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The Messiest, Most Miserable Walk Ever

Poop bag mishaps
By Julia Lane, September 2011, Updated June 2021

I was prepared. I had stuffed two poop bags in my pocket. You’d think that the magic number was two because I was walking two dogs, Shelby and Ginger Peach. But you know what they say when one assumes …

After years of observing my dogs’ on-leash habits in the wilds of semi-rural suburbia (yes, there are cows, goats and chickens along our route, but there’s also a Starbucks “in town”), I’d bet my life on Shelby pooping twice and GP marking every grass blade before pooping in public. Two large bags would be plenty, even if Shelby went for a triple.

Within the first quarter mile, both girls had taken care of business, or as my husband and I call it “Number three.” (Dog lovers will know how to do the math.) Not only was this a speed record, but it made me a little anxious. Shelby was guaranteed to repeat, and here I was bagless. At least she created neat piles of small, round pellets, like a giant rabbit. They’re easy to pick up, even with the tail end of a pre-used bag. When it comes to poop pick up, I’m MacGyver, I can make two leaves work!

Not this time.


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Halfway through our walk, GP squatted again, and the soft serve consistency was such that no dog owner would even think of scooping. I mean, the idea was truly laughable! We could just continue on our merry way. It was then that I noticed a pick-up truck idling near us, no doubt the homeowner angrily observing my dog’s lovely decoration on his beautiful green lawn. I had to at least try to pick it up.

First I sprinkled some leaves over the top, then stretching the least full bag out as best I could, placed it over the pile. While I did my best to grab whatever I could without getting anything on my hands, Shelby and GP excitedly wagged their tails at the truck driver. After what seemed like hours, I had bagged barely anything and mostly managed to coat my fingers in brown goo, which I felt the ridiculous need to wave at the homeowner as we made our hasty exit.

Once we were out of sight of any people, I maniacally brushed my hands against the grass, in a futile attempt to clean them. Instead, I managed to get some poop on the leashes as I transferred them from one hand to the other. The dogs sniffed this with interest. (Did they actually understand the four-letter expletive I muttered, indicating it to me like their ball?) I gestured for them to keep moving forward, and accidentally dabbed the top of Shelby’s head in the process.

Normally, our route is quiet on weekday afternoons, but we passed by several neighbors who seemed eager for me to stop and chit chat. I did my best not to fling poop at them as we rushed by, hoping my brown hands were camouflaged by my brown dogs and their brown leather leashes.

Finally, we made it home without further incident. I thought the worst was over, till my husband pointed out that I had what appeared to be something brown in my hair.


Photo courtesy the author

Julia Lane owns Spot On K9 Sports, a training facility in the Chicago area, and offers online dog-sport coaching. She is the author of several travel books, and her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers and elsewhere.