Dog Poop: Life in the Fast Lane with Mitts & Plastic Baggies in East Hampton

Usually, I take my little dog out to do her thing up in the woods behind our house. I take her off her leash. I stand around. When she finishes, she trots happily back to me and we walk back into the house together. She gives herself a little shake. Then she curls up on her dog bed in the living room.

This is, a very little dog. If I go in, she goes in. If I go out, she follows. She won’t go out back there alone.

This is in one sense, contrary to what has become normal in these parts. Your dog has business to do. You carry a little plastic bag with you and pick it up. God forbid what she does should besmirch the earth. Up in the woods, of course, it’s a different matter. I’m not going to be walking around in there looking for what my dog did. How could I tell, anyway? Maybe I’d pick something up that a deer or fox did. Is that one of the rules? I don’t think so.

Late in the evening, however, it’s a different matter. I won’t walk her in the woods. I find it a little spooky being out in the woods at night when she wanders off. Once, a snake slithered right across my sneakers as I stood there. Another time I heard some creature rustling around in the underbrush. It wasn’t my dog.

So late at night, just before we all go to bed, I walk my little dog along the dock of the marina across the street from my house. There are streetlights that shine on the boats in their slips there at night. At the south end, there’s an all-purpose grass field that is town owned and used during the day as a park. I keep my dog on a leash, of course. And I carry doggie bags. Walking along, I read the names of the boats in the streetlights. My Girl II. Counter Fit. Good Times. The field at the end, however, where my dog does most of her thing late at night, is dark.

Frisbee throwers, soccer players, ball players, all gone.

Last Sunday, it rained hard all day. I took the dog out and stood under an umbrella while she went off to do her thing in the woods. When we came back to the house, my wife greeted Bella with a big white bath towel. We wrapped it around her and, offering encouragement, rubbed her dry. She’s about 15 pounds, has long white fur and a curled tail. She was unable to see for part of the time in the towel. She scuffled with her paws to get out to see. She loved this.

In the evening, the rain stopped and we went to a movie. After we came home, we watched the news. We’d completely forgotten about the dog but now, although tired, we remembered. I’ll do it, I said. It was 11 p.m.

I put Bella on her leash and walked her across the street to the boats. Then I felt a few drops. By the time I had walked her down to the darkness of the big field, it had suddenly begun to pour. I did not have my umbrella. I hoped she wouldn’t take long.

The leash I use for the walk down to the park is one of those retractable things. She can wander off 20 feet or more, so it’s a good thing for her.

At the point she got down in poop position, I was a full 20 feet away from her. She’s a bit finicky about her pooping. She doesn’t want anybody coming over to her. If you do, she stops instantly. Then she has to sniff around and find another spot, something that might take another five or 10 minutes.

I could see the headlights of the cars whizzing up the road not far away. I stood there, miserably, dripping wet. Hey, okay, let’s finish up, I told her silently, but she just stood there, statue like, and continued on.

This is really odd, I thought. A first. She has a lot in there, I guess. Or maybe she was having trouble going. I don’t know. Finish up, finish up.

I think we stood there like this for a full three minutes. At 20 feet away, in the rain and the dark, I could just make out her silhouette in that position dogs take. Rain was dripping down my cheeks and my nose.

How long could this go on? And what was she leaving there? It must be a very large mound of stuff. Well, fortunately, I have here in my pocket, uh, uh-oh, there’s nothing in my pocket. I tried the other pocket. Nothing there either.

Well, I thought, it’s pouring rain. It’s dark. I’ll just leave this for now. Nobody’s gonna be using the park at this hour. I’ll come back in the morning and get it.

Finally, she finished and trotted over. I looked off into the grass. Where had she been in there, anyway? When you look away and then look back, you can’t really locate it in the dark. It could be anywhere. Well, surely I won’t be able to miss it in the morning.

The two of us walked back up the docks and across the street, one of us trotting happily, the other trudging along miserably. My wife met us with the towel. For both of us. And then it was off to bed.

The next morning, with it still raining, I woke up, got dressed, armed myself with several, four actually, plastic Baggies and an umbrella and walked back out to the park. As I left, my wife was feeding Bella.

There was this big crowd in the park surrounding one particular area.

There were police cars and yellow crime tape roping off an area of that lawn. Someone unconscious in there? Curious, I came through the crowd to have a look.

“That’s as far as you can go,” an officer said, raising a palm of his hand as I arrived at the yellow tape. He knew me.

“Is there a story here?” I asked.

“Sure is,” he said. He motioned over his shoulder with his thumb. Behind him was a huge mound of poop, about four feet high.

“What is it?” I asked, although I knew perfectly well what it was.

I rummaged around in my pocket. The four plastic Baggies were in there, a pathetically inadequate number.

“We don’t know, but we think it came out of the back of a dog. We have some environmentalists coming. Larry Penny, too. After that the highway department is coming with a bulldozer.”

“Must have been a very big dog,” I said. Those plastic bags were my link to the crime, of course. I fingered them.

“You know, sometimes a perp will return to the scene of the crime,” the cop continued. He was staring at me.

“Yeah, sometimes they do that,” I said. “Well, I guess there’s nothing for me here.”

“You might want to call police headquarters later in the day,” the officer said. “We’re putting a team out to investigate this.”

I pushed my way back through the crowd. I should dispose of the Baggies. Walking back to the house through the marina, I tossed them, even unused, into a trash bin along the docks there.

Then I sat up straight in bed. It was the middle of the night. I was sweating and breathing hard. Out the windows, the stars were shining. My wife sat up.

“You all right?” she asked.

The dog was lying there at the foot of the bed. She opened one eye.

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