Thursday, June 7

Stepping In It

Today, I want to talk about something which is considered, well, a sensitive issue to some. My father-in-law cringes when any reference at all is made to this particular subject. But it needs to be discussed. After all, everyone does it. And I need to talk about it. Let's talk about poop.

On a recent Wordless Wednesday, I tripped across the picture above at The Simple Times in Life. When I read the sign I uttered a single, gusty HA! and quickly wrote something in Angie's comment section about needing a service like that here in The Netherlands. I asked if I might have permission to use her photo here at this blog. She said yes, and a post about poop was born.

So, let's talk about it.
Poop, I mean.
Dog poop to be precise.

Living in The Netherlands is not only our first experience living outside of the United States, it is also our first experience in city living. Not that Phoenix isn't a proper city itself, but like many western US cities it is a mass of suburban living. We moved from an area where most folks have a house with a yard. A yard used presumably for recreation and family fun, and in the case of dog ownership is also used as a pooping facility. A place for dogs to go, as it were.
Coupled with the fact that within the city's public places and spaces there are enforced laws and codes regarding a dog's leavings, it makes for a relatively clean city when it comes to poo.

Not so for The Netherlands.

The Dutch are fond of their dogs. Upon observation here, it doesn't take long to recognize that fact. The Dutch like dogs and there are a lot of dogs here. A lot. Dogs who are loved and nurtured and walked and cuddled. Dogs who are romped with and fed well. Dogs who are adored. Dogs who poop and who are never, never, never, cleaned up after.

Yes, I am exaggerating. Never is the wrong word to use there, but it has so much impact I just had to leave it in. The truth is dogs in Holland are rarely cleaned up after.

This is a case though where less is still too much.

You have to walk carefully down the sidewalk here. More often than not there will be special warm package awaiting the sole of your boot as you stroll along. On my own street, at the same spot nearly every day, there is a happy pile of sunshine waiting to bless our senses with its presence. And our shoes with its mush.

It's not my favorite thing.

Not even close.

Indeed, we have learned to keep one eye on the ground as we walk and can over step or swiftly steer around the droppings on the footpath or on the streets with exceptional skill. At least those packages, large and small, left behind on the cobblestones are the ones you can readily see. Walking in the grass is an entirely separate issue. We have had to teach Andrew to cautiously approach the greenbelts and grassed in areas around the canals, as these are notoriously full of the stuff the dogs drop.

One fateful day last summer, Andrew and I took a walk to visit and feed the ducks near our house. As we have now come to expect, just as he stepped into the park, and just as I was calling out "watch where you step, baby !" he planted his foot directly in a pile of poo.
The discovery of the badness upon his shoe was extremely disconcerting to his newly turned 3-year-old self and he turned to me and uttered the longest phrase he had yet assembled as he exclaimed "Mama! You gotta clean my shoe!". Then, as we hop-marched homeward, he chanted it over and again: "mama-you-gotta-clean-my-shoe-mama-you-gotta-clean-my-shoe-mama-you-gotta-clean-my-shoe!"

If this was the first time I heard him put together a phrase so long and eloquent, it wouldn't be the last. Alas, for the shoes and for our noses, his tiny sneakers are constantly sitting proudly on display in the front garden--'airing out'.
Stepping in poop has become a constant pastime. It's not like he can help it. The poo is everywhere. E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

I get so excited when I see a dog owner on a walk with his/her pooch holding onto a plastic bag, ready to scoop and toss any leavings the pup may deposit. Seriously, I feel so much thrill at this rare sighting, I want to throw my arms around the poop scooper and yell "thanks for saving my son's shoes!"

I haven't done it yet, but I just might.

Yeah, we got poop. Please come scoop. Or at the very least, take your turn scraping the shoes.

I am dialing the 800 number now.

I wonder how long until they get here?


  1. OH am I ever familiar with this issue. Our neighborhood is rampant with dogs. Don't get me wrong. I like dogs. I don't like them pooping on my lawn. In fact, I don't blame the dogs for that. But seriously people, would it be so hard ot bring a damned plastic baggies with you to clean up after your pets?

    There is a house in my neighborhood that has the perfect sign on it's lawn. I will try to get a picture of it for you and email it to you so you can have an addendum to this post. It is a picture of a dog squatting, in obvious poo posture, with a big red 'NO' written on it. I've been tempted to make my own on various occasions.

  2. paige-
    I would love to see it if you get a shot of the sign.
    Your comment reminded me that there is another addendum I should add. It is a link to The Wink with a post I read the other day about this very issue in her neighborhood!
    I love dogs too, I just don't love what they leave behind.

  3. Oh, this is too funny! But, I feel your pain. Our neighbor's dog loves to come over and do his business in our yard. It's no fun.

  4. Thanks Jen! You did good. In our country where I am originally from which is the Philippines, we don't have the scooping regulation that's why dogs can drop bombs anywhere as they please. As dogs can be stray or pets, doesn't make a difference because it's not implemented to clean after your bestfriend unlike here in the US. I was even amazed when I saw the signs in the parks and on the streets that it's a must to pick up your dog's droppings coupled with a garbage bag dispenser on the sidewalk.

  5. Hello, I am a regular visitor of Marloes' blog and have read a few of your interesting posts already. This issue I (as Dutch dogowner) cannot understand. I mean, it is a bloody shame that people cannot walk normally over the streets because of the poop. We live in a very small village (800 souls) in Friesland and there is a lot of space here where the dogs can do what they have to do. Nevertheless when walking our two dogs in the village we carry small plastic bags or a little scoop to clean up the mess. It is not difficult, it is no trouble, it is just a habit.

  6. yuk. I do hope the poop situation gets better for you where you are. again I say yuk.

