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Spring is barely here but already the piles of garbage can be seen with the snow melt. This means that I have begun to pick up other peoples’ trash when I walk. When Poochie was alive, I enlisted her help to pick up the egg cartons, old bits of cardboard, and fast food containers that littered our walking paths. She never learned to sit, stay, or heel but she learned to pick up garbage. Nothing cuter than a big, white fluffy dog marching along, tail high, an egg carton clutched in her mouth along with various bits of wadded-up paper, plastic, whatever. More than one passerby did a double-take. Poochie was an environmentally aware canine, a contributing member of society. I miss her particularly at this time of the year.

While I love spring, I hate the garbage. The piles serve as a reminder that people can be thoughtless. I still pick up lots of other peoples’ garbage, but I feel I am fighting a losing battle. In years past, I have collected several bags of garbage, mostly plastic water bottles, in one day…only to travel the same path the next day and find the supply of garbage replenished. It is demoralizing. The thing I find most upsetting is that it is often children doing the littering…the same kids being lectured on a daily basis at school about the importance of the environment. I note that Earth Day will be upon us soon and the local school will have a ‘Trash Pickup Day’ on its premises. Am I the only one to see that, if they didn’t throw their garbage all over the school yard, they wouldn’t have to pick it up in a massive cleanup? A cleanup that will last for three hours until they start littering again.

My spring rage exploded yesterday when I went to the local hospital for my bone density test. On the grassy knoll just outside the entrance was a huge pile of old cigarette butts. Appalling! This is where the hospital workers ( and possibly doctors and nurses) go to smoke…since it is not allowed IN the hospital. It’s bad enough that they have to smoke at all, worse still that they do it in front of the building where heart and cancer patients are being treated as a result of their own nicotine addictions, but you’d think at least they could hide the evidence. Nobody wants to plow through piles of butts on their way in for a chemo treatment.

I have been taking The Pig for long walks, trying to mitigate with exercise the effects of the homemade soup, treats, bits of cheese, salmon, that she gets while in my care. Being a hound, she smells where ‘the good stuff’ (the rotting carcasses and dog poop) is before I even see it. Yesterday I yanked her away from a disgusting pile of something…and there seemed to be a small, rat-like tail hanging out of her mouth. This from the dog who used to have such a delicate constitution that a change in her kibble would cause her to retch. I venture a guess that living with Grandma has broadened her horizons. She swallowed whatever it was, licked her lips, and trotted on to another pile of poop that she remembered from two days ago. I, as her companion walker, have long since forgotten where it was, but she remembers with the precision of one of those laser-guided bombs or heat-seeking missiles that the army uses.

I told Gill of the uneaten sandwiches and chicken bones The Pig discovered under a bush. She didn’t say anything for a minute and then sheepishly admitted, “Oh, that’s a favourite ploy for kids walking home from school. They throw their uneaten, nutritious lunches away before their moms search their lunch boxes and see they didn’t eat the food. We used to do that with the ‘allergy food’ you made us for lunches…Oops, have I said too much?”

“Yes, but don’t let that bother you. You mean you ungrateful little children threw away the lunches I spent hours slaving over so you wouldn’t get sick?”

“Uh, that would be a ‘yes’. Sorry, Ma. But at least the neighborhood pooches had lots of treats.”

“Yes, along with a few choking incidents and poisonings from week-old rotting bologna. Not to mention the broken heart I am currently suffering when learning  of your childhood duplicity.But no matter…I don’t suppose there is a statute of limitations on this sort of thing. I can still cut you out of my will…””