In a Word . . . Dog

Scooping poop is a magnificent example of civic responsibility, but it’s not for me

 

They say that if you want to experience unconditional love, get a dog. And truly if there is one thing this pandemic has underlined, it is humanity’s devotion to the dog.

It helps of course that, unlike fellow humans, dogs remain Covid ,free and whereas other people can represent a serious threat to your health, even life, that does not apply to a dog. Quite the opposite. Experts say a dog is good for your emotional and mental wellbeing. Physical health, too, as it takes you for walks whether you want it or not.

But, is it all going too far? Let me be clear: some of my best friends have been dogs. I was raised happily with dogs, and I don’t just mean my brothers. But I still wince as I see otherwise normal people out for a walk with their dog, suddenly stop as it does its business, take a plastic bag from a pocket, stoop low and scoop up that warm poo, seal it in the bag and carry it along like the latest fashion accessory to an appropriate bin.

Yes, it is truly a magnificent example of civic responsibility and must be done, but I don’t know if I could do it. Just the other day I saw a frail elderly woman follow her dog as it investigated an expansive grassy knoll to find an appropriate spot to gift with its poo. Once done, the woman achingly stooped to scoop it, and then fretted as she looked around for a bin.

Up to then I associated the words “grassy knoll” with a spot in Dallas near where JFK was assassinated in 1963. Not any more.

Even the most unlikely people stoop to scoop. There was this Incredible Hulk one day, muscle bursting through ill-fitting jacket and jeans, with blue tattoos across all his visible skin. Yet he too stooped to scoop up the droppings of his English bulldog, and as tenderly as the elderly woman stumbling in the footsteps of her wire-haired terrier.

Yes, I’m with Meat Loaf, if I may paraphrase. I’d do anything for dogs but I won’t do that.

Dog, from Old English docga. Or, as James Joyce argued, God spelled backwards.

inaword@irishtimes.com

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