Deal with Your Own Shit


Deal with Your Own Shit

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza



o you love Great Danes? I love Great Danes. I also love furry guys like Border Collies and St Bernards, and skinny dudes like Rajapalayam and Mudhol hounds. I love every kind of dog there is, including the streeties and Indies. But there’s one noble breed that by far outstrips them all: The Indian Dog Owner.

The Indian Dog Owner comes in all shapes and sizes too. Some of them wear Bata slippers, some Nike trainers, and some sport Fitbits. They campaign for animal rights and open their hearts and homes to their four-legged friends. They do it out of their (over)flowing milk of human kindness. They do it out of love. And we all know that love means never having to clean up when your dog proudly poops in a public place. 

When civic officials decided to start fining people who let their dogs dump on Mumbai’s Marine Drive in October last year, dog owners simply changed their route and went elsewhere, so their pets could continue to poop free-range, without limits. Indian Dog Owners are solution-oriented like that. In fact, as the recent case of a Gurgaon high-rise proves, the Indian Dog Owner would rather have their fellow citizens walk on a path fragrant with their pet’s poo, than dispose of it properly. Just dump the dump from the top floor, no biggie, no one will notice.

It’s bad enough that the Modi government wants to provide less work in rural areas under the MNREGA. Now if dog owners started cleaning their pooches’ poop, wouldn’t that deprive all those municipal sweepers of some good, honest work? A conscientious dog owner would never dream of snatching away someone else’s livelihood, especially since those municipal workers are most likely to be lower-class women.

There was a time when my mother would lose her temper twice every day – roughly the number of times per day she’d find a pile of dog poop steaming right outside her gate.

Even the woman in my building, who loves animals and actually runs a dog shelter, only cleans up her dog’s poop when she thinks someone’s looking. The thing is, you can’t really teach an old dog owner new tricks. Like whichever newfangled whatchamacallit contraption that the evil Scooping Lobby might present. (Some of them, they claim, are even designed now so you never have to bend.) Plus, it’s all just too expensive. After you’ve spent 35,000 for a pit bull on, who can afford 30 bucks for a packet of garbage bags?

There was a time when my mother would lose her temper twice every day – roughly the number of times per day she’d find a pile of dog poop steaming right outside her gate. She tried everything: writing to the neighbourhood association, leaving the gate open to shame the dog owners, even attempting several stakeouts to catch the culprits. It never worked. They all had the same MO: stroll by casually, perhaps talking on their phones, and look the other way while their pooches squatted and did some dolorous dumping.

A few days ago, I was walking down a lane near my house, when I stumbled upon an Indian Dog Owner screaming her head off. It was epic. Now, before I go further, I must give the disclaimer, I know her a bit. I’ve seen her walk her dog a few times. She belongs to the upper-middle class, and is probably in her early 30s. And whaddya know, a young pretty woman walking all by herself, is just too much for the neighbourhood men to handle. A local driver and a security guard had ganged up to attack the poor girl, asking her to “clean up” a pretty giant pile of fresh poop, even as she and her gentle Alsatian were trying to scamper away.

What’s a girl to do? This one resorted to the only weapon any of us have – our class privilege – and shouted back at those uncouth men in her best “memsahib-puts-the-servants-in-their-place” voice. “Who picks up their dog’s shit?” she screeched with admirable outrage. “Show me! Show me!”

Of course, my partner, who was out walking our dog with me – he’s a man, after all – had to go and spoil it all by suddenly chiming in: “Hey, I do!” And the idiot proceeded to proudly show her the garbage bag stuffed in his pocket.

As a fellow dog owner, trust me, we all have enough to do already. Looking after dogs is hard work, so hard that many of us have to employ others to do it for us. Where’s the fun in that, I hear you ask? Have you never heard of the old adage: Dog sharing is dog caring? Share the load, dude.

This is an updated version of a story published earlier.