Tuesday 23 December 2014

Dog poop - don't you just love it?

Published 05/06/2014 | 02:30

Innocent party: Name and shame the owners
Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer

There really is nothing like it, is there? You find yourself out for a walk, merrily minding your own business and there it is – that sinking feeling, literally, as your foot treads on a big lump of dog poop.

First, there's the gross sensation of squishing into it. Then there's the second wave of nastiness, the smell that rises up to assail your nostrils as you stand on the pavement, grumbling and muttering as you try to use a leaf or some other woefully unsuitable device to clean the muck off the shoe. Before you know it, your relaxing stroll has descended into a shit-strewn farce; an exercise in pointless fury as you curse the insensitive, long-vanished miscreant who didn't want to disrupt their walk and who has, in the process, just ruined your day.

As cutbacks kick in and it emerges that just one person was fined for not cleaning up after their dog in the greater Dublin area this year, attention has once again turned to turds.

In Fingal, which encompasses Balbriggan to Howth, only one €150 fine was administered.

I suppose if a statistician looked at those figures he'd assume the recent €10,000 campaign to get people to clean up has worked. But statistics only look at the figures, not the facts. And the fact is dog fouling on our streets is getting worse, not better.

Few of us would ever naturally side with a council and we are quick to blame officialdom whenever something is left in a mess. But those critics who are complaining about our lack of dog wardens and the low enforcement are missing one thing – the local authority didn't leave the dog dirt on the path for you to stand in, the dog owner did.

This immediate reaction to blame someone in authority is something we see around this time of the year, every year.

Because you just know that when the sun next comes out the airwaves will be full of furious beach-goers who had to deal with mountains of muck left behind by previous visitors.

We'll hear exactly the same complaints and outraged denunciations levelled at the various councils for not emptying the bins often enough and for not keeping the place spic and span. There is merit in those arguments, but they also completely miss the point.

Because no council creates a mess.

Ultimately, the parks, beaches and paths we use are our responsibility, not theirs. Sure, they could be doing a better job of cleaning it, but too many Irish people think other people were put on this planet to clean up after them.

While the complaints about dirty beaches are, by their very nature, a seasonal thing, dog poop is a hardy perennial that keeps on giving all year round and both boil down to the simple and basic contempt so many of us have for our neighbours.

Nothing, short of dropping your own trousers in the middle of the road, signifies your attitude towards the people around you than allowing your dog to defecate on the path, or in the park, or on the local green, and then sidling away without cleaning it up.

But as obnoxious and unhealthy and simply icky as this habit is, it signifies a greater weakness at the heart of the Irish psyche: "Ah, sure someone else will do it." However, someone shouldn't have to do it.

If it's your mess, you should do it.

Like many dog lovers, I instinctively bristle whenever someone criticises them, and I admit that I am protective of my two to the point of prickliness.

But as much as I love these brilliant creatures, and as much as I genuinely believe every home is enriched by the presence of an animal, some owners are just idiots.

Sorry. I know that's breaking the secret code of the dog walker.

But there is no excuse for not cleaning up and if fines don't work and civic pride and self respect aren't a factor, what else could we do?

Well, name and shame the buggers – put up posters of dog owners and their pet whenever they are caught leaving the scene of the crime.

Obviously, we'd have to black out the dog's identity.

After all, there's no point in blaming the innocent party.

THEY CAN APPROPRIATE MY CULTURE ANYTIME

Remember racism? It's not quite as hip as it was about, say, two weeks ago. Now we have a new buzz word that we're all going to be hearing a lot of in the future – cultural appropriation.

White women learning belly dancing? That's not a way to get fit, it's cultural appropriation. Non-Mexican people wearing a sombrero and eating a burrito at a Mexican-themed party? Cultural appropriation.

And now the latest case of cultural appropriation (the previous two examples happened in the last few weeks) is the news that a fraternity in the University of California has been banned from having a 'grass skirts and coconut bras' hula party for charity.

According to the students, the charity event was the latest in a long line of "acts of cultural appropriation that hurt marginalised People of Colour communities because they maintain and fortify white male hegemonic structures".

I'm guessing the student isn't an English major, so why don't students simply eradicate all expressions of identity – maybe by covering themselves entirely in white sheets with two eye holes poked in the hood?.

But you know what? I bet someone would still find a reason to say even that would be offensive.

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

Director Jordan Vogt Roberts is apparently bringing Metal Gear Solid to the big screen.

MGS fans are understandably excited but they don't need to wait until next year.

No, all they have to do is watch the current season of 24 which, more than ever, sees Jack Bauer doing his best Solid Snake impression as he runs from level to level, obliterating his enemies in increasingly unlikely ways before progressing to the next stage.

It really is that silly.

And that good.

Ian O'Doherty

Irish Independent

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