Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

OPINIONSocietyApril 30, 2024

If you love a dog, you must also love disposing of its shit

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Protesting the removal of bins by leaving piles of your dog’s shit for others to deal with doesn’t make you a hero – it’s precious and entitled behaviour. 

You haven’t truly lived until you’ve stood on the shoreline of Auckland’s Cheltenham Beach, desperately trying to scoop increasingly liquid dog shit into a bag.

The experience is only enhanced when 50 people are watching in horror, equal parts disgusted at your debasement – and expectant, waiting to judge lest the free-spirited shit be taken out to sea upon a gentle but perilously close wave.

Poo-scooping on the shore is just one of the many shit-filled adventures you’ll have with a dog. Maybe you’ll have a dog that likes to eat rope and requires manual assistance when that rope doesn’t vacate its arse naturally. Every dog I’ve loved has had an issue with their anal glands. Puppies will spend the first few months of their lives pooing inside. You scrub it from the carpet with one hand and fend the dog off with the other in a bid to stop them from trying to eat it. You pat him after and tell him he is still a good boy. 

Dogs love shit, are often very proud of their own, and have no real sense of enduring shame. Your job is to remove and dispose of the shit for the sake of the species that domesticated the dog but is less inclined to enjoy the shit as much as the dog does. 

Humans love dogs, and loving a dog involves a fast descent into getting comfortable with that which has previously disgusted you. It also involves taking responsibility for all that entails. 

Some residents of certain suburbs in Auckland, however, have recently decided that love has limits and responsibility ends when disposing of their own dog’s poo personally inconveniences them. 

Protesting the council’s removal of rubbish bins across the city, people have been dumping bags of their precious dogs’ shit where the bins once were. Piles have been found near a pathway leading down to the Ōrākei Basin and in Point Chevalier’s Meola Reef dog park. The bin people now have to walk to, to drop off their poo bags at the Ōrākei Basin (for the low cost of nothing), was described as not far away” from the site of the old bin.

Auckland Council has been removing bins in an effort to save money. They put out a press release about it and everything. There have also been many press releases and stories about councils across New Zealand being short on cash. They’re not quite broke as shit but are facing challenging times as they attempt to fund a back-book of necessary and overdue infrastructure investment while maintaining that which ratepayers enjoy and demand. 

Finding a few million in savings by reducing the number of rubbish bins across the city is just one example of the fiscal tradeoffs being made. There’s perhaps a hope that people will detect a whiff of the long-term greater good by accepting just a touch of individual responsibility now. Deal with your own rubbish and dog shit today, and enjoy free access to the lovely parks where you walk your dogs for a few more tomorrows yet.

Dream on Auckland Council. Loads of public bins aren’t common or expected everywhere, but they’re bloody well expected here, where apparently paying rates equates to buying blinkers to hide from the reality of your own choices.

In Tokyo, Japan, public bins were removed after a series of chemical weapon attacks on the subway system in 1995. Residents were forced to think about what they did with their rubbish and have a mindful attitude towards litter, with personal responsibility reigning over individual entitlement. Bins have slowly returned in Tokyo, but “your rubbish, your problem” seems to have stuck.

Here, we have piles of shit bags left behind by dog owners in some of our most lovely natural environments. Coverage of the bin removals describes the clutching of “putrid sacks of faeces” as if the clutching of sacks is a form of cruel and coercive torture inflicted on dog owners by an unknown force.

Despite knowing that sacks of faeces are part and parcel of having a dog, just as bankrupting your family to pay to fix its leg is, some people still think that free and abundant council-funded rubbish bins are not a handy convenience but a god-given right. In 2024, not having to think about where waste and rubbish goes is an indulgence. The strongest argument for removing public bins is that it forces people to think about where all that rubbish and waste goes. Unfortunately for the rate-paying dog owners of our leafy suburbs, that includes the shit that drops out of the arse of the dog you chose to have.

If you’re already disgusted by the thought of having to carry your dog’s poo slightly further to the next bin, brace yourself. If a dog poos outdoors in Tokyo, owners are expected to carry it home and flush it down the toilet. Driving home? Buy a magnetised dog poo bag so it can be stuck to the outside of your car. 

The Auckland dog owners currently leaving piles of dog poo behind for a council employee or contractor to deal with could take a leaf out of Tokyo’s book. They might find they haven’t truly lived until they’ve driven home along a busy Auckland road with a bag of crap flapping in the wind, smug in the knowledge that they haven’t made their dog’s shit someone else’s problem. 

Keep going!