Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Green, Green Grass of the Netherlands

There is a children's playground two minutes from home, a place that my son loves to visit of course. However, whilst i enjoy watching my toddler have fun, I am not so keen on the rituals we have when we come back from the park.

At the front door we do a shoe check, followed by a pram wheel check - that's at least four feet and four wheels. The result of the examination usually leads to profanities (from me) and calls of "dog poo, dog poo" (from my son), followed by "project scrape and wash".

Hondenpoep. To you and me, that's dog poo. And it is everywhere in the Netherlands. If it is green then it is adopted as a dog toilet. Even if the patch of grass is adorned quite clearly with signs forbidding dogs, it still ends up as a doggie bathroom.

Now, I am not talking about the odd pile to manoeuvre around. In my local park it is truly a dog poo obstacle course that only military trained personnel can complete without incident.

We actually mailed a complaint to our local council, believing quite strongly that slides, swings and dog poo are not an ideal combination. Within a day or two, we had a card posted through our door from the wijkpost, telling us quite clearly that they are fully aware that there are dog poo issues locally. The park we had highlighted would be added to the 'dog poo patrol' round.

Furthermore, the card informed us, dogs may only foul in the bushes, not on paths and grass areas (good to know next time i am rummaging in the bushes for my son's football), but dog owners are obliged to pick up after their dogs should they foul anywhere outside of the bushes. They are subject to a 90 euro fine if they fail to remove the offending pile and dispose of it in a considerate manner.

The note ended with "Unfortunately, we can't be everywhere at the right moment, but the dog poo nuisance will certainly become less of a problem when dog owners see us patrolling daily".

Ok. I am not holding my breath (unless I am in the bushes on ball fetching duty again) but next time I'm in the park I'll be keeping my eye out for the poo patrol! (I wonder what a dog poo patrol wears!) And if you are a dog owner in my neighbourhood - BE WARNED - if you thought 25cents was an expensive visit to the toilet at the V&D, then wait until you get on the wrong side of the dog poo patrols - it will cost you 90 euros.

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