The sod is sodden, the grass shows green shoots, first signs of buds swelling on the trees, and the boards from the hockey rink are stacked up like platform islands in the middle of Windsor Park. It’s that time of year again: time for the annual pick-a-poop harvest.
I can’t wait. Any day now we’ll go down to the play structures – Alpha, the Pup, Lily and I – and we’ll gather with all the other dogs who have worked so hard over the winter to plant the seeds for the spring harvest.
We’ll gather with the happy peasants in their quaint poop picking costumes – the work gloves, the heavy duty boots, the pants that can’t be worn except for dirty labour. They’ll carry their traditional tools – the plastic garbage bags and paper yard bags, the trowels, the rakes.
And while we dogs sniff and cavort, the humanoids will get down to the serious work of cleaning up any droppings left behind from last winter. The work is not so serious, though, that they don’t join in chorus to sing the ancient working songs of the festive occasion.
I’ve been picking up the dog poop
All the live-long day.
I’ve been cleaning up the dog crap
‘Cause Spring is on its way.
How many years have they gathered like this? Perhaps it goes back generation after generation, to the dim beginnings of humanoid history.
To a time when our two species began to interact and connect for our mutual advantage. A time when humanoids and dogs lived in their separate caves. A time before the hierarchy of who sleeps on the floor, who on the bed, and who gets punished for sneaking up on the sofa when nobody’s looking.
Can’t you hear the Alpha calling
Waiting with the baggies in the hall?
Can’t you see the Pup come throwing?
Doggie fetch a ball.
At some point in that early dawn of civilization, what spark of inspiration led the first friendly dog to galumph over to some humanoid child and wag its tail? Maybe it dropped onto its forelegs in the “let’s play” pose.
Being a humanoid pup and not yet ingrained in the prejudices of that species, that youngster threw a stick. She came back to the cave at the end of the day saying, “Mom! Dad! Looked what followed me home! Can I keep him? Please, please, pleeeeeaaaaase?”
Doggie won’t you fetch,
Doggie won’t you fetch,
Doggie won’t you fetch a ball?
I imagine that the pick-a-poop harvests began shortly thereafter – out in the forests primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks bearded with moss. The humanoids gathered with their primitive poop picking tools to celebrate their good fortune in teaming up with a species as intelligent, loyal and compassionate as our own. Oh, and fun-loving. Did I mention fun-loving?
Someone’s in the kitchen with doggie.
Someone’s in the kitchen I wish.
Someone’s in the kitchen with doggie,
Filling up his dinner dish.
And so I look forward to joining with all our friends, both doggie and humanoid, for a ritual to honour a longstanding alliance and friendship between two species. Here’s to the symbiosis! Here’s to infusing their species with a sense of play! And let’s hope they don’t forget the kibble treats.
Many of Zoscha’s readers have observed that she often sprinkles her prose with various quotes, parodies and allusions. This month, one of them is pretty obvious; another, less so. But if you can identify a reference, send your contest entry to firstname.lastname@example.org, using “Zoscha’s contest” in your title line. Or drop a note off at the Firehall.
And a cyberspace doggie biscuit with a virtual pat on the head go to Ruth Smith of Bellwood Avenue for correctly identifying one of last month’s two allusions. Zoscha riffed from the Second Book of Samuel, Chapter 1: “How are the might fallen in the midst of the battle... How are the mighty fallen and the weapons of war perished.”
Nobody picked up the more obscure reference that followed immediately after. “Nothing I ever read prepared me for a body this unfair,” is by Ottawa poet, the late John Newlove, and is cited in Michael Ondaatje’s “Elimination Dance.”