Walking the Dog

One spring morning I was walking up Mass Ave in DC and I saw absolutely nothing unusual. Just a man out walking his dog in a triangular shaped grass park with a plastic bag in one hand and the dog’s leash held firmly in the other. The plastic baggies are used to retrieve anything the dog might deposit while on the walk. Being a country boy, this was eye opening news to me. My mind wandered to a recent staff meeting when colleague, who recently acquired a puppy, spoke of puppy diapers and the “clean-up” when returning to his apartment. More eye opening news for this country boy. Our manager chuckled. The colleague smiled and admitted that although it sounds disgusting, he doesn’t mind it at all. Our manager nodded and commented that that’ll happen when you start loving them.

My mind continued to wander, as it often does, taking me on this walk and, for the life of me, I cannot remember what we thought were meeting about…

Walking the Dog

by ric booth

Irritated. Frustrated. Annoyed.
The paleontologist struggles
to focus his nuclear powered antimatter
microscope on the fossilized remains
of a distant walk.
If not for the weathered ridges
those obscuring contours rippling
unimpeded, uninvited, so unwanted
throughout the mess,
he would see
the last meal more clearly…

Out walking the dog early
one morning
in a patch of green
located somewhere in between
the alabasters gleam
surrounded by cold steel and asphalt
cracked concrete
with towering glass walls
there reflecting on it all
a homeless man sits shaking
a used paper cappuccino
cup of some change
as the aroma of last night’s meal rises
fermenting with others in the apartment dumpster
stirring carbon emissions, dog feces, mocha lattes
assaulting olfactory nerves
unimpeded, uninvited, so unwanted
a plastic bag in hand
ready to retrieve any warm moist
pile of excretions
the dog always delivers
should be repulsed, revolted
yet loving the dog
loving this time together
smiling, stooping, bending
grasping the fresh waste
turning the steaming plastic bag
inside out, sealing deliberately carefully…
as the dog pulls and fights
to get away
must have some
garbage out in the street
beckoning the dog
who has long since forgotten
about the one with him
pulling violently, the dog is free
to die. alone. in the street
clinging to someone else’s garbage
racing at last
his eye on the rotting prize
yesterday’s filth
today’s treasure
tires squeal
horns scream
still running
unimpeded, uninvited, so unwanted
almost there
far from the patch of green…The master watching
and not discarding but purposefully placing
the warm plastic sealed treasure in the trash
to be picked up later and hauled to some landfill
in the beautiful countryside
with too few votes to stop it
so some distant, far off
emotionally-detached future paleontologist
in year 8 or 9 thousand and yes,
some change,
can painstakingly unearth
perfectly petrified puppy poop
and examine the lumpy stool stone
for traces of scraps from last night’s meal
perfectly preserved in digested dung.

The master moving from the patch of green
stepping down into the tar and gravel wasteland
calmly, with neither haste nor hesitation
deliberately watchful of each moment passing by
the first car with burning melting
screaming tires and tar
gravel ripping and tearing
he reaches, nudging the wheel ever so slightly
setting its course not wanting it
to miss
the intended target
as the second car launches
gracefully flying
unimpeded, uninvited, so unwanted
the master continues into
the midst of the mess
reaching up, he gently touches the jagged
broken steel and glass edges
of the gracefully flying car
not wanting any of it
to miss
the intended target…The dog
at his end, his prize
completely and utterly
disappointed with
a paper wrapper, tossed aside
a counterfeit, a decoy
the sausage muffin aroma
lingers there
with the dog
in the middle of the street
alone in his thoughts
missing the sausage of his dreams
while the sun is blotted out
by walls of radial steel belted rubber
eager to consume him
while he whimpers over losing something
he never really had in the first place…

The dog turns
now facing
the approaching ensemble
high-speed broken, jagged, steel and glass
all marching toward him,
set off by him
yet orchestrated by him not
and at some level the dog knows
he remembers
the master
turning, seeking,
the small patch of green
where is he?
his head drops
It is too late
the dog
his name
and sees
crawling there in the street
between the dog and death
the master
unimpeded, uninvited, so unwanted
just glad to have this time
the master’s face
now contorted
rapt somewhere between
exquisite unimaginable joy
and complete excruciating pain
as tires crush his feet
and the high-speed shards of steel and glass
rip open his back
the back of the intended target
just as the master planned
muting the world
the strings and brass horns strike up
in time with the jingle of change
in the homeless man’s used cappuccino cup
as angels sing out praises
the dog can only watch
from this front row seat
as his death plays out
on the master
in perfect 3-part harmony…

The paleontologist’s near-sighted colleague growled
“You want me to sand off those ridges?”
as the distant, far-removed,
and usually reserved
future paleontologist
with tears blurring his new found clarity
the magnificent unmagnified image
retraces a walk long-ago
focused now on, not past, but there all along
the contoured ridges overlaying
traces of the master’s last supper
a meal shared with dogs
not weathered ridges after all
not concealing
but revealing
a distinctive fingerprint
pressed through a plastic bag
perfectly preserving perfection
even in the very waste of this mess
Trembling, the paleontologist barks back,
“He was here! The master was here!
Among us.”


39 Responses

  1. 🙂

    Good read! Thank you!

  2. To think that a dull and boring commute into the district day-after-day could lead to such inspiration … my similar commute never led to similar creativity!

    I remember the staff meeting and the diaper story… my impression was not city vs. country … but rather parents vs. non-parents!

    I remember thinking that non-parental people want to turn their pets into children. Parental people, like me, often enjoy the fact that their pets are NOT children … and thus do not have homework or other teenage issues.

    I’ll try NOT to think of this poem when I walk my golden retreivers tonight … but I will think of the poet!


