Much ado about doo-doo

Whenever someone greets me with full-on eye contact, big smile on face, pen in one hand, clipboard in the other, I go on full alert.

It’s the clipboard that clinches it – I know I’m about to get asked to sign a petition.

So what’s the problem with signing a petition? Well, in my case, it’s that I can’t stand dealing with politics of any sort. That’s due to the sad fact our political system serves no one’s interests but the politicians’. Me pay attention to politics? Thanks, but I’d rather drink a bucket of warm spit.

Plus, odds are I don’t care about the petitioner’s cause … even though it’s near and dear to their heart.

So last week when I was in Barb Curtis’s store and Cris Winters walked in, big smile on her face, pen in one hand, clipboard in the other, my bowels filled with ice water.

“Hi,” she said, looking me in my good eye, “Just the guy I’m looking for.”

“All your life?” I said.

Intent on business at hand, she ignored my quip and cut to the chase.

She was looking for peeps to sign a petition, which I’d already deduced. What I hadn’t deduced — and couldn’t have — was what it was about, namely dog poop.

Her “crusade” is eminently justifiable: She wants the village to enforce the dog poop clean-up statute (though I hope on the books it’s stated in loftier and more legalese-sounding terms).

She was also drumming up people to attend the next village board meeting, where she’d present her petition. She’s labeled the people who support her as The Poop Posse, and she’s labeled herself The Sheriff thereof.

Of course, I signed the petition.

Come on, is there anyone who wants dog crap on the streets and sidewalks? Plus, let’s admit it – hers is a noble cause.

Sadly, it’s also a lost one.

I wish it wasn’t so. The fact is, while most dog owners clean up after their mutts, there are enough irresponsible ones to put My Home Town in the running for Dog Crap Capital of Northern New York. Especially egregious is our River Walk.

Early in the century, our town fathers contacted Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm in New York City. If his name is familiar, it should be. He was one of the foremost architects of his day, the man who designed Central Park, Prospect Park and Fenway Park. In 1908, the village asked his firm to come here and suggest ways to beautify Saranac Lake. By then, FLO had popped his clogs, but one of his architects arrived and, in what should be to no one’s surprise, found Saranac Lake a lovely town. That said, if that architect or FLO himself could see the River Walk today, they’d be rolling over in their graves … and barfing in them as well.

I think River Walk should be renamed. Since it’s covered in dog crap, almost no one actually walks on it (except of course those fine citizens who don’t clean up after their curs), so “River Walk” is actually a misnomer. I think, both in terms of truth in labeling and adding a European flair, it should instead be called Ganzscheiss Platz.

Tell me why

So now the 64 Dollar Question: why don’t people clean up after their dogs?

It’s not due to ignorance. Everyone knows you’re supposed to do it. Besides that, there are dog poop bag dispensers all around town – including one at the beginning and end of the River Walk.

It’s also not a matter of education. Some of the worst offenders I personally know of are college graduates, including PhDs.

Community commitment? Guess again, since some members of local service organizations, who pay close attention to all sorts of charities and fund drives, pay no attention to Bowser’s BMs.

Maybe young people are more irresponsible than older ones? I don’t know, but I do know a bunch of the scofflaws are old enough to know better, and some of the most scrupulous cleaner-uppers are youngsters.

There’s only one reason people refuse to be responsible for their dogs, and that’s because they don’t give a figurative crap about the literal stuff. They just don’t care. If you just ruined your Bruno Magli’s due to the previous day’s Purina-fest, those folks don’t give even half a tiddly-doo.

And now another 64-Dollar Question: If they know cleaning up is the right thing to do, but won’t do it, how can they be made to? They sure won’t do it on their own, any more than people will just stop texting while driving — a “game” with a lot higher stakes.

I reckon that’s what Cris wanted the village board to figure out.

Solutions to the solids?

I’ve no idea what exactly transpired at that meeting. I assume the board listened politely, nodded in agreement, harumphed a bit, and said they’d put the issue under consideration, which they probably will. But I doubt any noticeable improvement will follow.

Sure, if Saranac Lake’s Finest was tasked with busting the offenders and then they fined them heavily, say, a hundred bucks the first time, a thousand the second, I’m sure dog crap would disappear from downtown hasto pronto. But that won’t happen. I mean, get real: We currently don’t enforce the state law mandating pedestrian right-of-way in crosswalks — an issue of literal life and death. So ya think dog crap rates a higher priority? If ya do, I’d like to talk to you about a great real estate deal on ocean front property in Arizona.

Maybe there are other options. Maybe the board could deputize Sheriff Chris and her posse, give ’em badges. and they could make citizen’s arrests.

Or if not that, maybe Cris could go full-blown vigilante and she and her crew could take the law into their own hands. But there’d be two major problems if they did. One is the name — Poop Posse. Too cutesy, if not downright adorable. They’d need a name that means business, that draws the line between the perps and thems what pursue ’em. I just happen to have one — Turd Busters. No badges, but maybe they could wear a brown ribbon as a recognition sign.

The second problem is THE problem with vigilantism: Some guy doesn’t clean up after his dog and the next thing you know he’s strung up on the nearest telephone pole, twisting in the wind, a graphic object lesson for our schoolchildren.

As someone who has three dogs and who cleans up after them, all the time and every time, I’d love to see everyone else do the same.

But until they do, the only advice I can give is this: Watch your step!


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