Doggy Duty

Doggy Duty

Traveling with dogs means picking up poop.   There are two of us.  Dividing up the chore in a fair and equitable manner requires complete job descriptions.   Stay tuned for poo-duty clarity.

Tools of the Trade

We rarely let our dogs off leash.  When the dogs are off leash, they are confined to a fenced in area like a dog run.  I used to be able to run my dogs down when they got away but in the last 20 years or so, the dogs have been faster than I am.

KOA Dog Park Signage
KOA Dog Park Signage

Flashlights are needed at night, not only to see the poop but to see hazards along the walking route.  Nobody needs a visit from the skunk-fairy.

However, poo-bags are the most important tool and are now a constant travel companion.  Choosing the right poo-bag is a personal decision.    We once had poo-bags that promised excellent poo-pickup feel.  These special poo-bags were made using  materials found in surgeons gloves.  The label actually was truthful.   Unfortunately, picking up poo actually felt exactly like picking up poo without the bag.  The feeling of warmth and texture was a little too realistic and made me recoil in disgust.  Who really wants to pickup poo with their bare hands?

We’ve had some cheap bags with plastic so thin (like Walmart shopping bags) that they sometimes broke when picking up poo around thorny desert plants.  Yuck!  The problem with poo is that it sticks to twigs, sticks, thorns and leaves.  If any of those things are sharp or shaped like nails, through the bag they go.

While it may seem like plastic never decomposes, plastics used in bags can take as long as 1,000 years or more to decompose.  Not a legacy to leave future generations.  One important poo-bag feature is how long it takes to go bye-bye in the landfill.  Some of the poo-bag manufacturers use EPI additives to accelerate bag decomposition.

Other poo-bag manufacturers make vegetable starch-based certified compostable bags.  When we first used vegetable starch-based bags (early 2000’s), we discovered that they would literally decompose in the sun if we left them on the dashboard of our truck for more than a week.  Other than their quick self-destruct, they worked as well as the regular bags.

2 Ply Mutt Mitt Poo-Bag
2 Ply Mutt Mitt® Poo-Bag

These days, our preferred poo-bag is the 2 ply Mutt Mitt®.  These bags have an extra layer of bag at the poo-pickup-point making them puncture resistant.  The extra layer (black plastic above) also ensures that the poo-feel is enough to get the job done but not enough to truly feel the job.

Poo-Picker Role

The Poo-Picker picks up poo, fully encloses poo in bag and ties the bag of poo off.  At the end of the poo-pickup, the Poo-Picker will have made the poo-bag enclosed poo ready for disposal.  The following poo-picking by the Poo-Picker example uses Mutt Mitts®.  No Mutt Mitts® were harmed in the making of this blog.

In the picture below, the mouse (poo) is being held in the black double-walled mitt.

Picking Up Mouse Poo
Picking Up Mouse Poo

Weirdly, Mutt Mitts® work like hand puppets.  The hand puppet “eats” the poo.  In the picture above, the mouse, surrounded by the double-walled poo-bag mitt, is being held by my thumb on one side and four fingers on the other.

Pull the Open End of The Bag Over the Poo-Hand
Pull the Open End of The Bag Over the Poo-Hand

Once the poo is collected, slide the open end of the bag over the poo-clutching-hand leaving the poo fully enclosed in the bag.

Bag Pulled Completely Over the Poo
Bag Pulled Completely Over the Poo

Next, the bag is tied off and ready for disposal.

Tied Off Poo-Bag
Tied-Off Poo-Bag

Poo-Pickers need to carry enough poo-bags so that no poo is left behind!

Poo-Bearer Role

Poo-Bearers transport tied-off poo-bags to the nearest convenient trash receptacle.  Poo-Bearers may be required to carry multiple poo-bags.  On long hikes, poo may need to be carried for miles.

No Fish In Trash Cans
No Fish In Trash Cans

Poo-Bearers are often called upon to use good judgement.  Poo is not fish therefore these cans are suitable receptacles for poo-bags.

Leash-Holder Role

The leash holder’s responsibility includes but is not limited to holding onto the leash and making some attempt to keep the dogs safe.  Safe from other dogs, wild animals and errant tasty bits of questionable food and scat.

Poo-Spotter Role

During times of degraded visibility, Poo-Spotters pay attention to where the dogs deposit their poo and then help the Poo-Picker find the poo at pickup time.

Flashlight Lighting Mouse-Poo In Poor Lighting Conditions
Flashlight Lighting Mouse-Poo In Poor Lighting Conditions

Poo-Spotters don’t just shine a light on poo. They also help pick out the poo when the poo blends into the background. Poo just naturally blends into dirt, rocks, leaves, twigs and tall grass.

Bag-Buyer Role

Bag-Buyers ensure a steady supply of ready to use poo-bags. We buy 800 poo-bags at a time which last us between 80 and 120 days depending on poo-production.  Generally, I get anxious when we get down to 200 bags and want to buy more.  Linda likes to wait until we are below 100.

Bag-Bringer Role

Bag-Bringers are responsible for bringing enough bags to meet poo demand.  Beginner Bag-Bringers may have some issues with:

  • Finding bags in the dryer
  • Running out of bags in public places frequented by dog haters

In my early bag-bringing, I constantly got yelled at when Linda found bags in the dryer.  While I did get better at not leaving bags in my pockets, it is still not a skill I’ve completely mastered.

With our current set of (adult rescue) dogs, I started our dog walks with four bags.  I ran out of bags within the first week of daily walks.  I upped the number to six bags.  One day, four months later, I ran out of bags again.  Again I upped the number.  Now I carry eight bags.  Since then, the maximum walk dog bag consumption is seven bags.

Now that we are retired, we are walking the dogs twice a day.   Linda has taken up Bag-Bringer responsibilities and she just starts out the day with eight bags.  She hasn’t run out of bags yet.

I hope not to see dog poop on the trail ahead.

I hope to see you all on the road ahead!

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