I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Alaska is full of stunningly beautiful spots to take a dump.
Seriously. I saw my first Northern Lights through an outhouse vent 60 miles upriver from Willow; it was a profoundly moving experience.
So I don’t really fault Juneau’s dog population for voiding its bowels pretty much everywhere in town. The local scenery inspires me, too.
But I don’t just go “off pants” and do my dirty work wherever I please while someone tosses me a ratty old tennis ball. That would be gross, not to mention illegal, much like failure to clean up after your dog, a finable offense rarely, if ever, enforced. Really, the police department would need to create a special task force, and what officer would take that assignment? Talk about s--- detail.
The dog “issue” becomes especially noticeable this time of year, when spring thaw uncovers a long winter of uncollected droppings. Before the tulips sprout, stink blossoms come into bloom: out the road, in the valley, downtown. I saw an especially impressive specimen on the sidewalk outside the governor’s mansion the other day — perhaps the proud work of Alaska’s state dog, the malamute?
Obviously, there are many conscientious dog owners. Their dedication to sustainable poop management serves as a shining, squishy example to all. Personally, if I’m going to devote that much attention to another living thing’s digestive process, I’d like that living thing to return the favor some day. That’s why I had kids.
Still, it’s a scatological minefield out there, and someone’s to blame for all the IEDs (Icky Excrement Drifts). As far as I can see, there are only two possible culprits: a) roving packs of feral dogs or b) lazy people.
Hm. I’ll go with b.
Here’s what I don’t understand. Now, I, too, am lazy, and I mean haven’t-shaved-in-ten-years lazy. But when both my kids were younger, I routinely changed “hot” diapers on beaches, in forests, at cabins, on open skiffs, in car hatchbacks (talk about “tailgating”) and — my personal favorite — atop snow-packed picnic tables while cross-country skiing at the glacier. If I did that, then why can’t you — and you know who you are — toss a little baggie in a trash can? There’s not even any wiping involved. Or butt cream.
Of course, I understand certain things are part and parcel of living in Alaska. For instance, my windshield will always be cracked and my front fender dented no matter how many times I replace them.
However, a turd-littered landscape shouldn’t be something we accept.
It may sound funny but it’s no laughing matter: dog poop poses a legitimate public health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when left to simply “wash away”— in public spaces and private yards, alike — canine feces transfers a host of disease-causing parasites to the soil; they can linger for years. In fact, the EPA classifies it as a pollutant on par with motor oil. Although who knows, the Trump administration may repeal that, too.
Normally I love to complain without offering solutions, but in this instance, I’d rather light a flaming bag of dog poop than curse the darkness. After all, when life hands you turds, you make lemonade (only after thoroughly washing your hands). In other words, don’t let sleeping dogs lie, or crouch down and shudder like when they’re about to lay one down.
Now stay with me, here …
It’s no secret both the State of Alaska and City and Borough of Juneau face serious fiscal challenges. And with taxes falling far below expectations, at least thus far, retail marijuana, alone, won’t solve them. By the way, come on, Alaska — spark up! Throw on some Pink Floyd and stimulate the economy, already.
Anyway, experts agree, the path toward financial stability involves exploring fresh ideas for growing the public fisc. Well, there’s an alternate revenue stream right beneath our feet — literally (which reminds me, I better hose down my Bogs before I bring them back inside the house).
Dog poop represents an abundant, virtually untapped resource — and most importantly, completely renewable (as long as the barge-loads of Eukanuba® keep coming).
I’m telling you, it’s brown gold and there are piles of it everywhere. The rest is simply a matter of marketing. I mean, the Lower 48 loves Alaska crap; I say give them what they want, in the truest sense.
To that end, I officially announce the re-launch of my blog, “Dog Turds of Alaska,” dogturdsofalaska.blogspot.com, which I originally started five years ago to celebrate the Great Alaskan Dog Turd in all its natural splendor.
And I need everybody’s help. Send me your dog poop photos — the more breathtaking the surroundings, the better. Fifty bucks to anyone who captures a turd in the same frame as a breaching orca.
Spread the word: “Dog Turds of Alaska” (dogturdsofalaska.blogspot.com). Let’s give the world a big, fat, juicy piece of the Last Frontier.
• “Slack Tide” appears every second and fourth Sunday in Neighbors. Follow Geoff Kirsch on twitter @geoffkirsch, on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.