I just returned from a walk to one of my favorite places in Hood River — Waterfront Park. As is usually the case on a sunny weekend, the park was being well used by athletes, parents, children and dog owners. I was enjoying the blue sky, the light breeze, and the noise of kids playing on the play structures when some things green caught my eye. These green things, lined up along the path’s edge and gleaming in the sun, were not one of the native plants that have been planted along the river. Rather, they were poop bags, full of dog feces and left for the rest of us to “enjoy.” I shook my head, left behind the abandoned bags, and continued on my walk.
When I reached the gravel road leading to the Hook, I noticed another dog owner walking along behind her unleashed dog, fastidiously picking up her pet’s droppings in several green bags … and tossing the filled bags onto the ground, already littered with still another discarded sack of dung. I stopped her and asked, “Are you planning on picking up those bags and putting them in the garbage can?” to which she replied that she was helping out the park by making sure her dog’s poop was inside a bag, and thus unable to contaminate the park with E-coli. When I asked her again if she planned on picking them up, she said, “I have a dog and only two hands.” She also explained that the maintenance guys, personal acquaintances of hers, would be by Monday to clean up. I shook my head, picked up all four bags full of feces, and carried them to the garbage can on the west end of the park.
On my return walk eastward, I spotted her again, once again filling another green bag with her dog’s poop and leaving it on the side of the path. By this point steam was beginning to pour from my ears. I picked up her dog’s bag, and a few yards later on grabbed another set of four full bags left by earlier visitors. As I walked away, my hands full of feces, I heard her yell at me, “You missed one!”
Every day, I work at modeling for my students how to be kind, safe, respectful and responsible. We spend hours practicing these skills, and we work to teach tolerance, not rudeness, to our young friends.
At Waterfront Park, some visitors need a refresher course in these skills.
Peggy Dills Kelter of Hood River teaches at Mid Valley Elementary and is a Hood River News columnist.