There is an odd phenomenon occurring daily on a trail near you. After you indulge me for the next 5 minutes, it will leap out at you from below a bush, tucked under a rock or even perched atop a fencepost. The poop bag phenomenon has me perplexed. Astounded actually. I have analyzed it from every possible angle and have come to the conclusion you’ll read at the end.
It is generally agreed upon that everyone hates dog poop. When you’re out enjoying nature and you see five piles of dog poop beside the trail, it bugs you, it angers you, it grosses you out. If a person is going to take their dog for a walk and the dog poops, it is proper etiquette for the person to bag it up and take it to the trash, therefore erasing all evidence of the aforementioned dog. It is a courtesy to other walkers and according to many, a courtesy to the environment.
But, the poop bag phenomenon occurs in a different manner than the above described. I’ve never participated, but have only observed, so I can speak solely from my position of assumption maker.
I think we can all agree that walk preparation begins innocently enough. The thoughtful dog owner brings with him/her a grocery bag, newspaper bag, produce bag or the like, when leaving for a walk. Said bag is always plastic. The bag is pocketed, or in some cases tied to the dog’s collar, in the event it is needed to “Keep Our Trails Clean!” In my personal opinion, if the dog is going to poop by the trail, he SHOULD carry the bag. It’s his responsibility to participate in the solution to the problem, right? You don’t need that plastic bag all hot and sweaty and wadded up in your pocket, correct?
It’s when the dog actually poops that the phenomenon occurs. The owner stands aside, either smiling proudly at the pup, “Good Boy! The walk worked! You’re going potty! Ooooohhh, no more constipation for you, sweetie pie!” or, turns away pretending to enjoy the view and acts as if nothing is going on, so as to give the dog its constitutionally given right to privacy.
Then, the dog lover prepares the plastic bag, glove-like over the naked hand, picks up the poop, ties the bag into a knot using tea-cup fingertips to carefully avoid any traces of poop smeared on the edge of the bag…
…and here goes…
…SETS IT BACK DOWN! Right next to the other four un-bagged previously pooped piles.
Why on earth would the owner do that?
The following are my assumptions:
1. Said owner plans to retrace his/her route and retrieve the poop bag.
2. Said owner forgets to return for the poop bag.
3. Said owner thinks, “I just started my walk, and I won’t even be coming back this way! I don’t want to walk back to the car and leave it by the door so I’ll remember to take it to the trash…I guess I’ll just leave it here and maybe someone will be kind enough to take it out on their way. It IS in a bag, you know, so it should be SIMPLE for someone to do that!”
Next, I want to point out a few facts:
A. Plastic bags biodegrade in 20-1000 years, according to conflicting information on Google. In 20 years, the poop will be a white rock. In 1000 years, it will be a fossil that some archeologist will discover, wondering, “what was this 1000 year old artifact encased in that preserved it so well?.”
B. Un-bagged dog poop takes 6 months to a year to decompose.
Now for my conclusion:
If you’re not going to take it with you, don’t bag it. But, by all means, don’t just leave it there either. Grab a stick and flick it way off the trail into some bushes, hopefully in large chunks because when it breaks into smaller pieces, it becomes much more challenging to flick.
I can already hear the dog poop fanatics though…DON’T EVER LEAVE YOUR DOG POOP BEHIND! It will just contaminate the water source downstream!!! Well, I don’t disagree with you there, but hear me out. If you are the person who doesn’t transport your dog’s poop to the nearest trashcan, don’t be the person who just leaves it on the edge of the trail to stink, to ruin the day of the person who steps in it and to contaminate the water supply!
Be at least kind enough to flick away the smell and save the shoes of your fellow walker, even if you still need to contaminate the water supply. Your dog’s poop will turn into compost much faster out of a plastic bag than in one.
– The Goat Cheese Lady