Picking Up the Poop



It was a crisp, cool morning and I was taking it all in. Remnants of aircraft lines painted the perfectly clear blue skies overhead as the sun blazed across the landscape. Fluffy ducklings splashed into the pond in pursuit of their mom as we approached. Toto and I were on our usual mile-long morning walk when my prayers and praises of the beauty surrounding us were interrupted. As I moved my glance from the horizon to the path in front of me, it could not be missed: a big pile of poop was amassed right in front of me — in the middle of the sidewalk! I carefully jockeyed Toto around it and walked on in disgust. Seriously? Who would be so inconsiderate as to not pick up after their dog and leave it, especially there?

As we continued on our walk something inside kept nudging me to go back and clean it up with the extra waste bag I had in hand. But my logic and sense of justice kicked in to stop me. It was not my dog’s poop. Clearly a very large dog created this mighty big pile, which easily exceeded the size of Toto’s head. As we forged on, I convinced myself that it was not my responsibility.

However as much as we try to avoid it sometimes we end up having to do the dirty job of helping clean up someone else’s mess — especially those closest to us. We share in their celebrations and joys but also their sorrows and burdens. Often we are impacted by loved ones’ choices despite not having a vote in their decisions. In our closest relationships, their stuff sometimes gets on us.

On the way back, I had hoped the pile would be mysteriously gone, but it remained with no owner in site. Toto actually seemed happy about it and moved closer and closer in an attempt to thrust his body onto it. Unlike humans, dogs actually like to roll around in the poop of others. And this was a tempting target. As I held him back, I scooped up the mound and secured it safely in my bag. I was surprised by the weight and then wondered if it may have been from a fox or coyote. Whatever the source, I was grateful that a bath for Toto had been averted.

When our walk ended, Toto sat on my lap as I sipped my morning coffee and smiled thinking, “If only all of life’s messes could be cleaned up that easily!”

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