One piece to the poop bag puzzle

I think I found a missing piece to the puzzle of dog poop bags.

All us who know the C&O Canal towpath know about dog poop bags. Leash in one hand, bag in the other, at the strategic moment he or she swoops down to capture their prize and tie a good secure knot. What happens next is the puzzle.

I’d like to think that most dog owners do what’s responsible and the little bags end up in the household trash. But evidence to the contrary lays alongside the towpath path like little blue, yellow, and black sentries.

A dog poop bag patiently awaits
its owners.

It’s not just that I don’t like dog poop bags. It’s that there’s something going on here that transcends the subject of an unsightly and particularly disgusting kind of trash. I’ve noticed that the bags are not randomly tossed aside, like beer cans or plastic water bottles. Instead, most are carefully placed at the base of a tree trunk or post, by a rock, even in the end of a hollow tree. Why do people do this? I have some ideas, which I will write about later. But for the moment, I just want to pass along this one incident, since it’s breaking news. It also happens to be good news.

The bag I found today was leaning against a tree on the side of a little path that connects the canal towpath to the parking lot at Carderock. It was white and a little bigger and floppier than most.

I knelt down to take a picture of it. (Yes, I really do take photos of dog poop bags, and I’m not the only one. There’s at least one other, naturally a Brit. ). Just then I noticed a threesome approaching me on the towpath—a man, woman, and a dog. Happy for the chance to give my shot a little context I waited for them to get closer so I could make it a foursome.

They must have seen me. What were they thinking? I knew what I was thinking—that I must have looked pretty foolish.

I headed to my car, and just before I got in I glanced back and saw something I had never witnessed before: The man picked up the bag and took it with him. Their car happened to have been parked right next to mine. I could see that they were a nice couple, with happy smiles and scruffy clothes. Their dog looked friendly.

Of course I’ll never know if my obvious interest in their dog poop bag had anything to do with their asserting ownership of it. I don’t think it did.

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