  3. Terri: HAHAHA!! Enjoy your walk! I certainly am enjoying mine!

  4. There is so much here that I’m sure I didn’t even begin to ‘get it’ all!

    I am a hopeless dog lover, so could identify with the heart that would stand between one and death. I guess that’s a good thing, though not wise (for the sake of a dog anyway) in real life.

    Since we don’t have kids I’ve made comparisons of someone coming to torture and kill my dog, and wonder if I could allow it for the sake of saving someone else. Sad to say, if I had the power to choose, I’m afraid my feelings would dictate saying ‘no’.

    I’d be a basket case if I had to live under the Old Law where animals had to be sacrificed for my (or anyone else’s) sin.

    But with your analogy, God sacrificed Himself for the ‘wild dogs’ who run from Him, and even turn to take His life, as well as the ones who would finally realize what He had saved them from.

    I hope I’m the latter, though the ‘running from’, and ‘turning on’ is always an option in our sinful nature.

    Thanks for sharing your insights. I hope to come back to consider more in this piece.

    ‘Glad you’re better, and ‘hope the Lord ministered to you in a special way even during your illness.


  5. Thanks D. It is good to feel healthy again. It isn’t often I spend 4 days doing absolutely nothing… perhaps I was overdue.

  6. How opportune. My mom is down with a broken pelvis and my dad is too teeter-tottery so I have been waking, grocery bag in hand, their HUGE sweet Golden Retriever, Casey. Did I say huge? I am considering the Hefty Cinch Sac.

    Anyway – somehow this poem of yours made sense to me (although I am sure it is in some way sacrilegious). But then again, this is why I have cats. Got any cat poems?

  7. Walkng, not waking. I don’t sleep with a bag. Oops!

  8. Christian: “made sense to me” and “in some way sacrilegious”… I’ll have to keep track of this, ahhh… connection. Thanks for the feedback. Sorry to hear you’re the retriever’s retriever.

  9. Hey, I forgot to mention – I really liked the poem. (Although I don’t quite ‘get it’, at least not all of it. Maybe that’s OK?

  10. HAHA… Its totally cool that you enjoy my poems. I think that is first and foremost in any of my attempts… will anyone like it?? Beyond that its all gravy.

  11. Ric, I saw this in a movie once….I thought it was part of the comedy….this really happens???? I am way to country girl to even comprehend such a thing…..Not only do I think I will never be ready for the “real world”, I doubt they’re ready for me to there as well…. 😆

    Waiting for next poem…..

  12. 1godsgal: This (plastic baggie-city dog walking) REALLY happens. All the time in the cities AND in the burbs.

  13. Skubelon happens. I’m living proof.

  14. This has to be the most perplexing comment I’ve received.

    Skubelon? Is that a word?

  15. As Brent would say “Holy Crap!” it”s in Philippians, dude.

    Ric, are you familiar with , “Dog’s Death” by John Updike?


  16. I’ve read Philippians (a couple of times). I’ll check it again. Is it Greek?

    Thanks for the Dog’s Death link… that was so sad. Had not read it before.

  17. You betcha.

    What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish , that I may gain Christ (NIV)

    The word rubbish is used in place of the Greek “skubala” which literally means “shit” (sorry). Not trash, not rubbish, not feces but a strong eipithen such as we use the word today. Isn’t it shocking how an early ‘Christian’ would use bad words like that? Isn’t it a shame how we have ‘cleaned’ up Paul’ rhetoric for sensitive ears?

  18. Oh, one more thing about all this skubela. Paul uses this shocking word to make a point against legalistic behavior. It is ironic that he is addressing the very thing that we do when we ‘sanitize’ his message and our speech.

  19. Thanks Christian. Badguy has mentioned this to me as well. (He probably gave me the same reference too) … And yes, the irony is ahh… poetic?

  20. I’ll have to work skubela into my next draft 😀

  21. After bonding over skubala I think it’s about time for that get together at Ram’s Head. I’m finally home for a couple weeks – so somebody throw out some dates, or evenings that work better. Christian suggested Ram’s head at Savage Mill.

  22. Oh, and first round’s on me.

  23. You start with the dates. But…Friday nights I am usually working at the Castle.

  24. Next Saturday Night? April 5th?

  25. April the 5th? Might just work. Perhaps BuddyO will be in town.

    Is this to be a boy’s night out or are our significant others invited as well? I may have mentioned that I prefer the company of women over that of men (socially, anyway). No offense, fellas.

  26. The 5th works for me. My wife likes beer too, so she’d like to come as well.

  27. I’m thinking Saturday it is. Shall we say sevenish?

  28. Cool. 7. ish. I guess I should let Patti know… before 6ish next Saturday.

  29. You are very wise, grasshopper.

    Seven it is – I’ll put it on our calendar.

    First round will be Oregon beer and we’ll toast our Northwestern compatriots!

  30. I have taken the liberty of inviting my good friend Buddy O and his beautiful wife KathySo. They practically live in Savage.

    Does Oregonian beer taste like coffee? Or dry Riesling?

  31. Good question… I guess we’ll find out.

  32. i am SO jealous! have fun guys. without me and b. yes. go ahead. fine.

  33. I feel so much better about this now that we have your blessing.

    “Fine” is a four letter word btw.

  34. “Fine” is a four letter word btw.”

    yes. it’s a very nice one (she says while gritting her teeth)


  35. Hahahaha!! Well, fine then!

  36. Oh, we’re not good enough for Tam and Brent, are we? Snobs!

  37. […] read a story about dog poop. I got a few yucks and teary eyes. Well, mine anyways. My […]

  38. it really means “shit”????


    i wish they wouldve kept that in there. wouldnt that cause heads to spin???

  39. Yes it really means shit. Tony Campolo’s comment was no doubt lifting that scripture as a source.

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