By Ellen Snortland
Pasadena Weekly Columnist
I am throwing down a gauntlet: Someone, please invent a way to recycle and repurpose doggie doo-doo! I’m a bit pooped lately — forgive the expression — and I’ve had way too much time to mull this over, which is perhaps a “waste” of my intellect. That said, consider the megatons of bowser boom-booms that simply go into landfills. Ewww.
There are scientific innovators in the climate crisis field who are experimenting with capturing and recycling cattle gas emanations. Bovine methane could be tomorrow’s fashionable fuel. Why not? Speaking of gas, I know a couple of Boston Terriers who could power a small town with their “emissions.”
I am one of those dutiful dog parents who walk and scoop… except when I don’t. If one of our dogs poops in an inaccessible place — for example, under a bush — where no one walks, I cover it with dirt and let nature take its course. I know I’ll probably get hate mail, but hear me out. I fret about using dog poop bags, even our compostable ones, that still end up in a landfill with the contents eventually exposed.
Can’t you just hear future archaeologists? “We seem to have stepped into a culture that worships animal excrement, so much so that they sought to preserve it for the future.” Annie Archaeologist takes a whiff. “P-U! This could have been excreted yesterday. It’s so fresh! Yet the bags themselves have a perfume odor. Very odd worship indeed.”
In the meantime, I do my best to use poop bags efficiently. You may be aware of the soldiers in trenches during WWI who used one match to light three cigarettes. Snipers looked for match lights, so “three on a match” became trench etiquette. I use “three on a poop bag” so I don’t squander an entire bag on one tiny turd. Nope, I go for a full bag on our walks. If I don’t attain this goal, I bring the almost-empty home, leave it open to dry, and take it out again the next day. Am I weird? Maybe. I’m at peace with that.
Here’s a quandary I grapple with. We use compostable bags, but we also have craploads of the older, nonbiodegradable plastic bags still sitting in our cupboard. Is it more ecologically responsible to simply throw them into the recycling bin or use them up? And if the so-called “biodegradable” bags actually take 40 years to disintegrate, are they really worth using? I think it’s fascinating that the brain bandwidth I once devoted to All Things Drumpf is now occupied with All Things Dog Poop. Coincidence? I think not.
I used to know a dog who looked forward to “potty time” because, if left unsupervised, she would promptly gobble it all up! Now that’s recycling and a method that — although meritorious — is revolting. Apparently, it doesn’t hurt the dog, but geez… I hate to even think about it. I went with my friend to the pet store to see if there was any kind of over-the-counter medicine to stop coprophagia, the grown-up word for poop eating. They had one product that claimed it “makes feces taste bad!” Isn’t that redundant? It appears that some dogs don’t agree.
One of my side hustles is taking care of other people’s dogs. For my friends, I used to do that for free because I’m a dog-loving geek. However, after the economic disaster of 2008, I racked my brain for what I could do for money that also involved things I love. The answer was right in front of my face: dog care! I’ve been doing it ever since.
One of my first clients had a large poodle named Scribble who grew up in an apartment in a big European city. As such, her doggie toilet habits had to be super efficient. Scribble was a genius dog, so her parents taught her to go on demand whenever they said, “Scribble, spend your pennies!” And voilá! Scribble spent her pennies, and I quickly learned that she wouldn’t go without that command.
I wondered where such an odd phrase came from. Apparently, in the mid-1800s, when the new-fangled flush toilets were introduced, they were featured at a world’s fair where a fairgoer could try the magic commode for a penny a pop. It makes me realize how much we take our indoor toilets for granted.
Back to my gauntlet throw, and my challenge stands. No. 1: If you can imagine it, you can do it. No. 2: Well, you know, grab it and run with it. Oh, sorry… but you get what I’m driving at. Dog byproducts could truly be put to better use than bagging and tossing. Come on, people — let’s get off the pot and do this.
Ellen Snortland has written “Consider This…” for a heckuva long time, and she also coaches first-time book authors! Contact her at email@example.com.