Sunday, 27 July 2008

Scooping the poop

While I'm delighted to be travelling with my beloved canine companion once again

(isn't she pretty?), there are certain - messy- issues which threaten the harmony of our relationship.

Let's take a moment to look at dog owners and their habits in other countries (at least, those that fall under my limited experience).

In France, lots of people own very tiny, mangy little scraps of poodles. When the French mini poodle is hauled out for its daily scamper, the question of comfort breaks doesn't even rear its indiscreet head. One's evening promenade is all about appearances, cherie, and heaven forfend little Milord or Biscuit should disgrace himself in front of the neighbours. As a consequence, you often see these poor creatures desperately trying to hunker over and do what nature intended, while Maman continues to drag them down the trottoir on the end of an extendible lead.

In Poland (at least it seems to me), people in very small flats like to own very big dogs. The principal activity of the Big Polish Dog is to stare out of the window and drool on passers-by.

In the nineteenth century, gardens were cultivated down the centre of the broader, more prestigious streets in Kraków: ul. Dietla and Aleja Słowackiego, for example. These were grassy central reservations, with shrubbery and plant life and so on. It was said that these leafy promenades were created for the health and well-being of the citizens. Actually, they provided a great space for rich Cracovian apartment-dwellers to take uh... 'dobry pies'* out to powder his nose without causing too much embarrassment.

In the UK, local authorities are not so thoughtful. Encouraging little plaques along the pathway helpfully remind you that if your dog leaves a calling card in a public place, you will be subject to A Fine of up to One Thousand Pounds. A good reason to ensure that Rover** went before he came.
In practice, you have to buy a sheaf of little scented plastic bags from the pet shop/supermarket, and watch poor old Rex very carefully whenever he gets that far away look and starts sniffing around at the side of the road.
Please bear in mind: these are special little bags with No Air Holes.

Now. My family has selective hearing when it comes to saving the planet: they do it usually (and quite sensibly) when it coincides with saving them money. For example: they put out recycling bags, because you can use them to get money off the council tax (or something); they walk up into town instead of using the car, but parking fees are a bloody nightmare anyway. And so on.

So, when the spaniel and I go out for our evening constitutional, in the interests of not owing large sums of cash to Sevenoaks District Council, I arm myself with the Tesco bag hanging in the hall (specially packed with pooper scoopers, chewy toys and other exciting goodies for an evening walk).
Not ten minutes down the road and the little mongrel starts to sniff around at the side of the footpath, in an ominous way.
Uh oh.

When all is said and done, she looks up at me proudly and tugs on the lead. Oh no. We're not moving on yet. Now I have to juggle bags and scoopers, all the while holding tightly onto the lead to prevent my kamikaze spaniel from hurling herself out into the main road at the next junction.
Finally I manage to improvise a sort of plastic-bag-over-scooper. Please note. Since - to save the environment - we don't buy extra little bags from the pet shop, this is not an easy task. In the big bag are an assortment of: 1 Virgin Megastore CD bag. A Waterstones A5-size bag. A couple of rather holey polythene vegetable bags from the supermarket. One that looks suspiciously as though it came from a National Trust gift shop. None of them particularly suitable for fitting over a plastic scooper, performing the suave 'inside-out' move and tying in a respectable granny-knot.

Having finally managed to produce a decent and reasonably secure parcel, we move on. But oh no. Our troubles are not over. In the UK, it is widely accepted that small children love nothing better than to put plastic bags over their heads and asphyxiate themselves. So all British plastic bags, no matter how small, feature Tiny Little Holes to let the air in...

* I don't know any Polish dog names...
** Names have been changed to protect identity


island1 said...

Surely you recall that all Polish dogs are called 'Hodge Two'

pinolona said...

Of course! How could I have forgotten so quickly?!
Hmm, time for some extra Polish cultural studies methinks *goes to freezer for bottle of Sobieski*...