I live across from a dog toilet. Let me preface this by saying that I live in a suburb of Utrecht and the neighborhood is beautiful. It is very green with lots of trees and grass. And there are “sloten” (pronounced sloaten) everywhere-they are narrow bodies of water and I will discuss them in a later post-it is really a nice, quiet area with attached homes and apartments.

We live on a corner and on one side is a sloot (pronounced sloat) where ducks happily live. On the other side is a large grass area that is designated as a dog toilet. I am not joking, there are signs stating this. I call it the poop park.

There are many dogs in this neighborhood and they are walked a few times a day. Everyone knows about this special area and as they walk their dogs, they always end up at this spot.

The city maintains this poop park by coming by two times a week and cleaning it. It looks like it gets vacuumed, actually. The machine looks like a sit down mower, but it has a special attachment-a long hose that goes over the poop and sucks it up. When I finally got to see this man and machine in action, I was quite impressed. He was a very thorough fellow.

These dog toilets are throughout the Netherlands and it certainly seems to make sense.

In America, we walk dogs with a plastic bag in our pocket, but here, you don’t have to have a bag, as long as you are on the correct grass. The residents know that there are two types of grass:  poop free and feel free to poop. I have been upset to see dogs doing their business on the regular grass and the owner does not pick it up. There is no reason for this, as there is a toilet area for the dogs. The dogs may not know this, but the owners do. It makes me wonder how they conduct themselves out in public.

I love the idea of this dog toilet. It is recognition that this country has an abundance of dogs and not a lot of free, open space.  But it also shows how clean, smart and practical the Dutch are.

I have just seen two cats in this neighborhood and I wonder if they use this grass area. Cats believe they are so much smarter than dogs, so they obviously would read the sign. But would they step onto this grass? Of course they would. Because they can and they know how much it will irritate the dogs. 

It is all about the little things in life…where your dog poops is an important thing and it just makes you ask “isn’t life grand?”

 Recommended reading:  Year of the dog by Shelby Hearon

                                            Nose down, eyes up by Merrill Markoe

                                           Art of racing in the rain by Garth Stein

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  • Alison  On April 11, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Having a dog, I will say that just because there’s a designated area for the dogs to go, doesn’t mean they will, no matter how hard you try. I think the fact that so many dogs use that one area causes territorial issues or something, at least at the small honden toilet near us. On the other hand, we do keep our dog off the picnic plaats area and clean up after him when needed. I made a special holder for the baggies that fits conveniently on the harness so we’re never without!

  • Aledys Ver  On April 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

    In many areas around my city – Zwolle – you see dog-poop bag dispensers. Have you seen these in your area?
    As to the cats – they don’t poop in “honden toilets” they do it at home in the regular toilet – they are so smart that they can push the button after they’ve been 😀

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