Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Dog politics

There is a leafy little enclave just down the street from us, which surrounds a National Defence Medical Facility. It's a wonderful pocket in the middle of the city where dogs owners can take their hounds to sniff the trees, and each other, a place where owners greet each dog by name even though they've never bothered to ask the names of the other minders.

Places like this exist all over the Nation's Capital. It's what I love about this town. It's a people place with miles of bicycle trails and open spaces, which are paid for by the rest of the country.

On behalf of Ottawans, I thank the good people of Canada.

But there's a storm brewing down the street and it's pitting dog owners against the government. It's about the poop situation.

For the past couple of years, the military has been paying soldiers to pick up random poop all over the field. Most dog owners are responsible and do their due diligence but for some reason some people in our little community seem to have misplaced their bags. And so, our military personnel, the people who served proudly in Afganistan and risked their lives, are now being dispatched for canine latrine duty.

It has become an embarrassment.

This year, National Defence decided to fight back. It closed the park to dogs much to the chagrin of the dog owners who are mad as hell. Tough luck, says the military. You lost your privilege.

At the other end of town, there is a pitched battle between dog owners and folks with lawns and it's gotten ugly. Just this week, a street full of residents received flyers warning them to keep their pooches off the manicured neighborhood lawns.

Otherwise, warned the flyer, there will be consequences. In a disturbing turn, each flyer contained a hand scrawled personal note with one word.


Since the pamphleteer struck, there have been weiner sightings, both real and imagined, all over the place. Police were called. The residents believed the hot dogs contained more than the usual nitrates used to kill humans and worried their dogs -- and children -- might be duped into ingesting poison.

At the local dog park, there is not nearly as much drama. The dogs run free and the owners pick up their poo and the droppings of others. The only controversy at our dog park is whether the city will agree to replace a container that had been placed at the half-way mark to save owners walking with smelly bags for half an hour. (It won't.)

The off-leash parks seem to solve the dog versus lawn issue. Alas, these parks are being threatened by greedy governments who would rather see little boxes full of ticky-tacky spring up and destroy our beloved green space.

Ottawa has several parks like these, away from the madding crowd, where dogs can be free and are safe from the prying eyes and mischief of angry people with lawns. Some people have been driven there by their neighbors, others come freely to watch the dogs frolic and pant and drool. There are even a couple of elderly ladies who come without dogs and bags full of treats.

We know our days may be numbered and that one day this place might become a subdivision with angry lawn owners. But until it does, we will respect the code of the dog owner and pick up the poo.

If you ask me, the main point is lost on people. Dog politics should not be about people and their properties. It's about the value we place on our dogs. We care for them, we feed them, we love them, but we risk losing their freedom because we are too lazy to pick up after them.

People who go to dog parks understand this.

The message should be clear. If your pit bull bites somebody, it loses its life. If your dog poops on the neighbor lawn, it might also lose its life, though I think mass extermination of hounds is highly doubtful.

The important point is the poop villains spoil the delight of dog ownership for the rest of us. And they put at risk the freedom that our military veterans fought for our pets to enjoy.

By not picking up the poop, we are not just disrespecting our city.

We are disrespecting our dogs.


1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic! I try to raise awareness of dog poo and the problems it can cause on my #picturesofdogdoodoo blog, Check it out and keep up the fight, although I don't agree with putting the dogs down. And I think it's funny how people didn't care until the poop came to their manicured lawns.