It’s been a tough few weeks. The Cats have lost a few games, the Pies have won a few games, the Essendon saga has been dragging on longer than the Roman siege of Masada, the Poms are winning the cricket, the cycling, and Wimbledon, the Royals are breeding, which is frightening in itself, but it also puts them in the headlines ad nauseum and sends the noble republican cause back decades, and I’ve been trying to teach my daughter how to execute a reverse three point park; a concept that seems to elude even experienced female drivers.
On top of all that the lunatics in the Canberra asylum called an election. Since that momentous announcement the media has discovered that Abbott finds some women sexy and Rudd flicks his hair and licks his lips a lot. Meanwhile the country meanders.
To escape the monotony I decided to put the rubbish bins out. Wheely bins are extraordinarily valuable; so valuable that local councils charge each household hundreds (even thousands) of dollars each year to empty them. I think they misspell the word “rates”. It should have a “P” in it rather than a “T”. But I’m thankful that each week I can leave my bin of refuse on the nature strip so the garbage truck can arrive outside our bedroom window at 5.16am, blasting on its air breaks, before slamming into reverse (BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!), cutting the corner of the gutter, breaking the crumbling cement, and crushing the pathetic plants I’m growing on the verge. (Then six months later I will get a letter of explanation from the Council telling me my rapes have increased by the size of the Greek debt because of all the repair work required on damaged gutters in the municipality).
So there I am dragging my green plastic waste management system across the footpath when I see a woman walking towards me with her dog. The dog is more your grizzly bear sized beast than your fluffy slipper size. A she approaches me she pulls reassuringly on the lead so the beast glances up at its boss and momentarily takes its eyes off me (I bet it was picturing me as a steaming hot, freshly cooked roast chicken surrounded by colourful vegetables and crispy baked potatoes).
I push the bin onto the nature strip and wonder why both woman and dog are still next to me. Upon closer investigation I realise that the dog is dumping a week’s worth of meaty bites right next to my native hibiscus. Not wanting to be too involved in the burly dog’s chunky dump I slip past the two of them and head for the gate.
Now it seems to me that dogs have the same power these days as Her Maj. Both have humans picking up after them (in theory). I wander what my grandfather would say, were he still here, if I explained that humans now pick up dog dumps? It would as baffling to him as a text message, especially as he used to run a newsagency in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, in the 1940s just a few doors down from the Builder’s Arms Hotel. In those days the local dogs were scrawny street survivors, and their owners were much the same. The only thing that got picked up in those streets were teeth from a recent fight.
I was about to close my front gate, comfortable in the fact that the dog’s land mine would be collected by its owner, when I noticed that both owner and dog were scampering away, leaving the steaming mess of old horse flesh sitting on my verge like a tourist’s plastic replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
“OOOiiii!” I yelled after the woman, who was travelling fast enough to outdo Usain Bolt, “Come and pick up your dog crap!”
“I’ve run out of plastic bags” she yelled over her shoulder.
And there it was. SHE ran out of plastic bags, therefore I have to deal with her dog’s waste. What is the accepted behaviour here? Do I dash after her and make a big commotion about dog pooh or do I just slink inside and cop it sweet? Is there such a thing as dog pooh karma? Will an elephant dump on her verge one day? And if I did chase her might her grizzly bear take exception to my demonstration and chomp off my arm? Would it all be worth it? What would the “reasonable man” do in those circumstances?
Befuddled, baffled, bewildered I went inside without protest. Am I weak? Was my behaviour, my lack of protest, pathetic? What sort of message was the dog pooh sending to my children? I needed to do something. I needed to act. So I grabbed a piece of cardboard, a thick black texta, and scrawled a large sign for my front fence. I wrote:
“Ask not what your neighbour can do for you ask what you can do for your neighbour.”
I hope dog walker reads it.
The dog pooh is still there. The brisk winter nights have petrified it into a frozen miniature monument; a brown piece of modern art, sculptured and worked by nature’s magic that would not be out of place in Federation Square. It will not be moved! Long may dog walker see it if ever she passes this way again, well may she ponder her actions, and I hope her football team loses! (she wasn’t a Cats supporter – they don’t do those sorts of things).