• Judy Allison

We’re here this fine spring day at a neighborhood park for another round of the Poop Patrol Criterion. The exact location will not be disclosed in deference to those whose deficient scooping habits will be judged without due process. We’ve set up additional cameras on surrounding blocks to expand our coverage.

Let’s start with an initial tally from inside the park itself. With trash barrels restricted to each entrance, dog owners are challenged if their pooches leave deposits any distance from the proper containers. A quick look and inadvertent whiff suggests that a good number of waste bags have found their way to the barrels. Well done, you gallant do-bees! The well-being of society is proportional to the number of its citizens doing the right thing. Before grousing about a community’s state of affairs, best to assess one’s own culpability.

Now for a closer look within the park’s confines. Oh, there’s an unfortunate sight. One of the regular joggers has brought his dog Trotter today. They appeared to be running well together — until now. True to his name, the poor mutt had to let go while on the move because his owner yanked on his leash to make him keep pace. So Trotter has left behind a trail of droppings on the sidewalk. Is his owner aware of these soft and smelly land mines? You be the judge.

We come upon a small group of young parents who have assembled at the play area to stand around and sip from tall lattes. Just beyond a collection of strollers, an assortment of children scramble over and under the slide. Corresponding to each small human is a furry kid. Off leash, they amiably sniff one another. Wait! Snidely, a collie mix, breaks from the pack. His adult person notices but suddenly checks his phone as the dog doo-dahs by a bench. Once Snidely finishes and returns to his buddies, his owner stops being engrossed in his phone. Will the owner remember to scoop that poop before leaving? You be the judge.

Oh! We’ve got a report from one of the streets leading to the park. Let’s train that camera on the scene.

Yes, there they are: a woman in yoga pants and a ball cap walking her stylish goldendoodle, Garbo. We’ve tuned in just in time to see Garbo finishing her business on a patch of dandelions just off the sidewalk. The woman produces a plastic bag and proceeds to police the area. She’s using a right proper bag. One of those made for the purpose, it is sanitized, deodorized, hand-sized and comes in a bright shade of pink. The woman deftly bags the debris, then ties a knot in the bag so nothing solid nor odorous can escape. But wait! She discretely leaves the bag on the spot she just cleaned! As if she has vowed to never take the task any further. She and Garbo saunter down the block. Does she get any points for a job half done? You be the judge.

Coming from the opposite direction ambles an older woman being dragged along by Torrey the Wonder Bouvier. Revved up by the proliferation of rabbits racing through the area, Torrey nonetheless must make a pit stop. The woman tends to it, but before she can finish, one dumb bunny darts from under a bush. Which causes Torrey to lunge in pursuit. While recovering her balance, the owner steps in the steaming pile. Exclaiming expletives for excrement, the crone wipes her shoe off in the grass, causing a stain that only a good watering will abate. Is there a foul here? You be the judge.

With that, our competition closes. Can we get the results from our judges? How about that! It’s a virtual tie. All our finalists will receive a small tag to put on their dogs’ collars which reads: “Pardon our owners; they’re only human.”

PREVENTION TIP: To discourage pit stops, spray a light coating of household cleaning fluid on the targeted area. It won’t kill the grass but the smell will no longer entice passing pooches.

Judy Allison has enjoyed a long and varied career in media and has written for newspapers, magazines, cable TV, government entities and elected officials. She and her dog Torrey the Wonder-Bouvier wander through many neighborhoods in the region.