You came here to read about dogs, not to eaves-drop on a tender moment I recently experienced with my patient wife. But play along for a paragraph or two. I promise there are dogs herein.
We were walking hand-in-hand at dusk. Walking, as it happened, along a beautiful sidewalk called Zattere in the world’s most beautiful city, Venice, Italy. On one side of the walk, historic churches and old mansions. On the other side, the Outer Canal that separates the central part of Venice from the island of Giudecca. In the gathering darkness, a few faint lamps began to assert themselves. We were on our way to another one of those magnificent dinners that all the restaurants in Venice seem to delight in serving.
That was the tender moment. And now here’s the reason it only lasted a moment: My wife’s eagle eye spotted yet another impressive deposit on the large cobblestones. Her voice sounded out as loud and clear as that of a lookout on the crow’s nest of an old merchant schooner: “DOGGIE DOOOoooo!”
Yes, Venice is beautiful. Yes, Venice is romantic. And yes, you’d better watch where you step, because Venice is littered with piles of dog poop. Like all civilized people everywhere, Venetians love their dogs and proudly lead them around on their daily pedestrian errands. Unlike other dog owners, however, Venetians have nowhere to curb their pets. A single cbig customerentimeter off the sidewalk puts one at risk of a four-foot drop into a canal full of quite unsavory water. There is simply no place for a self-respecting dog to answer a call of nature. It’s right out there on the sidewalk or nowhere at all.
I know I should have been thinking about the big bronze horses high in the balcony of St. Mark’s Basilica. Or the marvelous craftsmen making artworks from molten glass over on the island of Murano. Or the staggering collection of Venetian paintings in the Galleria Accademia. But I kept thinking about the complications of dog ownership in Venice.
For instance, I believe there are some strictly enforced laws against dumping garbage in the canals. Which means that a super-fastidious owner with a little shovel couldn’t just scoop up and fling the offending material into the canal. And I can’t recall seeing anything like a fountain or a hose connection anywhere in Venice. I’m sure they’re around, but I didn’t see any.
And here’s the biggest mystery of all: Even though there was no shortage of freshly minted poop piles, I never saw any old, dried up doogie doo. Like the shoemaker’s elves, mythical creatures must come along in the wee hours of the morning and somehow attend to the situation. Venice is fraught with mystery!
Anyhow, I finally came up with my personal submission for the best way to deal with the end products of canine metabolism. I think every dog owner should get a big bundle of those long, slender bamboo skewers they sell in Asian grocery stores, and a good supply of day-glo tinted stick-up notes. It wouldn’t take more than a quarter of an hour to assemble a hundred or so warning flags.
Then, when Fido decorates a canalside walk, the owner can stick a warning flag in the deposit to prevent tourists from stepping in it.
Just ask me. I’m full of helpful suggestions. Next week I may even figure out how to enjoy a $100 dinner in a fancy restaurant in Paris while staring into the eyes of a German Shepherd sitting beneath the neighboring table.
Dick Molay is a free-lance advertising and television writer in Temple Terrace, Florida.