The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

OF LAW AND DOGS: It is one of the great truisms of modern American life that anyone who says that they do not wish to complain is either a) about to complain about something; b) is already complaining about something and is taking this opportunity to start complaining about something else; or c) lying. The statement begs for a qualification, for a but or an and, especially the former; no one says I do not wish to complain so I won’t. No, saying that you don’t wish to complain needs a but even more than my brother does, and he’s up to a two pack a day habit as it is. So, as I see no reason why I should be any exception to the rule, here goes: I do not wish to complain here, but (see, what did I tell you?) I wonder if anyone here in our happy little burg realizes that there is a pooper-scooper law on the books?

Yes, there is, boys and girls, you can even look this worthy ordinance up online, if you wanted to; the City Code is available for the public’s perusal both online and in hard copy here at the egregious mold pit wherein I labor day in and day out. The law, which apparently had bipartisan support from both cat and dog owners, requires that pet owners who walk their pets on the public thoroughfares and whose pets consequently relieve themselves on those same public thoroughfares, must then pick up the pet’s droppings—with what is solely at the discretion of the pet owner—and place the excrement in the nearest litter basket. Now, I will be among the very first to admit that this law basically targets dog owners; cats relieve themselves in sandboxes or in private places of their own; tropical fish are hardly likely to leap from their aquaria nor will hamsters abandon their wheels in order to relieve themselves on the streets of our fair micropolis. The legislation is squarely aimed at dogs and their owners. But at the time, dog owners understood the need for the legislation. No one who remembers the bad old days, the days when you could see grown men and women hopscotching their way down Main Street in order to avoid the semi-mountainous piles of ordure wants a return to the filth-freckled streets of yesteryear. No, we are all for the pooper-scooper law here in our happy little burg, even if it is now very clear that some of the citizenry haven’t gotten the word.

I bring this nauseating topic up first, because I am tired of having to deal with the remains of Fido’s lunch on the sidewalks everyday, and second, I damn near tumbled down an old railroad embankment and into the creek that runs through the south side of town last week while trying to avoid stepping into some pooch’s poop. This, as you might imagine, was not fun, as I am entirely too old and out of shape to go around playing Tarzan at a moment’s notice, and the next time it happens there might not be a convenient tree or its branches available for the grabbing. I was down along the aforementioned creek in order to take some pictures of the old 19th century millhouses along the water’s edge, which are a favorite subject of mine—I actually have more pictures of them than I really need, now that I think of it—and to get the best angles the intrepid photographer must cross some old railroad tracks. Metro-North, a division of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, a public authority renowned here in the Vampire State for its ability to lose money while operating a monopoly, owns these tracks and apparently does not care what the dog owners here do with them.

I suppose I could do the popular thing here and not bring the subject up at all; this, in fact, was my attitude towards the matter in general and the matter in particular for a very long time; but after the Tarzan misadventure and my hurried scramble up the embankment to the relative safety of the tracks I saw something that stunned me, something that caused me to stop, brought up by a toxic brew of shock, horror, and outrage. There, on the track, or rail, and not on the tie, or sleeper, for those of you accustomed to British usage, was a nearly fresh pile of dog dung. The disgust I felt towards the dog’s owner at that moment knew no earthly bounds, and had this fiendish wretch allowed his brute to defecate there in my presence I would have committed murder most foul and entirely justified upon this vile specimen’s loathsome carcass.

I do not blame the dog. The dog is merely doing what all animals must at one time or another. Take a moment, however, and think of how the owner has perverted this natural bodily function. This submoronic dolt has, with malice aforethought and with the complete and unhindered use of his admittedly limited faculties, trained an innocent beast to relieve its bodily wastes along a length of standard gauge rail and then, if this altogether dubious and completely noisome accomplishment were not enough, left the dog’s waste there on the rail for all to see. You would think that someone with enough wit to train a dog to perform such a feat would also have the wit to clean up the mess afterwards, but you would be wrong.

No, having trained the dog to relieve itself on a rail, this malevolent jackass left the pile of poop where the rest of us would have to look at it, no doubt to better advertise his dog’s intellectual accomplishments. It would not surprise me in the least to learn that this miscreant also videotaped his dog’s misadventure, if so willed an act can be rightly called thus, and has sent said tape in to some cute pet video show, so that others of his dimwitted ilk can likewise enjoy the sight of a dog crapping on a rail. The mind boggles at the possibilities for commercial exploitation here.

Clearly, a warning will not suffice with this scurvy knave. The law stands as warning enough, common decency stands as warning enough, a desire to protect the health of his fellow citizens stands as warning enough, and yet this whelpitudinous jackanapes still permits his mutt to pollute the public thoroughfares. No, mere deterrence is not enough in this case. A public example is needed here, lest others think that they, too, may flout the full majesty of the law with impunity. It is clear that the outraged citizenry of this our happy little burg must take matters into our own hands. We must tar and feather this contemptible lout and run him out of town on a rail, preferably the rail his dog has developed such an excretory attraction for. Then, and only then, will the decent, hardworking people of our town be able to walk the streets with their heads held high, and without keeping one eye peeled on the sidewalk looking for Rover’s next “accident.”

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