Editor’s Note

One Cool Trick for Your Dog—and You

And all it takes is a tiny green backpack.

By Catherine Matusow June 20, 2016 Published in the July 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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I don't know about your neighbors, but the best way to get the attention of mine is to let one of my dogs poop in someone’s front yard. They slow their cars to a halt, peering at me over the steering wheel. Or, they stop gardening and stare, hands on their hips, waiting for my next move. Will I wander away, whistling, like nothing happened? Or will I clean it up?

Of course—of course—I always bag it. But there is one, extremely minor, crime I hereby confess to committing in the past: On a few occasions, tired of carrying a gross bag around, I’ve looked around, found the streets empty, and scurried up a neighbor’s yard, depositing the package in their trashcan. I wouldn’t mind if they did it to me, I’ve always reasoned, knowing full well that some wouldn’t find my actions neighborly in the least.

I say these infractions are in the past, and it’s true. I decided to retire from my life of crime, not so much because I felt guilty, but because the question of bag disposal quickly became an obsession: Are those people home? Is that house unoccupied? Look at these fools! They haven’t pulled the bin back up the driveway! SCORE! Wait, did someone see me?

I knew it was unhealthy. One night, I mentioned to my husband that I might like a lightweight backpack to carry on walks. And that is how it came to pass that, for my 39th birthday, I received the romantic gift of a small lime-green backpack meant for carrying dog poop. (My husband would have you know I also received a lovely pair of turquoise earrings.)

If I didn’t look like the world’s biggest dork before, I definitely do now that I’ve started wandering the streets in my tiny backpack. But who cares? That pack—and, of course, my new, sanitary, odor-eliminating double-bagging system (patent pending) (not really)—has changed everything. I can once again enjoy dog-walking like a normal person, disposing of my parcels in my own trashcan at the end of my walks.

Would you believe that I didn’t set out to discuss this fascinating subject in this space? Yet as we were planning this issue, brainstorming ways to stay cool in Houston, the backpack was never far from my mind.

The dogs get hot on their summertime walks, as do I, even in the evenings. After receiving my glamorous birthday present, I hopped online and pur- chased a collapsible dog bowl, which I now carry inside my pack, along with bottles full of ice water on the outer side pockets (entirely separate, I feel com- pelled to emphasize, from the rest of the contents), for maximum dorkiness— and coolness of the temperature variety. Once again: life-changing! For me and the pups!

All Houstonians, of course, have their tricks for beating the heat. A tiny lime- green backpack is mine, and I’m entirely aware there’s a zero percent chance of you purchasing one for yourself, despite my enthusiastic endorsement. But there’s tons of other great ways to stay cool in Houston this summer, and you’ll find them all in the pages that follow. Promise.

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