One of the most uncomfortable parts of owning a dog is cleaning up after it.  I think he shits out more than his body takes in.  I fill his food dish twice a day and it seems like he could fill it three or four times with what comes out of him. 

My landlord, Mark, came over to mow the lawn and didn’t like what he saw.  I seriously clean up after Kip every couple of days, but he shits everywhere.  Mark thinks I should clean up after Kip every time he goes out.  I just don’t have that kind of time.  Besides that, the stuff is pretty soft when it is still steaming—it’s better to let it cool off for a little while before picking it up, if you have the option.

Mark told me that if this continues to be a problem I will have to get rid of the dog.  That’s fucked up, I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve got a guy telling me he’s going to take my dog away if I don’t pick up after it.  Seriously, am I doing something wrong in my life?  Shouldn’t I be past that point?  Having somebody make me get rid of my dog because it shit in my yard would be one of the most embarrassing things I could ever imagine.

The stuff stinks.  In order to pick it up you’ve got to get close to it.  I bought this picker-upper, with an extended handle, but it broke the second time I used it.

Walks are the worst.  I usually shove a plastic bag in my back pocket before I head out.  The plastic bags you get at the grocery store seem to work pretty well.

“Why in the world are you touching that?” Kip’s eyes seem to say, as I place the inside-out bag over top of the steaming, squishy pile.  It’s almost inevitable that just as I start to pick up the mess, a squirrel will cross the sidewalk ahead, and Kip will jerk at the end of his chain, knocking me off balance.

Driving by, people stare with morbid curiosity.  I want to flip them off.  I feel vulnerable—like it was me that nestled into a squatting position and shit in the grass strip that divides the sidewalk from the road.

When he’s done I have to carry the bag.  I’ve found that in my neighborhood, alleyways are the best places to find garbage cans.  Along our daily walking routs I have found a variety of trusty trash cans—cans I can always count on to be out.  In my head I have a mental map of these cans, so I can quickly and easily dispose of each incident in a timely and efficient manner.

It just feels so unnatural.  Sometimes I will glance around to see if anyone is looking, and if Kip finishes before I see anybody I’ll start walking as fast as I can, turning at thenext streetcorner, or ducking into the next alley.  I ease my guilty conscience by telling myself that everyone who owns a dog must do this every now and again.

Kip is acting like he has to go, so I let him take his time and sniff out the perfect spot.  While he’s sniffing I realize that I have forgotten to bring a bag.  Bag or no, he finds a prime location and settles in for the drop—right next to a support beam holding up a car port—about ten feet from the sidewalk, just inside an alleyway.  Just as he gets that, “oh yeah, here it comes,” look on his face, a car turns the corner onto the side street we happen to be on.  Great, I think now we have an audience.  Kip finishes up just as the car comes along side of us.

I don’t have a bag, so my first reaction is to just walk away and hope the driver of the car doesn’t notice.  As we start walking, the car pulls into the alley, then into the car port.  A man steps out of the PT Cruiser, and immediately walks to the post to inspect the steaming pile.

“Hey! Hey you,” he yells.

I pretend not to notice at first.  Kip tries to turn around to bark at the inflamed man.

“Hey asshole.  Are you planning on cleaning this mess up?”

Wow, this guy is seriously pissed.  But, what am I going to do, scoop it into my hat?

“Get back here,” he barks.

I decide that it would be bad enough dealing with this guy by himself, but I’ve got a dog to worry about too.  In a more normal situation I would confront the guy and try to reason with him.

“I’ll be back to clean it up later,” I shout over my shoulder, from a block away.

“You irresponsible asshole,” he shouts, as I hurry my dog down the sidewalk.