Saturday, January 22, 2005

Classically Trained

Gird your loins for an onslaught: I went somewhere and did something. Thus I have a lot of words that need spewing. Maybe you should take it in small doses so as to avoid the possibility of stroke from lack of blood flow to the buns. Or loins.

Today I spent 7 hours volunteering for something you couldn't pay me enough to do. That is the riddle that is volunteering, I suppose. How else could you get a comfortable 42-year-old to go out to the indoor acreage that is the Expo Center to spend all day on a Saturday picking up dog poo and wiping up doggy pee while thousands of spectators look on (or more often look through or around)?

It is a yearly cross that I bear for the Southwest Washington Humane Society, as we are able to make a good amount of cash by being the clowns with the shovels for the annual Rose City Classic Dog Show.

Last year was my first year, and I spent the first hour or so looking around at the crowd, hoping not to see any acquaintances so I wouldn't have to explain that no, I haven't fallen on hard times and taken a part-time job scooping poop to pay the rent. Then I noticed that with the little pooper-scooper uniform on, no one was actually looking at my face. I was suddenly an expo appliance. Although a little harrumph-inducing at first, the realization that I was no longer a real person to these people, it was eventually quite freeing, and I could go about my job in peace, as if my fellow scoop troopers and I were the only people in the room - sort of like being in a parallel universe with the rest of the show-goers, yet invisible to the naked eye. I am reminded of a Star Trek episode where they met a race of beings that were invisible to the crew - all they could hear was a faint buzzing in their ear, like an insect - when in actuality, these beings were just operating at such a high speed that they could not be detected by the Enterprise crewmembers' slow eyes and brains. But I digress.

Actually, in a classic case of typo imitating life, my parking pass was for the Rose City Cluster. The coordination of the pooper-scoopering troops turned out to be a bit of a cluster this year, as the regular director-of-operations was unavoidably unavailable. That left a hapless substitute director who had no previous experience at making sure all areas of the cavernous, yet labyrinthine space were covered, with personnel that she did not know, as far as experience and expertise went (and yes, there is a little expertise involved, at least in performing for fussy dog trainers, uptight judges and stressed-out owners).

All worked out for the best, I suppose, although I was paired with Miss Eeyore. Mental picture: thick ankles and flat feet holding up a tall, soft, baby-fatty and slouchy body topped off with mousy hair, thick glasses, and a terminally pained expression. She was complaining about her feet before the first hour was up. I succeeded in being too busy to stick around her for most of the evening. I often wanted to slap her, but just smiled harder instead, and gave her suggestions on where she could go to be of more use (away from me, mostly).

The odd thing of it is, we are there because some show dog trainers don't feel it is particularly necessary to do the most basic training step of explaining to their dog that there is a right place and a wrong place to go doo-doo and pee-pee; something that is alien to real dog owners who live with their pets because they like them. Okay, maybe I'm being a bit harsh, but I mean really. It's incredible to see these perfectly formed dogs just lifting their legs willy-nilly because they don't know any better. It seems to me that this should be an automatic disqualifier, like biting the judge. If I wouldn't allow a dog in my house because of poor manners, why would I crown it king of all poodles?

With that said, yes, I did wipe up more than a few puddles of pee, but for the most part, I would say that the dogs were much more well behaved than the humans. What a bunch of clods. Let's put the fact that I nearly got trampled and/or run over by dog crates on wheels several times and focus on the floor. For every pee-pee, I must have picked up ten of the following: water bottles, Starbucks cups, french fries, programs, napkins, ice cream puddles, and/or dog hair clumps torn out of brushes and deposited on the floor. This in an exhibit hall where there were garbage cans strategically placed about every 20 feet.

So in the end, if I had to take one of them home, I would pick the poodle with the gaping hole in his training curriculum. Him I could fix. The human is probably, like most humans, untrainable after a certain age.


Dean said...

If I didn't have previous knowledge about how many dog shows you watch on TV, it would be a mystery to me why you continue to do that crap (no pun intended)...

piglet said...

Yes, I am an enigma. But remember, the TV dog shows are sanitized for your protection. No poopy, just pretty. Now you know better, so I am providing an educational service for you while making money for the Humane Society. I shall surely go to heaven now. Well, doggy heaven maybe.