a pedestrian view of dog ownership

Taking a walk - it’s supposed to be a healthy thing to do, and I probably walk at least a mile and a half a day. I usually enjoy it, walking is good exercise, I get a chance to think and it’s relaxing. Should be a no brainer, win-win proposition. Except…well, I don’t know what it’s like anywhere else, but here in South Florida, walking can be hazardous. And frustrating. It’s not the ample sunshine, the oppressive heat or humidity that raises my blood pressure. No, actually it’s the lack of consideration that seems to be growing more pervasive every day. Let me explain.
Last week, I walked to one of my local stores and bent down to check out items on a lower shelf when I noticed this highly unpleasant smell and wondered where it could be coming from. The shop certainly looked clean and there were no foodstuffs around that could have become rancid or rotten. With a great deal of trepidation I lifted my foot and checked the bottom of my shoe. I’m sure you can guess what was stuck there. To say I was embarrassed is putting it mildly, with my tail figuratively between my legs I slunk out of the store as surreptitiously as I could.
This is not an indictment of dogs; this is a criticism of dog owners. I have been a dog lover and owner for years. I’m familiar with all the responsibilities that go with dog ownership, whether it’s regular visits to the vet, flea control or waste management, i.e. picking up after your animal. Is it pleasant? No, I can remember quite a few times I was left “holding the bag” as I greeted people as I passed. But I always considered the alternative as much worse and potentially more embarrassing for others. How many times have you run the lawn mover over the grass in your front yard without seeing what was left behind? I know it’s happened a few times to me, and it’s not easy to clean up afterward. Listen dog owners, there’s a reason why there’s usually a local ordinance against not picking up after your dog. In my city, I’m not allowed to walk my dogs in public parks - the ordinance is strictly enforced. I actually have to drive my pets to another city to be able to spend some time with them in a park. It’s the people who do not take responsibility for their pets that make life harder for the rest of us.
I can remember living in an apartment complex several years ago. Around the corner and about a block away lived a gentleman in a small house with a backyard. He also had a very large Great Dane, and he used to walk his dog over by the apartment buildings, which I remember not being happy about. One morning I found him behind my building while the dog was “doing his business”. As he was leaving, I asked him why he was walking his dog in an area where children would go out and play. He said his dog was “just exercising”. I pointed out that he had left the exercise equipment on the lawn, and that if I saw him behind the buildings again I would contact the authorities. After that day, I never saw the gentleman or his dog on the property.