The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Where has all the dog shit gone?

By Antonios Maltezos

I was always stepping in it as a kid. Seems if I wasn’t stepping in it, someone I knew was stepping in it, or someone I knew was telling me to watch out for the dog shit so I wouldn’t step in it. It’s just the way it was. You couldn’t go down to the corner store for an orange popsicle without having to detour around at least one steaming pile. I remember we had to walk to school with our heads down, and if you spotted it first, warning your buddies was the thing to do. We looked out for each other, because no one wanted to step in it. You didn’t want to have to dangle your foot in the air looking for some plush grass so you could do the angry bull, leave a huge skid mark across someone’s lawn… which the next heavy rain would take care of -- thank you very much -- no need to come out of your house. It’s just the way it was. Mowing the lawn meant stopping every third or fourth row so you could kick the turds into your neighbor’s yard. And we knew when it was okay to kick. Too dry, and the turds exploded on contact with your foot. It’s just the way it was. And we didn’t mess with the dogs back then, either, because chances were, the next time you met up with the dog you’d teased, he’d be loose, escaped, roaming the streets crapping wherever he wanted to crap. Dogs were freer then. If you saw one of those Beware of Dog signs, you knew for sure there was a freaking monster on the other side of the fence. Hey, and if you got bit, it was because you got too close. Too bad, so sad. Everyone knew dogs liked to bite. It’s just the way it was. You’d know, too, the next time. Today, people put up a Beware sign even when there isn’t a dog. Times have changed, but I wouldn’t blame the dogs. It was the people who were different. I remember we had a not-too-bright mutt named Chico. He liked to chew the tops off the fence boards so we’d always have problems with the neighbors. Plus my bike was stolen from right under his nose. He was asleep; I’m sure, because he was normally a big nuisance barker. He’d bark at anything. His barking was so bad the neighbor shot him in the side with what must have been a pretty powerful pellet gun to pierce the skin. Took us three days to figure out something was wrong. Except when we rubbed his side, he was so quiet. Anyway, we accused, and they denied, until they couldn’t deny anymore and they had to move out of the neighborhood. Someone would have been arrested had that happened today, when people are taking animal rights so seriously. We don’t chain our dogs to plywood boxes anymore, which seemed so regular when I was a kid. You banged some nails into some scrap wood, affixed the anchor bracket for the chain, and called it a house. After a few years of this kind of life, most dogs went postal, biting even the hand that opened the can of Dr. Ballards, so their meals had to be tossed like Frisbees. Eventually, the family dog became a neglected animal, and your dad had to drive him to the you-know-what because he was the only one who could still control the beast. Chico, you bastard!

All our shoes had big heels then, if you remember. I had a pair of Pepsi shoes when I was eight. They had a red tip where the steel toe usually goes, a white background, and blue at the ankles. The tip was bulbous, and that was embarrassing, but the worst was the three inch heels made of wood. Wtf? You didn’t want to inadvertently step in dog shit while wearing those shoes. The crap would get stuck right where the heel meets the arch, and you’d have to find the perfect angle that would fit right up in there and scrape it out. The edge of a curb.

So where has all of the dog shit gone? Why, inside, of course, along with the pooches. Poor bastards. They were freer when I was a kid, that’s true, and I do want to lament their suffering, their further domestication (not to mention the fact that dogs, in general, have gotten smaller, if you’ve noticed. makes sense. It’s the whole fish in the aquarium thing.), but I’m also enjoying the cleaner sidewalks. Took my youngest to the park the other day, and besides the dump she took standing by the swings (she’s still in diapers. almost done now. any day now.); we saw no poop to speak of. Seems the masters are bagging it, and taking it back home with them. Jeez. We’ve come a long way. When I was a kid, we’d give ole Rex some privacy; turn away while he was doing his business. None of that crinkling plastic to spaz the dog out. And we’d never have thought to pick it up… you kidding me? We’d step in it, on occasion, by mistake, but we’d never pick it up, and we’d certainly never bring it home. But times were different back then. Dogs were dogs, and people were people. That’s just the way it was.


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

What a hoot! Thanks for the memories.

Thu May 24, 01:05:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

You're right, Tony.

My first dog was the bane of the SPCA's existence; we let him roam free, and I'm sure there was some prize at SPCA headquarters to catch that mutt. They never did; my wily ol' pal. The idea of having him now, kept nicely on a leash with scheduled and well-attended runs in the dog park, then put back onto the leash... Well, that's just some other dog.

Thu May 24, 10:37:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Tony: farts, Amercian Idol, dog poop... what's next? I can't wait.
You are becoming the Andy Rooney of the potty.

I have no fond memories of dog poop, but I remember many times being the second home for a neighbour's dog. Minuche (spelling?), for example, who was a french dog and lived down the street. He'd come to our house for a second breakfast, lunch and supper. One time he slept over and the neighbours came by... (can we have our dog back?) And one time he bit our mailman. Then we had to stop letting him come over. I was so sad.

This used to happen a lot with other dogs- the visiting. The dogs of my childhood neighbourhoods were right neighbourly.

Thu May 24, 02:52:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Hey, thanks for reading guys, and I can tell you read through the whole piece. Thanks. I was going to change shit for poop, but it wouldn't have felt right. Poop, poop, poop, all the way down the page. Shit and fuck you can use often in a conversation, and it always slips by. It's like punctuation. Bhurp! S'cuse my French! Okay, if it doesn't bother anyone, I'll keep farting and burping in public. It's a nice change from all of the graveness and intensity of writing fiction.

Shit! I'll need a pseudonym to go with the alter ego!

Thu May 24, 03:22:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Chumplet said...

It's all on the sidewalks of Paris (France, that is...) or my back yard. Watch out!

Thu May 24, 05:09:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Ruth Taylor said...

I don't know if it's true but I have heard that in France (or was it Spain?), stepping in dog shit is considered good luck. I always thought, well it oughta be. Nothing else good about it.

Your tale brings back memories, Antonio.

Sat May 26, 04:33:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Hey, Ruth, Chumplet... getting shat on by a bird is good, I think, especially that silvery crap full of mercury you get from the pidgians. I'm not sure which I'd prefer, stepping in dog shit, or getting shat on by a pidgian.

Sat May 26, 10:12:00 pm GMT-4  

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