Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Fair warning: I am going to talk crap today. Specifically, I’m talkin’ dog crap. There’s got to be a better way to handle it.
I hiked up Housewife Hill (Smuggler) the other day. That place is desperate for a solution. I don’t know for sure because I can’t walk, talk, chew gum, and count at the same time, but I bet that there were two dozen green single-serving bags of certified pre-owned Alpo along the trail.
Now, before you get started, I assure you that I know the drill: your dog unloads and you slide on the disposable thumbless mitten, then you grab the steaming pile, turn it, tie it, and toss it on the side of the road to collect on the way down. You’re hiking with your friends to get the poop on what’s happening in town, not to carry it around in your pocket, for Pete’s sake. I don’t blame you. Nonetheless, Smuggler Road is now paved with good intentions and bags of dog crap.
There is a persistent rumor that says some people bag the stuff and then intentionally abandon it on the side of the trail forever. I don’t believe it. I mean, who would do that? People who enjoy squishing it between their fingers but don’t think there is enough litter where they recreate? No. Folks who go through the indignity of bending over to grab a freshie and bag it up while the pitying eyes of passersby watch probably intend to follow through and throw it in the trash can eventually.
What I do believe is that people honestly forget to pick up these canine chocolate kisses on their ways back to the car. It’s completely forgivable. If you are not distracted by stimulating conversation with the friends you’re hiking with, the incredible scenery, or the workout playlist on your iPod, why did you bother to suit up and get out there with your pooch in the first place? So, let’s forget the debate about irresponsible dog owners bagging the stuff up and purposefully leaving it out there for posterity just because.
Ironically, the total scofflaws are not the problem. They let their dogs roam off into the woods to do their thing and leave it there to biodegrade. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t like it when my neighbors let their dogs roam free to soil my front yard where the kids play, but if a dog craps in the woods and nobody will ever see it, do I make any noise? No. The worst are people looking the other way when their pet lays one down in the middle of the path. Those will eventually biodegrade too, but most likely in somebody’s shoe treads and the floor mats of their car.
The bottom line is that despite our current efforts there remains a veritable log jam of unclaimed deposits around town. We have a lot of dogs here. Dogs defecate. We have to take care of it. The free dark green plastic bags printed with a crime scene white outline of a hand on them are not the solution.
If you think about it, it really doesn’t matter if you leave those baggies full of poop on the side of the trail or throw them in a trash can. That’s only the difference of deciding where you are going to preserve a turd for the next ten-thousand years while its protective plastic covering slowly dissolves. If you choose the landfill over Smuggler Road, it just becomes a scenario of out of sight, out of mind. It still exists somewhere for future archeologists to dig up. I’m guessing they would rather find mastodon tusks. I doubt there will be much marketing buzz around renaming our towns “Poomass” or “Crapspen” in the future when they uncover our buried artifacts, perfectly preserved.
What I’m getting at is rethinking our solutions to this problem and reallocating our resources towards really solving it. Putting up doo-doo bag dispensers doesn’t work. Paying rangers to educate and write warning tickets to those who poo-poo the law is ineffective. Remember, it only takes one wayward turd to ruin a good pair of shoes and an evening of dancing.
Of all the fantastic services The City provides for us, wouldn’t one of the nicest be to create a patrol that travels around town picking up poop? I’m talking fecal responsibility here! I’m talkin’ no pile left behind. They could collect it and dispose of it en mass in an environmentally responsible way. Maybe we could turn it into fuel for the mall fire pit or compost it for use it in the community garden, I don’t know. Whatever we do is better than storing it forever in individually wrapped packages. And, if we digest this idea carefully, I bet we can do it for the same cost as the current ineffective anti-smear campaign.
I know the poo patrol sounds like a totally disgusting job, but really how much different is it than the porta-potty business? It’s the difference between cleaning up outhouses at construction sites or rock concerts and cleaning up after dogs in the great outdoors. Anyway, that’s a debate for another column. The point is you could make this a job that somebody would like to do. Equip an off-road three-wheeler with some sort of long-hosed turd vacuum and provide a pair of new gloves every couple of weeks and you’d have folks lined up to take the job.
At first blush it sounds like a stupid idea. But really, wouldn’t everybody be thrilled if all the poop got scooped every day? Like everything else around here, unless we hire somebody to do it, it’s never going to get done. Relax. It’s Aspen.
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