Know your enemy. (Not for the squeamish)

If you thought you might read this post whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit I would think again. In fact, if you are planning any food related activity during or either side of reading this you might want to reconsider.

The hardest thing about this once a day writing challenge hasn’t been the writing as much as thinking of something to write about. This morning I employed a tried and tested solution and took myself off for a decent walk hoping that I might find inspiration. I wasn’t disappointed; the inspiration was everywhere, in fact I nearly trod in it on several occasions.

Of course you know what I’m talking about and whilst it isn’t a pleasant topic of conversation it does seem to be something that people love to talk about. That was certainly my experience when I worked for the Canal and River Trust. I talked to people about many things as I stood on the tow path but without a doubt, especially if people wanted a moan, dog poo and irresponsible dog owners was by far the most popular subject. It was closely followed by cyclists, which is a bit disturbing, but that will have to wait for another day.

The conversations all followed a remarkably similar pattern working their way through various levels of indignation at owners who would allow their dogs to foul the towpath but who didn’t see any requirement to clean it up through to utter bewilderment at the practice of bagging the stuff and then hanging it in a tree or bush. I generally shared their feelings but had to stand my ground when they suggested, as they inevitably did, that we at CRT, should provide more poo bins. This required the very height of my diplomatic skills in pointing out to them that if people chose to own a dog, knowing full well that that dog would produce waste material, then surely it’s their responsibility to deal with that problem not anybody else’s. Anyway, that’s not really what exercised my mind on my walk today. It was the strange minds of the negligent dog walkers.

People are always banging on about what to do about this problem. Solutions such as spraying the offending deposits with fluorescent paint (presumably to help people to avoid it and shame the culprit’s owner) to hanging, drawing and quartering those found guilty are suggestions I have come across. I don’t think you will ever resolve it though because of the minds of those responsible. Their minds simply must not work in the same way as most rational people. They must be missing some simple connections somewhere for one obvious reason. Surely, sooner or later, the laws of chance must dictate that the kind of person that leaves their dog’s poo in the middle of the pavement, must one day step in another dog’s poo. What on earth goes through their mind at this point? Do they simply shrug their shoulders and think, fair doos. I think not. I wouldn’t mind betting that they are equally disgusted and indignant just like anybody else but that’s where the missing links must be. Somehow they must not make that really obvious association that would make them think twice the next time they took their dog out. Or perhaps there is another explanation. Perhaps, after they had acquired a dog, they discovered that they had an insurmountable aversion to their dog’s dung and are now forced to walk the pavements only under the cover of darkness whilst being consumed by overwhelming guilt.  Perhaps.

The frustrating thing about this subject is that I have had endless conversations with righteous dog owners about it but I have never, ever met a dog owner who doesn’t pick up and is prepared to discuss why. Maybe if the dog patrol warden could have that discussion we might finally make some progress towards solving the problem. In the words of the 6th century Chinese General, Sun Tzu, you have to “know your enemy”. (Don’t you just love Google)

I did think carefully about it but on balance I decided there were no appropriate pictures for this post.