Our dog Jack is a good buddy, so I completely understand why so many people own these loyal, loving pets. But when I was growing up, leashing a dog was only appropriate in crowded metropolitan areas.
In the suburbs dogs roamed freely, getting acquainted with each other and holding regular “club meetings” in the neighborhood without human intervention. As for carrying plastic bags to gather up still-warm piles of doggie poo? No one had thought of that. But times have changed.
Jerry Seinfeld described our current pick-up custom this way:
“If aliens are watching this through telescopes, they’re going to think the dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them is making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?”
But the messy job of cleaning up after dogs has evolved into big business for willing takers. A quick Google search turned up hundreds of scooping entrepreneurs: Doggie Dung Squad, Poop 911, Doody Dude, Pet Butler, Tidy Turf, Scoop De-Doo, Tour of Doody, and many more. But what if a dog owner neither wants to pick up poo nor pay someone else to do it?
One building manager in New Hampshire had a negative relationship with 300 residential dogs because of what they produced. Debbie managed 375 apartments, and because the complex was dog-friendly, she had no trouble finding renters. The bad news was more than 2000 poops each week, many of which weren’t picked up by dog owners.
Maintenance men, frustrated by un-owned piles, complained to Debbie, who had no way to know who’s poo belonged to who.
Enter a company named Poo Prints.
Using the science of DNA, Poo Prints offered to cheek-swab resident dogs, then provide kits to DNA-test errant piles. Debbie signed on and insisted lease holders bring dogs in for swabbing, then announced $100 fines per uncollected pile. The entire complex was 99% poo-free in only one month.
I sympathize with Debbie but also with dog owners, since I sometimes justify Jack’s “product placement” (in the woods) as a reason to let it be. The question is, why do many of us feel we can be the exception to a rule?
It goes back to toddlerhood when each of us operated on a me-first basis and believed what we wanted trumped what everyone else wanted. It was sin then and still is now, an awfully hard habit to shake. As a matter of fact, shaking will never eradicate it. Scripture says, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me.” (Romans 7:18a)
Once we recognize that, we become willing to ask Another for help. Romans also says, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (8:26) When we see ourselves being above the rules, it’s not an indicator of worth but of weakness. And God is happy to assist… by knocking us down a peg or two.
In Debbie’s case, a hefty fine was the exact knock-down needed.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)