A Canine Competitor in the Fertilizer Business

brown_sidewalk crack

2015-08-25 – Do your dogs have a pattern of where they will and will not poop? My dog Lefty does.

He rarely poops in the house and then only if we were detained and couldn’t get home to walk him. Even then, it is rare. If it happens and he can get to the basement (not always possible if the kitchen door is closed), he does it there—presumably because it is not part of his living space.

(Have you noticed that dogs are unable to open latched doors?)

If you think, then, that the entire outdoors is fair game, you are mistaken. Lefty never poops on pavement (except where forced to do so by ice and snow—even then, it’s rare). He generally does it on grass. In fact, he almost always does it on grass.

During the last week, however, I discovered a fairly large patch of grass that also seems to be off limits.

Before doing his duty, Lefty generally spends a fair amount of time sniffing around. It appears always like he’s looking for an ideal place. But I could never see any system to it. Was he looking for chemical signals from other dogs? Or other animals? (In our neighborhood, this could be squirrels, or bunnies, skunks, sparrows, robins, geese, or seagulls. Or humans.)

The patch that now seems off limits is our neighborhood park, which used to be a favorite area for him.

Earlier this summer, he began to shy away from the park. He does this every summer once the fourth of July fireworks start. The noise clearly scares him. But I can hear the noise of fireworks and, sometimes, he would balk at going into the park. Sometimes when this happens, even I can sense the residual sulfuric smell of fireworks. But this wore off as July waned. And when Lefty did go into the park at all, he was okay with using its grass as a toilet.

What happened maybe 10 days ago was that the park district spread some chemical on the grass. When I first walked into the park with Lefty after this, the smell made me cough (that’s how I discovered it). I got out of there as soon as possible. A few days later, after some serious downpours, I ventured in again. The smell was diminished, but still strong (less coughing). I found a park district employee to ask whether it was weed killer or fertilizer. He had no idea.

Unlike July, Lefty seemed unfazed by the new smell. I say “seemed” because he walked happily through the grass, as he usually does. But I smelled whatever it was and would stay away until a rain or time had passed so I could try it again. The park is my favorite place.

By now, I don’t see any of the weeds curling up and dying, so I’m guessing that I am smelling some kind of nitrogenous chemical fertilizer. I now spend more time out of the park, but I do go in with Lefty. And I’ve begun to notice that, although he sniffs the ground, seemingly as usual, in the park, he no longer poops where the chemical smell is the strongest. Often, he poops right after we exit that area, like he’s been waiting to get away from the smell.

Could I be projecting my own sense of smell on what is happening? Admittedly, this has not been going on for a long time. But could the chemical fertilizer be masking the smells that Lefty sniffs for? (It doesn’t seem to drive him away like the scent of fireworks.)

Maybe he just doesn’t like competition.


#dogs #humor #Lawncare

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