The pernicious myth of the poop fairy persists
Does my dog have to be leashed in Summit County?
Summit is obviously a very pet-friendly kind of place, but there are some restrictions about when and where your pooch can experience his freedom. In most unincorporated areas in Summit, your dog needs to be under immediate control. This doesn’t mean you have to have your hand on his collar at all times; rather your best friend must be within 10 feet of a person capable of controlling the mutt. No, your 3-year-old playing in the grass 5 feet away does not count.
Also, don’t expect everyone to love your dog as much as you do. While I’m sure your dog is the best, cutest, happiest dog in the whole wide world, if you can’t keep him from running up to complete strangers he should probably stay on a leash.
Be aware of your dog’s temperament, as well. There’s nothing worse than walking along and having Cujo start growling and snapping at you. “He never does that,” is not an excuse either. You and I both know he does do that, so just be aware and keep him leashed. It’s also just good etiquette that if you see someone else walking with their dog on a leash, either leash your pup or make sure you really do have vocal control. The other dog might not be as well-behaved as your doggie so it’s best to give him a little space and a chance at a happy walk, as well. An even better indication of a dog that needs a little space is if the pup has a yellow ribbon on its leash. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon it means “do not approach,” especially with another dog. The yellow fur-baby might not be friendly, but it also might have a medical problem, be in training, in rehab or some other reason it shouldn’t be too close to your dog.
There are some areas in the county where dogs must be leashed. These areas include Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Willow Creek Open Space and the paved portions of the Summit County Recreational Pathway. Check with each town and specific venues to find out exactly where it’s alright to be off-leash.
Some places, such as the Dillon Amphitheater, have specific events where pets are not allowed, so please realize the rules for bringing your faithful friend along might change, and again check with the venues.
Is the Poop Fairy Real?
This question has provoked angst and sometimes anger from both visitors and locals alike. Let’s lay this one to rest once and for all: There is no poop fairy. The snow may cover you mutt’s mess, but it does still exist, and as we all know, once the snow melts off we are left with much more than mud lining the trails here in Summit. So as a goat who enjoys the mountains, I beg you please pick up after your pup. Nobody likes to get their hooves covered with that not-so-special surprise.
While the poop fairy may not exist, luckily the good people at the animal shelter, town officials and even local businesses do supply this wonderful invention known as “mutt mitts.” This crafty bag is used to collect your dog’s leftovers and can be found at stations on most paved walkways in the county. Also, if you want to do your part in recycling, grocery bags have the same mystical power as a poop picker-upper. If you want your own set, these bags are also sold at pet supply stores around the county, and if you look online you might even be able to get some monogrammed versions. Whatever fits your fancy, there are poop bags for all walks of life.
Picking up after your pet is important not only because trails covered in doggy doo are unsightly, but it can cause problems for water and leach into the soil creating an influx of nitrogen. This nitrogen makes it much more difficult for native plants to grow, and can leave our trails looking a little barren.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: You put the poop in a plastic bag, and then the poop fairy comes and collects it from wherever you dump the bag. Alas, it is not so. There is no magical being that combs our trails picking up bags left on the side or middle of the paths. No, in order to fully dispose of waste, you must physically put the poop in a trash container all by yourself. Many trailheads and almost all paved walkways are equipped with trash bins, which make disposal a cinch. However, there are some trailheads that do not have a trash container. I’m sorry to tell you, my friend, in this case you’ll have to pack it out. This situation may not be ideal, but if you’re taking the mutt that made the mess, you might as well take the mess, too.
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