Most pickups in Elysian Park tend to place on the east side of the park, in the badlands. Tomorrow (Saturday) a different type of pickup party is planned for the doglands: for the second year in a row, neighbors and dogwalkers will gather to clear the western hiking loop of the tons (do I exaggerate?) of doggy doo that unscrupulous dog walkers have left behind (most of it sun-dried, by now). As Echo Park’s reputation for street violence has lifted, more and more dog people are driving to the neighborhood to walk their dogs in the trails of Elysian Park, where it is not legal to go leashless, but a majority of dog guardians let their animals off leash nonetheless in time-honored tradition. When I first started walking the park, it was common to walk a while, see no one, and then after a short while see an arthritic pitbull creaking toward me, unrestrained. "He's friendly!" the graying hipster-guardian in black jeans and spikes would invariably shout out, by habit and coutesty. I didn't know if I would hurt their feelings by saying, "That's okay, I wasn't worried," so I'd keep my mouth shut and nod. "He's really just a big kitten," the guardian would say when he/she got closer. Eleven years later there are fewer pit bulls, and undoubtedly there are more people. A lot of odd dog mixes: dachsund/beagles; a dalmatian/mastiff, for starters. Many rescues. Many of the owners/guardians are rescues, too: survivors of their own lost years.
My fondest hope is that the poop-party will not be a case of the good cleaning picking up after the bad – the twenty-five or so people who showed up last year to beautify the trail were dog walkers who already picked up after their pets. The offenders, it appeared, stayed home, though they would have been welcome -- even applauded (had anyone known who they were). Everyone loves the prodigal. But, even if it is the pickers-up who show up, the party will be all theirs. Ralph’s is donating food, Starbucks has promised to give coffee.
Karma: To those who attend the poop-up: may you be so fortunate as to come back to earth as a lucky dog whose guardian picks up for him/her in Elysian Park.
Starts 9 a.m. to noon. Participants are asked to gather at the memorial garden/watering area just east of the entrance located at the end of Park Drive, and bring tools. Park and Rec has donated bags. Echo Park Animal Alliance has more information.