The following was in yesterday's New York Daily News:
New York Daily News, Originally published on March 1, 2007
It's much a-'doo' about droppings
by Denis Hamill
Talk about kicking up a stink.
Last week, I wrote here about being forced out of Crocheron Park twice because of a plethora of dog crap on the meadows and ball fields. I complained that this was probably a direct result of the insane new law permitting dogs to run free through our city parks from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
I'm actually happy for the poor dogs that are forced to live in a cramped city of 8 million people. After being imprisoned in small apartments, sometimes chained in basements or on back porches, the poor animals need to answer the call of the wild. They need to run free. And when they do, they usually relieve themselves.
The problem is that some of the selfish dog owners don't clean up after them.
Don't blame the poor dogs. Blame the dirty people.
Because when a father like me takes his little kid to the park to toss around a football, as I did on two different occasions recently, my son stepped in dog poop.
Once, the ball rolled in it. Both times I had to take my kid home from a public park created for people because of the droppings of domesticated animals.
That, in a word, stinks.
I wrote a column knocking irresponsible dog owners. Not dogs. And the spit hit the fan. Everyone in this business knows that you can write about war, pedophilia, rape, murder, racism, nuclear brinksmanship, political corruption, terrorism and even Britney Spears' haircut and you will get a feisty but civilized discourse with intelligent readers.
But write about dog crap and you get more mail than Santa Claus, and very little of it nice. Or sane.
Someone at the Daily News told me a story about when a reporter and a photographer flew to South America some 20-odd years ago to cover a mammoth mudslide caused by a volcanic eruption.
Entire villages were buried in mud and rubble. Thousands of people died. The team filed wrenching stories and heartbreaking photos detailing every conceivable permutation of human misery. Families lost. Children buried. Wailing mothers.
The response from readers was sad but measured.
Then photographer John Roca snapped a photo of a dog wandering alone in the mud and the reporter filed a story about the animals affected by the earthquake and the phones at the city desk lit up like the Manhattan skyline. Stop the presses!
My mail last week steamed with hate. Muffet Jones wrote, ". . .Your rant against dogs in parks is circulating [on] the Internet. You are a very poor writer and it's doubly unfortunate that you have reproduced." Gary Kaskel also attacked my kid, "Sorry your yuppie spawn got dog doody on him. Let's all call the Centers for Disease Control!"
"Spawn" I'll take on the chin. But "yuppie" is a bitin' word!
Someone else suggested if I didn't like dogs in the city parks, I should move to North Dakota.
Huh? I was certain this was a gag campaign orchestrated by some new comedy team with a name like Dung and Dunger.
But these people were dead serious.
I also received many letters agreeing with me and a polite note from Parks Department spokesman Warner Johnston who said he'd read my column and that they'd inspected the lawns of Crocheron Park for K-9 waste and couldn't find any, "although we did find a lot of goose droppings."
This unscientific, bureaucratic CYA comment soon ricocheted around the dogosphere and was swallowed as dogma.
Soon everyone with an incontinent pooch and a computer mouse was an accredited dungologist and e-mailing me, insisting my kid stepped in goose goop and that I was a dog hater. Which I'm not.
One editor e-mailed me that his divorce lawyer, "a dog owner who uses Prospect Park, just called me full of good cheer to say that the Parks Department confirmed that the poop you wrote about was from Canadian geese."
The Parks Dept. confirmed nothing! They have no idea what my kid stepped in. I do. (Excuse the pun.)
But now Dogland Security has even ID'ed the nationality of the poop perps! The rabid right-wingers were right about that porous Canadian border!
Look, I worked on a farm in Ireland as a teenager, driving cattle to and from pasture with a magnificent cattle dog, and later cleaning the waste out of the dairy, horse barn, chicken coops.
I grew up on the top floor of a Brooklyn tenement where Babe Caputo kept a pigeon coop on the roof and so I know from stinking experience about animal droppings.
Even when droppings come from a large goose, and factoring in that they turn from green to brown with age, they do not remotely resemble hound mounds.
And I have covered enough political campaigns in my career to differentiate between the by-products of bulls, horses, dogs and geese. What my kid stepped in at Crocheron Park, twice, was dog crap.