Thoughts For The Day: Pooper Scoopers

Dogs. Not every man's best friend, especially when the fragrance of their bowel movements ruin your picnic date.
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Dogs. I’ve never liked dogs. I like the idea of dogs. I like the idea of being comfortable around dogs. I like the idea of stroking a dog and not immediately looking for somewhere to wash my hands. I like the idea of a dog licking my face, and jumping on my bed. I like the idea of giving my dog a cool name like Jasper or something different like that and when I walk it, I don’t walk it on a lead. It walks alongside me, like a mate, or just ahead of me. And he get to the traffic lights before me and I’ll just say, “Oi Jasper.” And he just waits there for me. I like that.

And when you bring a girl over, the dog would know when you’re about to have intercourse and quietly leave the room without whining. Do dogs whine? Well, whatever noise it is they make. That noise. You’d have that kind of understanding. I like that. So I like the idea of dogs, okay. I just don’t like dogs themselves. I don’t like what they do to our streets. I know ultimately it’s the owners who are responsible, but I just can’t get my head around the concept. The way it works and how it became accepted and established in our society.

And I don’t buy into the poop bag idea. An owner cleaning up after its dog, man, do they want a dog that bad that they are prepared to do that every day of that dog’s life? As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “If aliens are watching this through telescopes, they're gonna think the dogs are the leaders. If you see two life forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume was in charge?"

An owner cleaning up after its dog, man, do they want a dog that bad that they are prepared to do that every day of that dog’s life?

Now I live in Lambeth. So two things here: There are loads of dogs in this Borough, the moronic trophy dog being the most prevalent. And their owners are not the type of dog lovers who walk around with bags and clean up after their dogs. Not that it makes much difference to me anyway. The idea of cleaning up after your dog, to me, remains flawed. I mean, that stool’s still hitting the ground. It’s still soiling the pavement. There is not a single paving stone in Lambeth, I’m confident of this, that in its lifetime, hasn’t been soiled by a dog. And every day here in Lambeth, I see some terrible dog stained streets.

Now this is a massive thing in my life. It’s something that affects me daily. As a kid I didn’t have my own room. I’d play on the front room floor. Mainly playing Subbuteo and car football – covered in one of my podcasts – a variation of subbuteo but with matchbox cars and a proper transfer system in place. And whilst playing, I was always troubled by the fact that people were always walking into our front room with shoes on, because I was always conscious of how filthy the surrounding streets were. The road next to me on the Clapham/Stockwell border, Atherfold Road, was to this day, the filthiest road I have ever encountered. I became known for always walking in the middle of the road when visiting my mates who lived on Atherfold. And the thing is, there weren’t that many dogs on that road. I think maybe it was the road other owners brought their dogs to, thinking, “I’m not going to ruin my road. I’ll take the dog to Atherfold.“ So I was uneasy about playing on the floor. When I finally moved to sleeping in the front room in the summer of ’89, it became an even bigger issue for me. I would scream at everyone to remove their shoes.

Now, as an adult, I’ve created what one friend has described as an antechamber in my hallway. No one, except workmen and my aunt with her Falcao ‘82 tribute hairstyle, get past with their shoes on. And when they do, I have to tell you, it kills me. I will not have shoes in my flat. And it’s something I try to do myself when I visit friends – unless they have pets of their own and I don’t want to get dog or cat hair on my socks.

I despise parks. I admire their beauty, and the design behind them, but I loathe spending time in them because I associate them with dog shit. I was on an early date a few years back in Hyde Park with a girl, a date dogged by the unmistakable aroma of a dog turd haunting our secluded spot, which we both did our best to ignore. But it was there. I’d done my hair, I’d shaved, I’d put on a half decent shirt, and for what, to be fatally undermined by a dog’s mess. And I was already struggling with being sat down on the grass because I knew that at some point in that spot’s history, something terrible would’ve happened on that patch of grass.

Eventually we went for the fumble, and inevitably ended up rolling in what we had been smelling, thus fast tracking the relationship by some years. I couldn’t deal with the fact that here I was with this girl and her stunning body and those athletic legs unleashed for the summer, that chest, her amazing fragrance, and it had all been overshadowed by this foul stench and by what we actually ended up seeing. I did what I could, trying to make light of the dog stool when we eventually realised we had been rolling around it, using as many euphemisms as I could for it, but the fact that I had to even talk about it with her, that something as horrific as that became part of our day, deflated me.

I was on an early date a few years back in Hyde Park with a girl, a date dogged by the unmistakable aroma of a dog turd haunting our secluded spot, which we both did our best to ignore.

A year ago, I saw a new couple, and I’m assuming they were new because they looked fairly awkward with each other, walking down Vauxhall Bridge when the woman almost stepped into an absolute behemoth of a stool. I mean, this thing was a country on its own. And the man just casually said, “Watch the dog shit.” I don’t want to be uttering those words on an early date. I don’t want that stuff and those ugly images coming into the relationship at any point, let alone so soon. I want the relationship to go on for as long as it possibly can with us keeping anything toilet related at bay for as long as we can.

Regular Sabotage readers will know that Clapham Common has blighted my life. In this piece here I wrote about how the Common is officially the dirtiest place in London and how I don’t get how people can go there for the film nights they put on in the summer, when they don’t know what they’re sitting on.

I’ve always hated Clapham Common. I always will. When I think of the St Mary’s school Sports Day back in the hot summer of ‘83 – and in particular, the wheelbarrow race – I ask myself, how thoroughly did our teachers check the grass when they were marking out the track?

I’ve had mums tell me they bought their kids dogs because it teaches their kids how to love. So, I’ll step in the stuff in my 6-year-old tanned shoes from Next, but that’s okay, because this dog is teaching your child how to love. It’s alright. You have your dog. I’ll find a way to manage.

You see, I can’t do the dog thing.  As a kid, on Clapham Common, my dad obsessively trained me up to be a goalkeeper, after school, night after night. If there’s one thing I’m confident of it’s that until I was 11 or 12, I was the best keeper for my age in the country. My dad never trained me like I was a kid. He trained me like I was a proper adult goalkeeper. All manner of drills. I didn’t even get to see the ball during the first hour of training.

Onlookers would stop to watch me play in goal astonished at how good I was. What they never saw was the start of training, and how I exasperated my dad by scrutinising my goal line on the Common for dog poop. He was never more disappointed in me than at those - what to him were - pansy-like moments.

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