My Filthy, Nasty, and Thoroughly Disgusting Thanksgiving Community Service Challenge

The Feeshko, my wife, has been trying to get me to do some volunteer work for years.  Her reasoning is very persuasive:  She says I should show my appreciation to the community.  I should give a little bit of my time for those less fortunate.  I should volunteer for the benefit of all.  I should consider some altruistic activities as being good for my own mental health and development as an adult.  I should just generally stop being so selfish.

Her prodding is not just empty gobbledegook.  As long as I’ve know her she has volunteered regularly at her church, at the local food shelf, and in the area of adoption support.  She has also done stints (with our kids in tow) serving holiday meals for the poor and homeless in St. Paul, providing day care for needy parents, giving rides to medical appointments for the elderly, and doing some other stuff that I can’t think of right now.  In other words, she’s sort of a Mother Theresa of MY Town.

But I’ve always had some excuse for not volunteering:  “I work long hours and I need my down time.”  “Charity begins at home.”  “I think I can best serve my community by staying out of the way.”  “Yes, I know it’s volunteer work, but there are still people telling you what to do and I don’t need any more bosses.”  “My brain can’t even GRASP the concept of working for no pay.”

Well, The Feeshko and I were walking our dog on the bike-pedestrian trail near our home a couple of days ago and I told her about this Thanksgiving Challenge.  When I said I was thinking about picking up litter along some of OUR Town’s bike trails, she practically did one of those exaggerated double-takes like the ones you might see The Skipper do after Gilligan says something really, really stupid.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said.  “I’ve been nagging you to do something GOOD all these years and you’ve done nothing but resist.  But as soon as one of your biking buddies on one of your biking websites suggests it, you’re all-in.”

“Yeah, but this is something I can easily do.  Ride my bike.  Pick up some litter.  No bosses to answer to.  No co-volunteers to socialize with.  I remain completely anonymous.  (Anonymous except for bragging about my generous volunteerism on this worldwide website.)

She shook her head.  I shook my head.  I’m not sure, but I think we achieved a new level of emotional closeness.


Our local bike/pedestrian path and favorite dog-walking site.


As we walked, I kept a keen eye out for trash, thinking I could come back later and pick it up while riding my bike.  Unfortunately for me, Minnesotans, as a whole, are a pretty neat and orderly bunch of people.  I didn’t see a single discarded candy wrapper, beverage container, cigarette butt, banana peel, or shred of paper on our entire circuit of the pond.  What the heck?

But we did see something else–something we’ve commented on many, many times before while walking our dog.  This is where the filthy, nasty, and thoroughly disgusting part comes into play.  Sad to say, some dog owners do not clean up after the, shall we say, “mess” their dogs make.  The Feeshko and I are not like THOSE dog owners.  We diligently pick up Diggity’s waste every single time, and we find it repulsive to come across piles of other dogs’ feces in our favorite natural areas.  Suddenly, I came up with a noble cause for some serious volunteer action!

I gathered up a bunch of plastic bags from the house and then I set out to slowly pedal along several miles of trail, patrolling for poop.  Whenever I saw some of those offensive droppings, I stopped to pick them up.  Not only did I clean up the area around our local dog-walking trail, I also moved on to another trail near the nursing home where The Feeshko and I have often seen senior citizens walking their lap dogs and where we’ve seen numerous little mounds of doggy-doo.  After that, I finished up on MY Town’s portion of the Mississippi River Trail.


We had about an inch of snow last week, followed by several days of high temperatures in the mid-20’s (F). It’s above freezing today, but there is still some snow in the shady areas.


Pick up #2. I thought about photographing every one of my pick-ups, but that would have required me to remove my gloves to operate the camera in my phone. It’s just too cold for that.



Come on, people! Read the sign! Take a free bag!  Utilize it!


Pick-up #9 to add to my collection. I’m only showing you this stuff because documenting one’s volunteerism was a required part of the challenge.


Over the years, I’ve become accustomed to picking up my own dog’s excrement, but today I really detested cleaning up after other dogs.  It seemed so dirty.  But then I remembered–it’s for the greater good of the community.  The Feeshko will be so proud of me when I show her my pictures.


“Hey there, Greg, whatcha doin’?”


“Oh, hi Mr. Bald Eagle.  I’m just picking up dog poop for a volunteering project.”


“Have you seen any small dogs that I can swoop down on and carry off to my hungry eaglets?”


“Oh yeah. About a mile-and-a-half northeast of here you’ll be able to find a bunch of little yappers near the senior citizen’s housing.”


“Oh, OK. I gotta go now. Thanks, and keep up the good work.”


I don’t know where Mr. Bald Eagle flew off to in such a hurry, but I DO know that I collected 14 doggy specimens, totaling perhaps two pounds, and deposited them where no law-abiding citizen will ever have to see them.

Hi. My name is Greg and I ride my bike a lot. That is to say, I ride my bike almost every day. I go on long rides and short rides. Sunny rides, cloudy rides, and rainy rides. I like commuting, errand-running, day-tripping, overnighting, and touring on my bike. I ride on city streets, highways, gravel, single track, and snow with equal enthusiasm. Sometimes I ride fast and sometimes I ride slow. I try to keep my feet on the pedals at stop lights and I do not dismount when I hop up on a curb. I have a roadie bike, a mountain bike and a touring bike. I try to accept any challenge a bike ride can throw at me without complaint. But I don't like bugs.

