Dog Poop Etiquette

Bev Hosford  |   Monday Jun. 1st, 2015

It was a beautiful day at Cooper Park. I was having a blast with my dogs, enjoying the spring trees in bloom when a stern voice suddenly interrupted my euphoric state, “Your dog just pooped.” I was in my own world and awkwardly replied, “Huh?”. She stated the obvious once again, “Your dog pooped!  And it smells!”  I thought to myself, “Well yeah, it’s poop”. The only thing that really stunk was her attitude. She must have sized me up as a baseball catcher, expecting me to have the poop bag under my dogs butt ready to catch it. She promptly shoved an empty poop bag into my hand.

I always get around to picking up my dogs poop and gladly scoop lost droppings from other dogs as well. This woman took great pride in being the poop patrol that day. If I had known then about the new Bozeman Trail Ambassador Program, I would have written her a letter of recommendation and gently suggested she work on her tone of voice. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. I’ve had others deliver the same message to me at a dog park in a much nicer way.  

I picked up the pile and walked over to the trash can. If I had a tail, it would have been between my legs. As I returned to the scene of the crime, the woman had the audacity to continue on with her show. “Ew, that smells. Stinky.” I took some deep breaths and re-located my dogs to the other side of the park. I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. Cooper Park is nicknamed “Pooper Park” after all. I guess she didn’t get the memo.   

I get it, really I do. There are dog owners who don’t ever scoop their dog poop and perhaps this woman had been a witness one too many times. That didn’t excuse her attitude and tone of voice. It’s not what happens in life that matters, but how you react to it. If poop not picked up was her worst problem that day, then her life must be pretty good! Rather than get upset about unpicked-up poop, I’d like to propose another way to think about the situation…

Poop Karma

I bet you didn’t know there was such a thing! I’d like to think this goes both ways. If you don’t pick up dog poop ever, the karma will get you. If you’ve lost track of the poop once in a while, then you’ll make up for it some other time. If you’re one of the good citizens who pick up extra poop every time you’re out and about, then there is surely some reward coming your way, right? Sometimes, I come off a hiking trail with 5 bags of dog poop, and other times I space out and miss a pooping incident like I did that day in Cooper Park. I’m only human. Can you blame me for enjoying the scenery instead of keeping a hawk’s eye on my dog’s rear end? I like to think that at the end of the day it all balances out.

The underlying message here is, RELAX. The dog owners in this town are doing the best we can.  We make mistakes sometimes. Dog owners are amongst some of the friendliest people I’ve met in Bozeman. They say hi to one another on trails, gather in groups at dog parks to chat, and represent the small-town feel that Bozeman is known for. Being able to visit Cooper Park with my girls, let them run around, and make new friends is a great blessing in my life. I’m very grateful that Bozeman has a beautiful dog-friendly park, I’ve been to others that are dusty, fenced-in, claustrophobic spaces.     

It is important that we pick up dog poop around town and on the trails surrounding this beautiful place. I’m thankful each and every day that I can bring my dogs to so many scenic places without having them tied up. Let’s keep it that way and all do our part to pick up the poop!

Thank you, Bozeman - for being the most livable city! Let’s keep it that way by scooping the poop and treating each other with kind, calm voices.    

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