I Just Pick Up Sh*t

An Expert on the 'Excrement Type' Speaks

The Lesser Pendant Dog-Poo Bag: Visible poop-in-a-bag has become a universal problem. "Why do people do this?" a country walker in the U.K. asked. The author of this piece concurs. | Credit: WikiCommons/Ceridwen

I consider myself to be an expert on shit. I am speaking about the excrement type. At an early age while not taking my afternoon nap I climbed out of my crib, removed my soiled diaper, scraped the contents into a felt cowboy hat and hid it in the bedroom closet, and then returned my diaper-less feces-smeared self to my crib. Judging by the evidence on my face my mother believed I had sampled the diaper contents as well. Always a scientist at heart I have to agree with her findings. I’m sure most of us have similar tales although most of us won’t admit to them.

I have shoveled hundreds of piles of dog poo from various backyards where I’ve resided, scrubbed human poo off procedure room walls in the days of high colonics gone awry, soaped baby diarrhea off my white Haitian cotton couch, wiped patient poo gingerly off the parts of my doctor shoes the shoe covers failed to protect during deliveries, and cleaned many a behind besides my own. This is part of being human.

Now approaching the downhill slide in my life I find that once again I am faced with a load of shit I don’t know what to do about. I am not the first complainer about this problem. The refusal of many local dog owners to remove their pet’s feces from our trails, beaches, sidewalks, and pretty much any available outdoor area is appalling and an environmental hazard. There is no excuse for this human behavior. Heal The Ocean supporters and our wonderful local veterinarians provide doggy poo bags everywhere. Why are so many Santa Barbarians so entitled that they can’t clean up their dog’s shit?

One day I witnessed a kind woman who told me she does not own a dog collecting all the doggy poo bags left by dog walkers along the Jesusita trail. Another day I watched a young woman run by me on Hendry’s beach with her dog off leash on the part where dogs are supposed to be leashed. The dog chose the area of sand directly in front of where I was sitting to take a giant crap. The woman did a U-turn, picked up the pile, and then left the stinking bag right in front of me. I stood up to vacate my fouled spot and loudly stated she had better fetch that shit bag on her return trip. She did. Right away. Why do I have to holler at people to pick up their pet’s poo?

On average, and I hike daily, I see 2 uncollected doggy poo bags and 3 plus piles of fresh dog shit on every trail and beach I visit. And yes, I know the difference between coyote poo and dog poo. I can also identify several other types of wild animal poo since I grew up in the boondocks. Like I said, I consider myself to be an expert on shit. Part of owning an animal is cleaning up its excrement. Does anybody have any bright ideas about how to educate recalcitrant local dog owners about shit collection?

When I lived in the Caribbean I picked up garbage off beautiful beaches so that sea turtles could safely nest there. The locals would say, “Hey Doc! What are you doing?” It only took one explanation to get them on board with beach clean-up. Here it’s a different story. So if you see a snarlish-looking little old lady picking up dog poo bags and muttering to herself, that’s me. I don’t own a dog. I just pick up shit.


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