  7. wieneke- (what a lovely name!)
    You see? You are one of the dog owners whom I would throw my arms around giving you thanks for taking care of the messes!
    It doesn't seem so hard to me either, and I don't understand why people can't do as you say, and just make it a habit.
    It's just courteous I think. Thanks for doing it. And thanks for the comment.

  8. hmm is it really that bad? I don't remember that, when living in The Hague...or maybe Belgians are just as bad and I didn't notice the difference. I am not a dog owner, so I do get terribly frustrated when I see those piles on the sidewalk. Gross, it's just gross.

    I do know one street that is always very bad: Harstenhoekstraat!

  9. Amen, Jenn! I onde knocked on a woman's door because my dog had used the three bags I packed. She was so shocked and thrilled that I thought to knock and ask for a bag she offered to clean it up herself. It's just so basic- you make a mess, you clean it up. Good grief.

    We have those squatting dog signs here too, usually at homes with private wells. I'll try and snap one for you.

  10. This is the second post I'm reading today about poop. Great topic, apprarently. In fact, my hubby went out to our backyard to pick up after our dog at dusk. Like an hour passed and I finally went down to see if he was finished and, as it turns out, he had stepped in poop while picking up poop! But, he didn't know it so he walked into the house, walked into the living room to get the dog's bowl, went to the kitchen to fill said bowl with water and then back to the living room -- all the while tracking poop through the house all over our hardwood floors. He was on his hands and knees, scrubbing, for a half hour. I get so annoyed when people don't pick up after their dogs on our sidewalks. Like I want to walk or push my stroller through that shit. Oops. Sorry.

  11. goofball-
    Unfortunately, it is that bad. Just today as I was helping him get his shoes on Andrew said "Hey! The shoes are clean!". It's such a novelty, it had to be commented upon!

    I went back again to read your diatribe against the neighbor and grimaced all over again. I love your writing, by the way.

    ooo-ick! Tracking poop through the house!
    And yes, poo on the wheels of the buggy is soooooo nasty! There is no other word for it!

    thanks for the sympathy!

    I know, laugh at my expense! We laugh too, right after we say *bad words* about doggie doo.

    Thanks again for the use of the photo and the inspiration for such a lovely topic! Heh!

  12. The poop scene is pretty stinky gross in Italy, too (this coming from a dog owner!) Where I am moving in Colorado is dog heaven. They even have a tray of doggie biscuits on the counter at the local bank, and there are plastic bag dispensers on every corner, thus almost no poop. My husband said they once tried those dispensers here, but the bags were FOR SALE! How totally lame is that?!

  13. Seriously, they don't clean it up from the sidewalk? That's just plain rude - crazy even.

  14. Now this is something about another culture that I did not know.
    Wow-it is no fun to step in it, although I am slightly jealous of those folks that never have to pick it up.
    Too many times a day I gather my little biodegradable black bag and get a warm handful...

    p.s. Everyone does poop and I am no ashamed to talk about it!

  15. I usually don't like going over to friends' houses that have a no-shoes policy, but I think if I lived in the Netherlands, I'd implement one.

  16. Ewwwww.... Italy was the same way in the late 1980's/early 1990's. Is it a European thing?

  17. Um...


    I think that's really all I have to say about this...


  18. Gross - those dog poops must spoil many an otherwise-pleasant walk!

  19. Congratulations Jenn, you have now entered Phase III of the ex-pat experience. Phase I of course is "Wow, Ain't it Great...?", Phase II is "I Miss My Mommy (or Sis, Best Friend, Pace picante sauce, Favorite TV program or whatever sets off the homesickness)". You now find yourself in Phase III, "Gosh Darn It, Why the Heck Can't They...?" You chose the topic of dog poop this time. In a previous blog it was toilets. My husband goes into a great rant about Dutch traffic rules. And don't get any ex-pat in the Netherlands started about the Dutch tax code. You now find yourself in the phase where some things can just set you off and get you ranting. Just remember, as you can see from your other comments, it is not just in the Netherlands! When you find yourself getting to worked up in a good rant, be sure and go back to one of your positive blogs.

    And by the way, one of the positive aspects of always looking where you walk, Chantal always manages to find money and other "lost treasures" on the ground wherever we go. And its great practice for an archeologist or even a sidewalk inspector!!

    Keep on Bloggin'

  20. becca (who is lekkah!)-
    Well said friend. That's a big part of why keeping this blog is important to me. It gives me a place to rant about it, express it and file it away so I can get back to the enjoying of it all!
    I like your take on the eyes on the ground treasure hunting!
    Welcome aboard friend!

  21. I'm frustrated by this because there are few public places I can take my dog anymore... stupid, irresponsible dog owners make me crazy.

    I always have a couple of bags with me. The park where we walk has a big tube full of plastic bags and garbage cans all along the path. You seldom see poop piles there thank heavens.

    Dog owners who don't pick up their pets' poo should be hung by their toes, with their noses in a pile of "sunshine".


  22. Jen,

    Being Dutch, living in the States, I think it is just totally GROSS!!

    It never ceases to amaze me, that those "Dutch" people (of whom I am one) leave their icky dog stuff around. While they are so terribly CLEAN in their own homes. Everytime I visit my fam. in Holland, it amazes me.

    Every time they visit us here in California, it amazes them that here, people pick it up! Sorry for the bad manners of my people. :(

  23. Considering how fastidious the Dutch are about house cleaning, you'd think they'd clean up after their dogs!

  24. Ah yes. It always takes a few incidents upon arrival in the Netherlands to relearn this lesson. So gross. And it rains so much which is good and bad. Good - eventually washes it away. Bad, sometimes takes a few rains to do so and inbetween becomes a less observable poop puddle. Or mushier mess on the shoes becoming impossible to remove. EEEWWWW.