43. Cleaning Up the Park

Dear Tera,

            Question: when are humanoids not humanoids?  When they act like dung beetles.

            That’s one conclusion I’ve reached following the 11th annual pick-a-poo harvest.[1] I suppose this year was your first harvest.  One morning every year, our humanoids gather in the park to clean it up. 

            The stated reason for the harvest is to recover any of the deposits we may have left over the winter, when often it is more difficult in the shorter daylight to keep track of a dog’s perambulations and pauses.  Our humanoids make up for any oversight by devoting a Saturday morning to generally sprucing up the park.

            Sure, there’s some of our droppings that may have been missed in the snow some months back.  But the biggest job seems to be picking up humanoid waste – plastic bags, coffee cups, discarded newspapers, cigarette packages, fast food clamshells, gum dispensers, butane lighters, pop bottles.

            It becomes very clear that many humanoids are much less fastidious about cleaning up their own garbage as they are about cleaning up after us. 

            In fact, this morning, just 24 hours after we cleaned up every bit of paper and debris from the little park at the corner of Riverdale and Bank, Alpha and I went back to retrieve a Tim Horton’s cup, a McDonald’s wrapper, and two discarded cigarette packages that humanoids had tossed aside in the interim.

            All this I have come to expect in my years working with Alpha and all our other friends on the pick-a-pooh harvest.  But this year, there’s been a disturbing new trend, and I can tell it has Alpha and the other humanoids very annoyed.

            It seems that some humanoids are using our parks to dump their yard and garden waste.  Go figure.  These humanoids take the time to nurture and care for their own property, and then dump barrels full of hedge clippings, dead cedars, dried-out house plants, rock garden stones, and tree prunings into a public park.

            Yesterday it took Alpha three hours to gather eight bags full of someone’s discarded yard waste that had been dumped into Linda Thom Park as though the area between the bicycle path and the river was their own personal compost heap. 

            He and I hauled these bags in the pouring rain to the garbage bins on Bank Street, where the City will pick them up.  Why the garden owners didn’t bag this stuff and leave it for the City in the first place is a mystery.

            Further down the path, at the parking lot, another team spent their three hours clearing away piles of brush and stones that someone had dumped in the woods.  Can you imagine how our park will deteriorate if more humanoids get the idea that our park is their waste disposal site?  Not much room left for romping and chasing balls.

            Sorry to rant on like this, but it’s a real burr under my tail.  You’re a young pup and idealistic.  You’ve yet to learn that humanoids can be capable of such selfish behaviour.  But maybe if we all work on it together, we can put a stop to it and save our park.

            If ever you see someone dumping their yard waste in our park, growl, bark, snap, and bite if necessary.  We have to tell these humanoids that such behaviour is not appropriate – not to their species, and not to ours.[2]

                                                                        Protecting our parks,


 [1] Every year, Zoscha made a point of reporting on the annual pick-a-poo harvest at Windsor and Linda Thom parks.  Most years she described the work songs the workers sang as they cleaned up the winter debris.  The first time was Part 3, “Poop Picking Harvest,” April 2000.  The last was Part 83, “No Country for Old Dogs,” May 2008.

[2] Callista Wise, “Zoscha’s World, Then and Now,” Carleton U Canine Review, October 2012, points out that in recent years the incidence of yard waste being dumped in the parks has dropped off almost entirely.  Instead, the residents along the parks’ perimeters have tended some of the most beautiful flower gardens in the neighbourhood.