Twice a day on the school run, I drive past the local oval. Seeing the dogs of all shapes and sizes playing on the grass always makes me smile.
Twice a week I return to the oval in the evening for my son’s footy training. At this time of night the dogs and their owners have all gone home. They are replaced by 26 eleven year olds practising their kicking, marking and tackling.
There is only one problem.
While the dogs of all shapes and sizes are nowhere in sight, there is still plenty of evidence of their existence.
You guessed it.
Piles of poo (of all shapes and sizes) are dotted around the grass, long after the dogs have left.
Just plenty of poo.
And 26 eleven year olds.
Wearing footy boots.
The astute among you can see where this is going, can’t you?
For those who are unaware, footy training at any age almost certainly begins with a lap of the oval. It is generally accepted that the team will run together as a close group around the boundary of the grass.
Unfortunately, this also seems to be the preferred location for our aforementioned furry friends to empty their bowels. Sometimes in large piles, sometimes in small pellets of partially digested “Pal” scattered over several metres.
By the time the first stride has been taken, we have reached a foregone conclusion.
These kids are running into a shitstorm of epic proportions.
The sprigs on the bottom of their boots pick up poo more efficiently than children pick up germs from play centres. This poo is then launched up into the air, either flicking up the child’s back or – given their close proximity to one another – onto the chest of the child running behind them. If they are really lucky – or it was an exceptionally large dog – they might cop a bit of digested dog food in the face.
Yes I am being a bit facetious.
Just a bit of humorous banter.
But this is the point where “shit gets real”. Literally.
You see, once training is over, those 26 kids – tired after a full day of school and then footy – hop into their parents’ cars for the drive home.
And each of them brings a little reminder of those happy, frolicking dogs home with them.
I perhaps shouldn’t speak for all 26 families here, but personally, this is where I lose my shit.
Because those – somewhat smelly – reminders embed themselves on the carpet of the car, on the car seat, on my front porch, down the hallway, through the kitchen and into the laundry.
It is then that I have the delightful task of removing all traces of said smelly dog poo from my car, my porch, the floor of my house, as well as my son’s clothes and boots.
Twice a week.
For the entire footy season.
This is absolutely a task I relish doing while trying to simultaneously cook dinner, supervise homework, baths and bedtime.
I am absolutely not cursing the irresponsible, lazy dog owners as I spend my non-existent spare time cleaning up after their dog, nor am I thinking up scenarios in my head where I confront them with every single swear word I know, and even some that I don’t.
I mean, if you were to calculate the extra, unnecessary time it takes me to clean up the mess left behind by somebody else’s dog, then multiply that by the 25 other families who have to do the same thing (twice a week, for an entire footy season), the result is mind boggling.
Especially when it takes the actual owner of the dog no more than 30 seconds to pick it up themselves immediately after the event. And I’m being generous: I have a very large dog who does even larger poos and I can pick up a steaming pile of poo in under 10 seconds on a good day.
Trust me, I know my shit.
To those dog owners who can’t see what all of the fuss is about: Yes, I could absolutely ensure my child takes his muddy, shitty boots off before getting into the car. I could even bring a change of clothes, to safeguard my car seats from any random smears of canine excrement being transferred from his training guernsey onto the fabric of my car seat.
But you know what? Sometimes it is raining. And freezing cold. And dark. And my eleven year old son is soaking wet and just wants to hop into a warm car and get home.
Alternatively, rather than me (and 25 other parents) spending an extra 10 minutes after training disrobing and reclothing our children, perhaps you could just bend over and pick up your dog’s shit.
A thirty second action that could save the rest of us so much time and aggro.
So, each day on the school run I will still smile at the playful frolicking of the dogs – big and small – on the oval. But if I see one of them start to assume the squatting position, know that I will be watching like a hawk to ensure that you squat too to pick it up.
If you don’t, you can fully expect this crazy footy mum to stop my car and come after you with plenty more choice language than I have used in this piece.
For the sake of our sanity, and our kids, and our washing machines, please, please do the right thing.
And for those who do. Thank you. Seeing your dogs running freely really brings me joy. I hope that seeing the smile on our children’s faces running on the oval, kicking the ball and getting muddy (sans shit) brings you joy too.