34. Cleaning Up the Park

Dear Boomer,

Windsor Park is bursting with leaf.  The riverbank is rank with scents of animals that have been hiding away all winter -- rabbits and muskrats and garter snakes.  Occasionally on the streets I pick up the scent of raccoons that have been by the night before. And everywhere there’s the over-riding scent of flower blossoms – the cherries and crabapples in bloom and the lilacs ready to burst out.

Humanoids love this time of year.  It makes them cheerier.  And to mark the beginning of the season, they gather in the park and clean up all the deposits that they missed over the winter, the deposits that we so thoughtfully left behind to give them something to do come Spring.[1]  The humanoids also gather up the discarded candy wrappers and coffee cups and grocery bags.  A whole winter of detritus to be harvested in a single morning. 

After they’ve finished, the humanoids gather for one of their rituals where they stand and smile at one of their number who holds that funny little box that flashes a light.  They look at the funny box, and we look at them.[2] 

The result seems to be some kind of image that shows their faces and shows our rear ends.  This is altogether appropriate.  After all, humanoids tend to greet each other by looking at one another’s face, but we of the superior species know that the best way to get to know someone is to sniff about at the other end.

We worked very hard that day, Alpha, the Pup and the two little Pup girls he likes to play with,[3] all endeavouring to throw balls for me, then taking a break to stuff papers and plastics and last winter’s poops into a green garbage bag. 

My pack cleaned up the river bank near the bridge, where humanoids come to feed the ducks.  There are always interesting smells down there, and always the hope that maybe I’ll catch a duck or a pigeon one day. 

Chasing ducks offers a different kind of satisfaction than squirrels.  There’s nowhere near the same thrill of the chase.  The satisfaction comes from hearing the explosion of scores of wings flapping together as the ducks take to the sky, and the coda of angry quacks directed our way from the ducks in the river.

For a few days following the clean-up, Windsor Park is absolutely spanking bristling clean.  And then humanoids start tossing away their empty coffee cups and cigarette packages again.  Within a few days, the plastic bags and styrofoam have blown back into the river.  If humanoids were as fastidious about cleaning up their own waste as they are cleaning up after us, the park would keep that pristine look.

The thoughts occur to me while Alpha and the Pup and I trot door to door, dropping flyers in the neighbours mail slots.  It seems that my humanoid family and yours are on some kind of campaign, delivering flyers, tapping signs into peoples’ lawns, erecting big shade-giving panels at the busier corners on Riverdale.[4]

They do this in the spring rain.  And for once, they seem as oblivious to the falling rain as we are.  I sit in the lee side of the big panels and watch and wait while they hammer and drill and staple. 

Our humanoids draw the attention of passing motorists to some kind of message written on these panels.  My Alpha in particular gets quite irate when the drivers coast through the intersection, ignoring both our panel and the stop sign.

But humanoids are indeed a silly species, because they erect these big panels vertically.  If they had any sense, they’d hammer the stakes into the ground and stretch the panels out horizontally so that they would give more protection from the rain, and more shade on a hot spring day. 

But as you and I have discussed many times, this world would be a far more reasonable place if only the dogs were in charge.        

                                                            Smiling on a glorious spring morning,


[1] See Zoscha’s numerous references to this annual event: “Poop Picking Harvest (Part 3),  Cleaning up the Park (43),  Harvest Time (52), Pick-A-Poop Harvest (61), Playoff Season (71),  No Country for Old Dogs (83).

[2] The team photo has long been a feature of OSCAR’s coverage of the annual harvest.

[3] Cassandra Wise, The Zoscha Years, Carleton University Press, p. 260, theorizes that this may be an early reference to the two girls “Sporty” and “Sunshine” who, with their mother, later came to live with Zoscha’s pack.  See Pig in the Python (Part 62).

[4] This reference perplexed Zoscha scholars for many years.  Although she often refers to Alpha’s political activities, no federal, provincial or federal campaign was held in the Spring of 2003.  In an unpublished Master’s thesis, A Dog’s Eye View, Zoscha and Windsor, (Carleton University, 2010), Monica Tardif solved the mystery by pointing out that, as Bank Street was under construction during spring and summer of 2003, neighbourhood activists erected signs to slow down the traffic that had been diverted to Riverdale Avenue. (See Part 33, Construction)