Andy Warhol famously said that everyone will get their 15 minutes of fame. Well, it seems that I’ve been given mine recently and it was all about poop. Fitting, really. A lifetime of poop jokes and scatological puns has come back to bite me with this:
Yep, that’s me on Global TV’s evening news, gleefully saying poop so many times, friends have suggested basing a drinking game on it. How did this happen? On Sunday, frustrated by the horrifying quantity of poop left behind at the park by my house by one particular owner (it was the same dog – don’t ask me how I know, I just do), I took a shovel to the park and picked up as much as I could without throwing up, and that would fit in the bucket I’d brought. Then I put up a sign that my kid made, along with some bags so the offender could change their behaviour.
Unbeknownst to me, Global TV anchor, Alan Carter lives nearby and saw me. He tweeted about it, it took off, I identified myself, and the next day I was interviewed on his noontime radio call-in show, then appeared on the evening news.
In between lunch with my new friends, The Carters (Jay-Z and Beyoncé, in case you aren’t familiar – lovely couple) and lining the inside of my car with gold leaf, I’ve been thinking about the parts of this story that did not come across in the media portrayal.
First, there’s the media portrayal itself. “The medium is the message” was the first buzzphrase I learned in my 1st year as a communications student, so I was aware that how the media frames a story can affect it. I felt that the tone of the coverage, especially the radio one, leaned a bit toward “dogs are horrible” and “dog owners are irresponsible”, which I wasn’t expecting. No ill will toward Alan, though–it’s his show. I would like to state, however, that the large majority of dog owners are responsible and do pick up. As is always the case, there’s a handful of instigators ruining it for the rest of us.
Speaking of the responsible, I have to give a shout-out to dog walkers. It is too easy for people to blame walkers for any number of grievances, simply because they’re an identifiable group. But did you know that it’s the walkers who pick up so much of the poop that we mistakenly leave behind? They take it as a part of their job. They are great and brave people and I, for one, am forever indebted to them.
Since my poo story has come out (ew) and people have begun to share it on social media, it has elicited a ton of finger-pointing and accusations. First of all, if you are a dog owner, unless you’ve never once let your dog off-leash, I guarantee you’ve missed picking up after your dog at least once. I’ve stood with people in a dog park, complaining about how other owners don’t pick up, and over the complainant’s shoulder, see their dog “dropping a single” (as my walker, Kelsey, so artfully puts it). Shit very literally happens. So what are you going to do about it? This may come as a surprise, but sounding off online doesn’t get the poop picked up. I know, it’s confusing, right? Because that’s totally how the system was designed, but it must be broken or something…
On my first date with my lovely partner (hi schmoopie ❤), he picked up some litter from the road. Who is this guy trying to impress, I thought. Well, me, obviously, but the thing is, he kept doing it and years later, still does it to this day. I asked him once why he does. He told me that he once heard a Buddhist teacher asked what people could do about climate change. The teacher simply said, if you see litter on the ground, pick it up. That’s it.
And that is the quintessential message of my story that I’d like to come across. Yes, terrible things happen. Yes, people do awful things. Yes, you feel so mad about it. What can you do, though? You have two choices:
Pick one. Then get your shovel.
P.S. My dog, Sarge, featured in the news clip giving side eye, is a part of the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program, visiting patients and staff at Michael Garron Hospital. You can follow him at @sargewritlarge on instagram. Because as the scent of this story will eventually fade, his beguiling ways will endure.