Having a new cottage dog means revisiting an old cottage dog problem, the scientific name of which is “dog poop.”
A little primer for the non-dog-initiated – both of you: In the city, the dog owner, say that it’s me, carries small specially manufactured plastic bags, some colourful and scented, so as to remove any reminder of the actual colour and scent of the material the dog has produced. Within seconds of the poopery, I plunge my fist into a bag, pulling the edges past my wrist to prevent contact with Spot’s (not her real name) call of nature (I admit that twice I have caught dog poo with my bare hands before it hit the floor – once in a posh hotel way back in the days when hotels didn’t ordinarily allow dogs and another time in an airport. The hotel I can explain, the airport I cannot).
In happier memories, what follows is a quick clawing at the feces, which with some dogs comes in a few scoops. Our new cottage dog, however, is a scavenger. This means her poop comes out like an exploding platter of stringy cheddar-webbed taco chips, a consistency that can lead to a boomerang effect that needs no further description.
A tight knot around the bag’s neck, a toss into the garbage can, and doggy doodoo is spirited away by a garbage truck soon after.
The problem is the garbage truck. Cottage country does not have one.
We could chauffeur the poo 45 minutes to the dump, but if picking up dog feces feels a little unseemly, giving it a road trip in air-conditioned comfort is taking things a step too far. Besides, it’s summer and we’re by a lake. We’re not leaving the dock to give the dog poo a field trip.
So why not let nature do as it has done for countless millennia and let the dog do its business in the bush and be done with it? Here’s why not.
The same lack of infrastructure that renders cottage country garbage-truckless also renders it water-system-less, so cottagers often draw their water directly from the lake. In our case, the lake is also the only water supply for everyone within 4 miles of us –about 150 households in total (I am not pausing to fact-check this).
There is some scientific rule about bodily waste being deposited anywhere near a water supply. It goes something like this: A thimble-full of sheep manure deposited uphill and within 300 metres of a water intake pipe can effectively poison the entire supply. Behold the powers of e-coli! And if one sheep can do that, what fearsome evil powers reside in my dog’s cheese-and-taco-platter poops?
So cottage dog’s poo placement cannot be trusted to cottage dog. She must be walked to some non-water-egressing hollow in the forest and encouraged to lay her load appropriately.
Which she did not. Out of a whole forest of choices, she plopped in a blueberry patch, forcing me to participate in another humiliation – playing golf with dog poo, flinging it with a stick into the nearest juniper bush. I do all this knowing very well there are dozens of other canines in the forest – wolves, coyotes and foxes – that do not observe the 300-meter rule.
And that’s the second day from the lake, where the loons are calling, but no one knows who, and we haven’t sold the place yet.