What to do with all the poo as spring inches closer
Practice what you preach, Ellen. Especially if this was going to be the topic for my next column. So I broke a stick off a tree, bent over my pooch’s fresh deposit and poked at it.The next step was the tricky part. I slowly lifted the weighted stick (I could hear the words I’d write: “See all you dog owners how easy this is …”) and was about to fling it into the woods, when the situation turned disastrous. My neighbor’s Golden Retriever jogged toward the stick, snatched it out of my hand, and sent the whole mess flying.OK, so maybe the stick recommendation will only work around certain non-retrieving dog types, but it beats leaving Rover’s stinky poo on the trail. Given the current messy state of Summit County’s various trailheads (at least before this last storm cycle) I’m guessing most dog owners, myself included, don’t often clean up after their pets. I do pick up after Robby, but only around our neighborhood, in town limits or, for that matter, anywhere on private property. If I’m out skiing with him in our National Forest, I don’t pay much attention to where he does his thing, unless I see him leave it right on the trail (and that’s where the stick method works great). I would guess that many of us feel that our vast public lands are one place where we don’t have to care about where our dog deposits.At least a foot of snow melted over this past dry spell and last week marked the beginning of the spring poop soup, in which an entire winter’s inventory rises to the surface. The recent new snow will hide the inevitable for only so long; soon we’ll be back to where we were last week.But it did finally hit me that maybe I needed to be a little more responsible when I’m skiing with the dog in our forests. Last week on the Peak 7 green gate trail, I was totally disgusted. This very narrow path had become a continuous row of brown blobs. Instead of losing myself to the rhythms of skiing, all my attention was focused on locating the next clump. Of course, whenever you bring attention to something, it will probably happen. I came around a sharp icy corner and my ski tip sliced through the center of a particularly fresh pile, and because some higher spirit wanted to give me a little bonus slap, my pole proceeded to harpoon another. At least it was a good excuse to treat myself to the special dog doo scrape and wax at Pup’s Glide Shop.The problem is this: We have too many people now recreating on too little land. I guess it’s time for me to start doing my part, even if it is our National Forest. I’ll have to keep a close eye on where Robby does his business. I’ve always believed that most dogs’ messes eventually dissolve into good fertilizer for the summer flowers and soil. I know some folks worry about the germs and diseases from dog poop (just don’t touch it), but I’ve never worried much about that. It is more the odors and the visuals which annoy me – and, of course, performing the inevitable dog poo slalom down an icy trail doesn’t suit my fancy either.I started to add it all up. Robby is 8. About three days a week he relieves himself somewhere in our public lands, That adds up to roughly 1,000 brown piles, which perhaps would top off a large garbage can.So I’ve decided that as soon as we go through our next meltdown, I’m bringing the garbage can to the trailhead I use the most (probably French Creek), and I’m going to do a little cleanup. I also thought I could leave my old avalanche shovel at the trailhead with a sign, offering folks to use it if they like, to pitch the stuff down the embankment so at least it’s out of sight. I doubt we can hope that dog owners will start to carry it out. That might be too much to ask, when so many of us are so accustomed to doing nothing.Try the stick method, donate a shovel to your favorite trailhead, carry a plastic bag. Just try to give back somehow, some way this spring so we can all breathe – and ski – with a little more ease.Longtime Breckenridge resident Ellen Hollinshead writes a biweekly column on the outdoors. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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