Walking up the trail, a golden retriever dashed down the hill towards Simon and Shawnee, tails wagging boisterously. Next came the “doggie hello” – as the dogs circled each other, and sniffed the hind quarters. Before I knew it, a labrador retriever and a poodle had joined the mix. It felt like a giant doggie soiree, with dogs circling, chasing one another, seeming to have the play date of their lives.
Dogs and mountains go together, and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado are like one giant doggy candy store, with miles of trails and acres of forests to explore. Of course, where there are dogs, there is poop. And as any good dog owner knows, while hiking on public lands, the proper thing to do is to bring poop bags and pick up after your dog.
The City of Boulder even asks dog owners to attend training about hiking with your dog in order to acquire the coveted “green tag”. A “green tag” allows you to have your dog off leash under voice control. Part of the training emphasized the importance of picking up poop, with the trainer citing statistics of how dog poop pollutes the water supply. (Talk about a guilt trip!)
As I hike the Forest Service and Open Space trails around Boulder and Nederland, I notice doggy bag dispensers placed strategically along the way. Great! Now, people have no reason to pick up as they hike with Fido. But then a strange thing occurs as I hike further up the trail — brightly colored blue or green bags tied ever so neatly along the side of the trail. First on one side, then the next.
Seems many dog owners have down pat step one of picking up doggy poop, but they’ve forgotten step two — dispose of said poop in trash receptacle. Rather than carrying the poop bags with them, they simply drop them by the side of the trail, hoping the “poop fairy” will come along at the end of the day picking up all the poop bags for them.
Admittedly, it’s not the most pleasant thing to carry a sack of dog poop with you as you hike. It’s pretty smelly. But we’ve come up with a creative solution. Since we use harnesses for both our dogs, we have Simon and Shawnee carry their own poop. This works particularly well with the newspaper bags which have lots of extra plastic to tie with. Surprisingly, they don’t seem to be bothered at all by toting their own poops on top of their backs!
We love dogs as much as anyone, but being a responsible dog owner makes hiking more fun for everyone. We don’t want people who hike on the trails to resent our dogs, but to embrace them. Just remember, there is no poop fairy!