Dogged by a dilemma

It is not easy being either the perfect dog owner, or a flawless man's best friend.

While I supply the kibbles, water, some petting and the occasional squeaky toy, the majority of the relationship is under the purview of my pooch, Spooky. He keeps busy fetching the newspapers, protecting the house, announcing the delivery of the mail, howling to the music of National Public Radio, helping with all chores, barking at strange cars ... so much to do in the day of a dog.

The zenith of the daily routine is a mutually beneficial walkabout, sometimes for only six blocks, other times for miles, exploring the alleys of Ashland while occasionally surfacing downtown for errands and to witness the pulse of people that ply the storefront sidewalks.

Attendant to this comes my responsibility to ensure that should the call of nature blindside Spooky, I am prepared to gift-wrap his gift in plastic and deposit it in a trash receptacle. This explains the plastic bag that accompanies us in our daily constitutional.

The other day, while we both walked some blocks away from home, I came across an empty plastic bag cast upon the sidewalk. Though I am not obsessively fastidious, I have no use for trash thrown asunder and picked up the bag. Beginning anew with a tune-filled whistle, we continued our explorations around the corner and down the way.

I shortly came across an empty plastic bottle of designer water, carelessly tossed by a clearly bloated end user. I naturally picked it up and proceeded with the promenade while wondering why someone so enamored with healthy hydration would mar the neighborhood with detritus. After a frown and a shrug, I stepped back into the game plan.

A block later I found a discarded potato chip bag and, in a fluid motion resembling a brass rig grab on a merry-go-round, snatched it up and made it mine. This went on block after block, for apparently I was retracing the route of a dump-bound pickup with an uncovered load, launching debris towards all quadrants.

I have found that once the eye focuses on something, it sees little else. Soon I was sporting the latest look in mobile recycling as I continued to pick up errant objects while Spooky kept his nose to the ground in search of telltale smells. I needed to deposit my findings, but I was not sure of the etiquette of using someone's handy trash can to relieve my load.

It was trash pick-up day in the neighborhood and plastic trash barrels were abundant, curbside and empty. Perhaps I should have just slam-dunked my findings in the first available container and marched on, but I felt that it would be presumptuous to impose my new found treasures upon others.

On the other hand, I was improving the visible landscape to the benefit of all, while hoping only that I did not have to pack everything 12 blocks to my own recycle bin. A simple dog walk quickly turned into a moral dilemma where does public service turn into an imposition on the neighbors.

It was around noon and the sun was turning up the heat. It seemed that I was unable to lurch but a few feet before being presented with another opportunity to curb blight and improve the visual landscape. As sweat began to cascade down my brow I espied a lidless container ripe for the stuffing.

Just as I was about to do the deed I noticed the ruffling of a curtain in the affected house. A shadow-laden countenance seemed to frown on my intentions, so I acted nonchalant and moseyed homeward, toting an over-abundance of litter, now considered my own.

Just as we reached home and entered the yard, I was stopped cold by my wife, Annette, who quickly and definitively assessed the situation.

"Just where do think you're going with all that trash, Mr. Do-Good? We don't have room for all that here."

My eyeballs roamed until I finally answered: "Just working on a recycling costume for next year's Fourth of July parade."

Lance was last seen bouncing down the alleys of the Railroad District carrying a large plastic bag while riding his Segway. You may regale him with rubbish at

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