Ah yes, there lies a gift to the trail. A soft, warm offering encased in emerald, purple or indigo.

A Hershey’s kiss dropped artistically on a path winding into the wilderness, to be shared by hikers and their furry friends.

An ornament of imprudence, swinging gently on the limb of an unsuspecting tree.

A capricious souvenir tucked into the armpit of a branch, stuffed into a chipmunk hole or tossed into a hollow log.

The legacy of a well-fed canine who looked on in bewilderment, amusement perhaps, as their human stooped to scoop, parcel and then proceeded to endow the trail. Interesting ritual, the dog muses. But who am I, licker of bottoms, to judge?


Perhaps the intent was to retrieve the trail offering on the way back. Perhaps it was forgotten, missed or lost. Maybe the scooper was unwilling to add the squishy offering to their backpack or have it swing from their hand the rest of the way.

They may even be soggy breadcrumbs, dropped to aid future trail travellers navigate their way back to the safety of their vehicles.

Whatever the purpose, the joy at finding such generous treasures left gift wrapped and tucked into precarious places (or in plain sight for generations of nature lovers to come), is never expressed in a joyous way.

Why not?

These squashy trail gems are second only, in terms of worst trail etiquette, to stained sheets of toilet paper strewn over the ground. Visions of pure, untainted wilderness are instantly shattered when you find either.

The only kind of poop I like to identify on the trail is deer, moose or rabbit.

More important to the discussion is the plastic. You know, the stuff we don’t want floating in our oceans? We don’t want it in our wild places either. Doggy bags are single-use plastics. Even if you use a decomposing doggy bag, they were designed as a clean and effortless way to remove evidence of canine bowel movement, not just half-heartedly disguise it. Or facilitate hanging it on branches at eye level.


Leaving your doggy bag behind shows blatant disregard for the purity and beauty of nature. If you bother sinking plastic encased fingers into the warm stuff to pick it up, please bother to take the next step and pack it out.

But how do you deal with your dog’s doe-eyed offering? Understandably no one wants to swing a bag of warm stench the whole way up the mountain and back.

Try tying it to your dog’s leash or put it in their pack.

There are specially designed odour reducing zip pouches or cans for packing it out that can be attached to leashes or straps as well. Using these will make sure no twig tears will deposit the contents back on the trail. Or simply use a zip freezer bag or designated water bottle or container to safely pack it out.

Whatever you do, please pack it up, down and out. Colourful doggie bags are not gems, gifts to the trail or worthy ornaments. They are never met with joy and appreciation. Pinecones, deer poop and fallen leaves are enough trail decoration to keep every nature-goer happy.

ososossjsjSylvia Dekker

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