead to violence.
The other day, I read an astonishing story about a 32 year old woman who was walking her dog in a park in Bergisch Gladbach in North Rhine-Westphalia, a place known for being supermodel Heidi Klum’s hometown. The dog squatted down and took a dump, which the woman neglected to clean up. Another woman, aged 33, happen to see the woman attempt to shit and run. She decided to confront the negligent dog walker and demand that she clean up her dog’s mess. One thing I have noticed during my time in Germany is that if you’re doing something “wrong”, it’s very likely someone will have no qualms about pointing out the errors of your ways to you.
A shouting match ensued. The 33 year old threw her car keys at the 32 year old (she must not have stepped up to a car with a key fob yet). A man who was passing by intervened to separate the two women. Then a few minutes later, the dog walker returned with a male companion and things suddenly got very physical. Before it all ended, there were five people involved in what turned out to be a full blown fist fight. I imagine the dog walker hadn’t had this outcome in mind when she took her dog out for his routine constitutionals.
Aside from a potential 30 euro fine for shitting and running, the people involved in the brawl may also be in trouble for fighting, which resulted in pulled hair, swollen arms, and other serious injuries. When I read this story, I had to chuckle. This is a country where it’s against the law to flip off people while you’re driving. You can get a large fine for swearing at police officers.
Civility seems to be a big deal here, yet this isn’t the first time some Germans have gotten really upset over people who shit and run. A couple of months ago, people in the town of Einbeck collected 250 kilos of dog shit, bagged it up, and hung it around the neck of a statue of Till Eulenspigel, a famous German folklore jester. The statue bore a sign that read “As a dog owner, I say ‘This is shit.'”
Indeed it is…
I haven’t seen or been involved in any shit and run incidents since I moved back to Germany, but Bill did once have a nasty altercation with a former neighbor who lived near us at Fort Belvoir. She wasn’t happy with the job he did cleaning up after one of our dogs, so she followed him home in her ugly green custom van, parked it in the middle of the street, banged on the door, and ripped him a new one. In the course of her tirade, she said she wanted to shoot dog owners for leaving gifts on her lawn. She ranted about how leaving crap was a violation of regulations and threatened to call the MPs, who I am sure would have been delighted to deal with an altercation of this magnitude.
Incidentally, our dog had not crapped on her lawn, but near a curb. And Bill had cleaned up most of it, but apparently ran out of room in the bag he was carrying. But that didn’t matter to our dog crap crusader, who thought it was appropriate to threaten violence to a service member on a military installation. She’s very lucky I didn’t answer the door because I would have gladly called the MPs and asked them which offense was more serious, a stray dog turd left on a curb or someone threatening violence on a military installation? She’s also lucky Bill is a very nice guy who would never willingly yell at anyone, let alone hurt them.
Anyway, I am all for cleaning up dog shit, especially in heavily populated areas where people are walking a lot. No one wants to see it, smell it, or step in it. And you don’t want to get your ass kicked for leaving it, either.
Below is a device that I’ve been using for years. It’s very handy for handling pet waste.