16 response to "My Filthy, Nasty, and Thoroughly Disgusting Thanksgiving Community Service Challenge"

  1. By: Bill Stone Posted: November 15, 2018

    Greg, I think I speak for everyone at Cycle365 when I thank you for refraining from utilizing the newest HTML “odor” tags in order to transmit the scents of your ride to us via our browsers.

    • By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

      Technology-wise, I’m even more naïve than I am in every day life. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to enter in a HTML odor tag–and how well it would work–before I realized you were joking. (You were joking, right?)

  2. By: Lah Posted: November 15, 2018

    Over the years, I’ve enjoyed doing various volunteer jobs, but I usually (selfishly) pick ones based on my interest, more than their need. I’m not interested in poop duty, so feel you should get the award for going over and beyond.

    • By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

      I’d like to do volunteer jobs based on my interests too, but there just isn’t much demand for anti-social volunteers who only want to ride their bikes around town. So, alas, I was reduced to picking up dog doo (while riding my bike, of course.)

  3. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: November 15, 2018

    Mike Rowe said this to a young man who started a Pooper Scooper business — and Im sure he would include you as well:

    – You sir, are inspiration, and proof-positive that when it comes to #2, somebody’s gotta be #1.

    • By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

      I think being #1 at #2 is the first time I’ve ever been #1 at anything. Thank you, Rich.

  4. By: The Navigator Posted: November 15, 2018

    Congratulations and well done, Pope Pooper Scooper! You have certainly taken the challenge to the next level. At least there is one good thing about cold MN – half-frozen dog turds would be less squishy and smelly than summer collections. You deserve an award for your efforts. Surely the Feeshko knows by now that all she needs to do to get you to do something is dare you or challenge you?

    • By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

      Exactly right, Em. If I had been doing that on a hot and humid summer day, the smell of the melting crap would have been unbearable and every fly in Dakota County would have been hovering over my pannier as I rode. Worse than that, the citizens of MY Town would think the trail of flies was following me because I was the stinky one. Frozen poo is easier to handle and, at the end of the ride, I didn’t feel like I had to sterilize my pannier.

      Thank you for “daring” us to volunteer for some community service.

  5. By: NancyG Posted: November 15, 2018

    Above and beyond indeed! You merit the winner badge. I was thinking what Em said about at least those turds were half frozen!! YOUR town has got to be proud of you pooper! I mean scooper.

    • By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

      Awww, shucks. I didn’t really go above and beyond the call of duty, and I sure don’t deserve any kind of merit badge. But, hey, if enough people think my magnanimous contribution to the good of the community was a pretty big deal, well, who am I to argue.

  6. By: Bikerdockeith Posted: November 15, 2018

    Hi Greg,

    Holy s—–! Your community service really is beyond anything I could imagine. You have definitely set an example it will be hard to match. There should be an award for this. Merely calling you the Pope of Poop is not enough. You should be the Master of Manure, the King of Krap, the Duke of Dung, the Sultan of …. oh well, let’s not go too far.
    Well done, sir!

    • By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

      I certainly didn’t expect all the praise I’ve been getting simply for performing a small, selfless act that pretty much saved this community from ugliness, pestilence, disease and death. But feel free to address me with any of those titles of royalty you expressed.

  7. By: Suzanne Posted: November 15, 2018

    You are a brave man!
    Here it would be even easier to pick up poop since some people put the poop in the bags provided and then leave the plastic bag with the poop in it on the roadside! I see those little red bags all the time. But I’m not going to follow your laudable example and collect them. I prefer to play police and capture the culprits (meaning the owners) red handed.
    I’m all for having dogs’ DNA registered and then by analyzing the feces, you can identify the dog and owner. That would be effective but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen soon.

  8. By: gregblood Posted: November 15, 2018

    Suzanne, I think you’re onto something with that DNA registration idea.

    Yes, we too have some of those scofflaws who bag up their dog’s poop and then leave the bags along the trail. To The Feeshko and I, that seems worse. The poop itself would decompose faster than the plastic bag. We just don’t get it. If you’re too lazy to properly dispose of your dog’s waste, why even bother to bag it up. Maybe they feel a responsibility to pick up their dog’s droppings, but they think “I’ll be damned if I’m going to carry it too.”

    As to your point of playing police: Even though I’m not normally very confrontational, I did come across a guy one day who didn’t clean up after his dog. It was a big dog and it barked at my dog savagely. I just kind of pointed at his dog’s poop and gave him a “what’s up with that” stare. I was astounded at what he said. “Yeah, I just let him go for a few days, and then I come back at the end of the week and clean them all up.” Yeah, sure he does.

  9. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: November 16, 2018

    I dunno…All those plastic bags you used that will stay in landfill for ever whereas dog poos have been deposited in the great outdoors for millennia and degrade eventually.

  10. By: gregblood Posted: November 16, 2018

    Golly Mr. De Nalloh, you sure know how to rain on a guy’s parade. You’re right of course, but I figure those plastic bags will end up in a land fill anyway, so they might as well have something yucky in them.

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