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Scoop the Poop!

Posted: 2:05PM April 5th, 2012 | Comments


Now, I did my best to wait until after lunch time for this post, but I do have to offer my sincere apologies to anyone who might still be finishing an early afternoon repast.

You know what though, icky is icky regardless of what time it is, so let's just flush it all out into the open: 

Dog poop is not something anyone is particularly fond of.  (Well, maybe that isn't entirely true, but more on that in a moment.)  As long as Man is seeking companionship that doesn't require a SWM ad on craigslist, he'll probably be seen strolling with Fido or Spike for the foreseeable future.  He mostly does that (1) at sun-up, (2) at lunch time, and (3) after office hours.  And while some intrepid souls see these as opportunities for jogging (lol) or other outdoor activity, most people are simply "letting the dog out to do his thing."

Since Fido doesn't particularly care about the finer points of "lawn care", "neighborliness", or really, anything more sophisticated than "treats!" it's up to you, Mr Pet Owner Guy, to, well, just.... 


There are plenty of reasons for this, folks.  Not least of all so someone doesn't trail a little reminder of Pooch into the office with them, or make a mess in a real hurry with the lawnmower, etc.

But, since this is (nominally) a blog about all things sustainability, let's talk poopy lakes.  

Madisonians generally take pride in their miles of lake frontage, and rightfully so: the Yahara watershed makes Madison, Madison.  I used to live in New York City, and regardless of whether you've been there, I don't have to tell you that people don't exactly rejoice at the sight of the East River.  Proof?  No Frank Lloyd Wrights anywhere near the place.  

Madison's lakes provide more than contour. They are the glassy luminous pearls that make for a resplendent summer on the sailboat, or a righteous good time in the ice-fishing shack in the winter.

There is, however, a consensus that there's something wrong with our lakes.  They should be safe for family-cavorting, buddy-fishing, and toddler-doggy-paddling.  They shouldn't be choked with blooms of algae and clouds of muck.  

So.  What does this have to do with dog-doo, you ask?  (And probably also, "Why am I still reading this?")

Well, a lot actually.  A recent back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that in Dane County, dog waste can contribute as much as 3.3 million pounds of algae to the watershed.  Dog waste, like all feces, is loaded with phosphorous and other nutrients which, in small amounts, are really beneficial (see: composting).  But if large amounts of dog waste are left on high land, when the snow melts or the rain pours, all of this muck is washed straight into Monona, Mendota, and their sisters.  And phosphorous is one of the leading causes of algae blooms in these otherwise beautiful waters. 

There are plenty of other reasons for the problems our lakes face.  Don't go yelling "Bad Dog!" just cos it's bad news. 

So one more time we'll go to New York.  Behold: the dung-denaturing & biodegradable doggy bag.  Sounds like a good idea to me; good for the garden and great for the lakes.  Who's in?

(dan o)

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