I often hike in Forest Park and frequently see little plastic bags of dog poop, knotted shut and left at the side of the trail or even on top of a rock or stump. What is up with this? Is there some religious significance to these offerings?

—Puzzled in the Parks

In ancient times, a shadowy race of druidic peoples trod the plashy fens of the Willamette Valley. No one knows who they were, or what they were doing, but their priests created carefully positioned poo monuments in such perfect alignment with Earth's magnetic field and the rays of the setting sun that, for a few moments on each winter solstice, worshippers could smell Detroit.

If there really were to be a modern resurgence of ancient pooidic rituals, God knows Portland is the place it'd happen. But I'm afraid the truth is more prosaic: People are public-spirited enough to bag their dog's crap, but not quite so civic-minded as to carry it to a trash can.

This half-measure is literally worse than nothing, since it turns what would have been a temporary, biodegradable annoyance into an immortal monument to short attention spans.

But take heart: At least the offenders can get busted. The parks bureau's Mark Ross says rangers can issue citations for up to $150 for dog-related offenses. (Though he then adds, rather distressingly, that "they'd be delighted if they never had to issue a single one," suggesting a mollycoddling, forgive-and-forget attitude at odds with the thumbscrews-and-horsewhips regimen so plainly needed.)

Ross also notes that the parks bureau is partnering with Portland Public Schools on an outreach program that will teach kids how not to do this kind of thing. (Adults are already lost causes, I guess.) So there you go, Puzzled; in just a few short generations, the problem will have solved itself.

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