Related topics

David Rafferty No excuse for dog poop incivility

January 20, 2019 GMT

I am absolutely a dog person. I’m pretty much agnostic toward cats, so it’s nothing personal, I just like dogs more. When I was a kid I’d pester my mother incessantly for a dog. It was never going to happen, but I did my best, and always in vain. It wouldn’t be until I moved out and away that I finally joined the ranks of dog owners with an Australian Shepherd I named Dwight in honor of the NY Mets sensational rookie, Dwight Gooden.

Having not done my homework on the breed however, it turned out that Dwight needed about 114-miles of exercise a day and well, that just wasn’t happening. Luckily I had good friends with kids who could keep up with Dwight and he found a much happier forever home. Humbled by the experience, I started to look into breeds more appropriate for my rarely-at-home, single lifestyle, which led me to the American Eskimo. Eventually I met the right breeder, and through her discovered Murrow, my faithful companion who would stay with me for the next 18 years.

During those years I married, had kids and through Murrow it became clear that the Rafferty house would forever be a dog house. Sure, there were various guinea pigs, fish and lizards along the way, but Murrow held a sacred place in the family and when he passed, it was only a matter of time until a replacement was found. Back-to-back Schnoodles followed, and currently there is Cosmo the Havanese. Even my incredibly allergic wife, who first asked about Murrow when she met him as a pup, “how long do they live?” can’t envision the house without a canine companion.

So what is it about dogs that affects us so deeply? Most dog people I know will talk about their proud bearing, their unconditional affection or their genuine faithfulness. I’d agree to all that, but for me it’s always been what I’ll call a dogs uncomplicated nature which makes them so endearing.

Yes, I know I’m “anthropomorphizing,” attributing human form to animal behaviors. But can’t you just see joy in the face of a dog with a stick in its mouth? When you see it, you know that is all the dog wants and he could not be happier. Now scratch his ears and he is your friend for life. Uncomplicated. Content, even.

Which is why it pains me to watch what goes on sometimes at Tod’s Point during the winter. In a wonderful gesture to dogs and their owners, the Town opens the Point to dogs for a couple of months and all that is asked in return is common courtesy and the following of a few rules. Clean up after your dog. Please keep your dog on a leash, unless running below the high tide mark. I’m perplexed however, by the people for whom even those basic rules of civility are too much.

As a nearly everyday walker at the Point, I’ve been witness to many instances of dog owners flaunting the rules sometimes innocently, but often deliberately when it comes to excrement. Being a live-free-or-die libertarian Yankee is no excuse for dog poop incivility. No excuse for walking your dog over to a shady spot and watching him defecate without picking it up and sneering at me when I give you the stink eye. Encouraging your dog to run into the bushes to relieve himself…out of sight, out of mind. No excuse for not paying attention to your pup laying a trail of droppings as he walks like the elephant in the parade. No excuse for kicking sand over your dog’s dung, not 25 feet away from the supply of poop bags the town puts out for you to use.

What does this have to do with being a dog person? Not much, I just like to think we should all want to be good, civil dog people. My son is currently visiting Paris and he told me I was right when I half-kiddingly included “watch where you step, Parisians don’t clean up after their dogs” in my tips to traveling in France.

C’mon Greenwich dog owners, we can do better than the French.

David Rafferty is a Greenwich resident.