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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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A Sign of the Turds

It’s been six months since our precious pooch scampered off to that golden kennel in the sky.

(Not really; I’m being euphemistic. She’s actually in an urn on our bookshelf.

And probably peeing in it.)

Without a mutt to meander with, I don’t walk around the neighborhood as much as I used to. And when I do make the local rounds, I apparently don’t pay much attention to the signage. Because it was just yesterday that I noticed, a couple of blocks over, an old sign on an apartment building that reads:

Please Keep Dogs on Leash

Clean Up Mess

$25-$200 Fine for Violations

Now, the leash thing I’ve got no issue with. We kept our dog on a leash at all times outside because, frankly, she was kind of an idiot. Oh, there was little chance — in her last eight years or so, anyway — that she’d bolt into traffic or run away to join a fleabitten circus or something. But she was curious, and stubborn, and off leash she would’ve wound up sniffing poop behind a thorn bush or up a telephone pole or some other dumb inaccessible place. Leashing was just easier.

“This poop math, it’s not an exact science.”

Likewise, I’m all for people — including me — cleaning up their dog’s droppings. My wife and I were quite diligent about this, partly because it’s just the polite and neighborly and responsible thing to do.

But also because if we left a pile of turds lying around somewhere, we’re the sort of people who are likely to step in it later. So “neighborly”, yes. But also, we just don’t watch where we walk so much, and we can only tolerate so many pairs of stink-ass shoes.

(I’ve done some math on this subject, by the way. We had our dog for twelve-and-a-half years. At two bowls of kibble a day, plus Snausages and biscuits and whatever she snarfed from strangers, and four to six walks per day, lessee… carry the one, an extra walk on weekends, and… I estimate that we’ve bagged roughly forty-three billion turds since the turn of the century.

Give or take a steamer. This poop math, it’s not an exact science.)

It’s really the last part of the sign that concerns me. Not because there’s a fine. Not because of the size of the fine. What concerns me is that there’s a range of values to the fine. Which makes me wonder:

What criteria determine the size of a dog poop fine? And who decides?

I picture a guy, some flunky on the police force or at the county courthouse, whose job is to review the turd files. Maybe he goes over pictures or forensic evidence. Maybe he even interviews witnesses:

Was the poodle fully in the azalea patch, or just hovering its butt above?

This doesn’t look like malamute plop. Are you certain it was a malamute, sir?

What the hell are you feeding that thing — firecrackers with sriracha sauce?!

Probably not once of those “love your job” kinds of job. But now I almost want a dog, so I can walk it over to the apartment building and leave piles of terrier turds on the lawn until someone catches me. Not maliciously; I just want to see the process. Is a sidewalk stain an extra twenty bucks? Do you pay more for spread, if it’s not in one of those curly little piles? These are questions just sitting up and begging for answers. It’d even be worth a hundred bucks to find out.

Or a hundred and fifty, if I take a Saint Bernard. Those mothers can poooop.

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