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The Vacuum - Issue 18 - Waste spacer The Vacuum - Issue 18 - Waste
From the Bottom to my Sole
by Miriam de Burca
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Picture this: it's a bright and sunny day, you're walking along, you feel good, you take in deep breaths of fresh air, you admire the sky's cloud formations, you suddenly feel a soft squelchy sensation underfoot...
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Just minutes before, at that very spot, a man had been walking his dog. Looking at the size of the turd stuck to your shoe, his was a proportionately large dog, possibly a Rotweiler, or German Shepherd. You can tell it was deposited only minutes before because it's still 'fresh'. You do the scraping off the kerb thing to get the majority of it away. You go to the nearest bit of grass and shuffle around in it to try and get the remainder off. For the rest of the walk you feel contaminated. A leper walking the streets. You breathe in reluctantly, imagining you're inhaling the fumes from your shoe. You can't look up anymore, only down at the ground, anxious to avoid a similar encounter.
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Many of us, knowingly or otherwise, have developed a third eye that scans the pavements for such unpleasantries. Even whilst pushing the pram with one hand, and texting with the other, I still manage to watch the ground as well. But no matter how hard you try to avoid it, at some point you get the inevitable shitty-shoe treatment.
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What amazes me is the level of denial dog owners must be capable of. Master is walking along, his dog stops to shit in the middle of the pavement; he swiftly walks on pretending it's not his dog. Or if the animal is on a lead, the owner stands apart as far as he can, looking away, thus making an attempt to disown it. Doggy has done his doodoo and they walk on happily. So, does he take a different route home? Or does he make a mental note of where his canine friend made its deposit in order to step over it on their way back? My point is, how can people let their dogs defecate on the pavement without an iota of shame? And here's the ironic twist: these people with no shame are nonetheless too embarrassed to remove the dog's shit once it's been plopped. For that would draw attention to the owner and to what his dog has just done. Then the onus of responsibility would be on the owner, not the poor mutt who would much rather be roaming yonder fields anyway.
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There are three explanations as to why dog owners are reluctant to clear up their dogs' faeces. One, as mentioned above, they are embarrassed to draw attention to what has just taken place. The act of shitting is one of the social taboos in this part of the world and we don't like to admit that it happens, not even to our dogs. Two, it is considered to be 'sissy' to clear up afterwards. (Although, this dumbfounds me. I would think it takes immense courage to carry out such a task.) It seems to be exclusively a thing for old ladies and their Yorkshire Terriers. At least, on the rare occasion that I have been witness to it, they are the only people willing to take the matter in hand. Okay, 'scoop the poop' does sound a little sissy, but you could change its image by using a more macho phrase like 'shovel the shit', or call it the ambiguous 'bin the bun'. And three is resignation, probably the most prevalent of all reasons. People think to themselves, 'everyone else lets their dog shit all over the place, so there's no point in making the effort'. And we all know the answer to that one: carpe diem.
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Bottom line is, no-one likes to have the unpleasant experience of getting shit on the sole of their shoe. Be it poodle poo, terrier turd, doberman dropping, or any other such variety. So if all you dog owners out there could bring spare plastic bags on your walk, teach your dog to do the do on the roadside, put a nappy on him. Whatever it takes, just let me put my head in the clouds again!
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Picture this: One day, Belfast's pedestrians shall be able to step onto its beautifully scooped pavements without as much as a pellet of apprehension. Smell the heather.
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