Saturday, October 8, 2011

Keepin' it Clean Part II. Poop et Scoop? Mais Non!

We know it was you!

It's one of those great French mysteries and it has not escaped the notice of anyone visiting France, especially for the first time.

No, it's not how the French eat croissants for breakfast and meat smothered in heavy sauces for dinner but still remain thin.  No, it's more mysterious than that.  It's why they leave dog poop everywhere.  Yes, dear readers, poop. As you can see,  Auntie is not afraid to tackle the big, stinky issues.
Imagine if you will, a fine and sunny day.  You decide to take a walk to look around and maybe do a bit of shopping.  One minute you're enjoying the view, merrily skipping along and then the next minute, SPLAT, SQUISH and PEW!  Your pretty shoe is covered in stinky brown dog poop.  So much for your good mood.

Everywhere you go in France it seems, you have to keep one eye on the ground at all times.  After a while it becomes a reflex but if you've just returned from a trip from somewhere where there's no dog poop and you're out of practice it's particularly perilous.  Trust Auntie on this.  Don't ask.

Free Poop bags!
For whatever reason, a lot of people in France own dogs and many of them love to leave their dog's poop wherever they want.  According to the Société Protectrice des Animaux,  the French own about 8.8 million dogs who each poop an average of 220 pounds a year each.  Uncle Jim did some calculations for me: annually, these 8.8 million dogs produce 19 million pounds of poop and that's enough to fill all the galleries in the Louvre almost 5 feet deep with poop.  That's high enough to reach the Mona Lisa's chin!

In Menton the poop situation is especially grim.  I once read in a guide book that half the residents of Menton were seniors, the other half were poodles and that's not so far from the truth!  In fact, there is such a poop problem in Menton that they have a special fleet of motorcycles that are customized for sucking up dog poop.  We call them the "Poop Patrol."

Here's how they work.  When a Poop Patroller spots dog poop, he pulls over, lifts a long, wide tube that's attached to a reservoir at the back of his motorcycle and places it on top of the poop.  After a few seconds, there's a grinding noise, a sucking noise, a bubbling noise, et voila! The poop is now safely contained in the reservoir and off he goes to the next pile of poop.   You always know when they've been on the job.  All that's left of the poop is a perfumed soap bubble.

"Woof!  Clean up for me - I can't do it for you."

Poop isn't just stinky and annoying but it's dangerous too.  One gram can contain 23 million fecal E.coli bacteria and numerous deadly pathogens such as campylobacter that can be passed on to humans.  It's enough to make you stay indoors.

Despite all the signs and fines and free poop bags, many French dog owners continue to leave poop all over the place and we'll never know what goes on in the minds of those knuckle-headed dog owners.  In the meantime Uncle Jim and I and our friends all take our shoes off at the front door, just to be sure.

Thank goodness the French don't keep pet horses!


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