The good folks at aPaws (Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists) were kind enough to declare the first week of April, International Pooper Scooper Week. The goal is to remind pet owners of the importance of proper waste control. Visiting aPaws’ Web site will get you a slew of possible, and proper, disposal scenarios. For those of you who decide picking up pet poop is not your thing, aPaws keeps an updated list of pooper scoopers in your area.
The Pet Butler scooping service is a national chain operating in most major cities. With the company motto of “We’re No. 1 in the No. 2 business,” Pet Butler has a fleet of nicely decorated “poop mobiles” driven by neatly uniformed crews of scoopers, all of whom are bonded and insured (including workers’ compensation – not too hard to imagine there might be some doggone risks involved!)
Pet Butler is a rather conservative name, actually, among the “piles” of poop-scooping businesses advertising all over the country. It’s What We Doo, and We Do Doo Doo are fairly clever and to-the-point while there are several that play on the word “duty” as in, Yard Doody, On Doody, Call Of Doody and Doody Bound. Alliteration, always a clever tactic, is used by Safe Step, Tidy Turf, Pet Peeve and Pile Patrol. My all-time fave, however, is a small operation based in Kingsburg, Calif., called simply, Scooperman
Prices for such sophisticated scooping seem to run about the same among the most popular companies. It’ll cost about $50 a month for once-a-week pick-up after one dog, and of course, having a passel of pooches gets you a nice price break. Five-times-a-week pick-up for five dogs runs about $200 a month. Seems fair.
Paying for poop scoopage not in your budget? Fear not, for there are a variety of ways to get rid of those detestable droppings on your own. For apartment and condo dwellers who have to walk their dogs, plastic bags are a must. Simply fit the bag over your hand, pick up the “package,” turn the bag inside out, tie it off and drop it in a trash receptacle. (Just be sure the size of the plastic bag matches the size of your dog, if you know what I mean!)
Those new-fangled indoor dog potties have even made it possible to stay in and skip the walk entirely. Touted as the Cadillac of dog potties, the Patio Potty goes for $219 and includes a decorative backwall (to prevent “spillovers”), a base tray, a white picket fence and a fire hydrant. The Condo Dog Potty, from Pet Classics, goes for $129. Though it doesn’t have the attractive backwall or fire hydrant, it does come with 7 Mini Pee Pads and gloves. (It doesn’t say whether the gloves are for man or beast.)
For those of us with yards, plastic bags are also handy and are available in biodegradable varieties, though scooping still seems to be the method of choice. I, myself, prefer the claw and dustpan two-piece scoop, while my husband prefers a regular old garden shovel – maybe because I like to scoop daily while he prefers to scoop about every four weeks.
OK, so you’ve gathered up this little poop prize in the scoop (or shovel) and face that age-old problem of where best to dispose of the goods. Garbage bags are common, but not so good for the landfill. Burning seems repugnant, and probably illegal. Throwing it over the fence would just irritate the neighbors. You could always flush it, which is actually the best method, according to the EPA. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something disturbing about the idea of carrying that stuff through the back door, across the kitchen, down the hall past our sleeping quarters, and into the family bathroom. Ugh.
In-ground disposal systems, like the Doggie Dooley, have been around for years. The idea is to dig a deep hole, in an inconspicuous part of the yard, cover it with a special lid easily opened with the touch of one foot, drop the droppings in, chase ’em with a slosh of water and some “digester powder.” Voila – back to nature! Just a couple of problems with that. You have to factor in the absorbency of the soil in your backyard as well as the number and size of the dog or dogs who will be donating to the device (though Doggie Dooley Model 3800 is touted as having a two large or four small dog capacity). And of course, you must be realistic about how much “product” you can dump in there at any one time. How much is too much? Four weeks’ worth, for sure.
But, the ultimate, easiest, and weirdest way to get rid of your pet’s leftovers is to simply teach your dog to use the toilet. Sincerely. I read it on eHow.com. It goes something like this:
Step 1: Pick a word or phrase you always will use to mean, “do your thing, Baxter!”
Step 2: Using a shallow tub and a leash, encourage Baxter to “do his thing” NEAR the tub, then finally, IN the tub.
Step 3: Place the tub near a toilet. When Baxter can go in the tub without “flinching” (their word, I swear!), slowly raise the tub toilet high.
Step 4: Place the tub on top of the toilet for Baxter to use for a couple of days. Then one day, remove the tub and he will begin to perch on the seat and do his business.
Oh, and the instructions ended with this warning: IF DOG IS TOO SMALL TO BRACE HIMSELF ON RIM OF TOILET SEAT, THIS TRAINING EXERCISE IS NOT FOR YOU. (Or him, either, I would think!)
Peck is a local mother and grandmother who works in Enid Public Schools. She can be reached at email@example.com.