Monday 19 September 2011

Challenge 6: A Shaggy Dog Story

A dog may be man's best friend, but people have nevertheless always found it difficult to share cities with their hairy four-legged mates. However, with an estimated 200,000 dogs in Paris, a number of rules and associated street signs have slowly been put in place to ease this cohabitation.

Ariel, a Spanish student in Paris, sent me the photo above, and wondered what this particular curious dog sign could mean. "What is the purpose of these signs?" he asked. "Did they mark special places to attach dogs outside shops? Did they ask people to walk their dogs on the opposite sidewalk? A special place for dog poo?"

I had my idea, but firstly I had to see if I could track down one of these signs myself. In fact they are relatively common, but often difficult to spot as they are slowly being worn away underfoot. The one I spotted below though, in Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, was still a well-groomed dog, and its purpose was immediately obvious. The sign is directing dog owners towards to gutter where dogs were supposed to deficate.

I use the past tense because times have changed. Whereas dog owners in Paris could previously just encourage their pets to squat in the gutter then leave the waste behind, since 2002 they are obliged to clean up after their pup, even if it has done its business in this spot. Failure to do so can cost owners €35, so it's as well today for them to carry around a little doggy bag.

This particular sign is therefore a relic of a bygone age, something which explains its rather dated (but quite cute) form and the fact that so many of them are being left to disappear.

However, the gutter is far from being forbidden to dogs today. The city of Paris has even made a helpful little film, informing owners that it is still a good idea to use the 'caniveau', but above all to make sure they clear up the mess afterwards! Something that is surely a good idea all round!

Another Dog Tail
Ariel also runs a very interesting and eclectic blog called 'Papirofilia', and this particular dog sign seems to have inspired an amusing creation!

Challenge me!
Seen something in Paris that has caught your eye but remains a mystery, or ever wondered about obscure people or events in the city's past? Challenge me to find the answers!


French Girl in Seattle said...

Ah, the Parisians and their dogs. It's a long, long story. The city of Paris encouraged dog owners to take their dogs to the "caniveau" because it was easier afterwards for city employees to "flush" everything by opening a few strategically located water valves along the street. I wonder if 35 Euros is a strong enough enticement for dog owners to pick up their little darling's poop though. A lot of money has been spent on communication campaigns in the past, with no conclusive results. I did notice during my last visit in the French capital that sidewalks seemed marginally cleaner than before but I don't live in Paris anymore. What do you think? Have dog's "crottes" become "invisible", Invisible Paris? ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Anne said...

I would award 35 euros to the person who could provide actual evidence that anyone has ever received such a fine.

Adam said...

Veronique: I do have the impression that the streets are a little cleaner today. However, there are still noticeable blackspots. Near where I live there is a school situated on a dead-end street, and the road here is always littered with dog mess. You can spend all the money you want on communication campaigns, but if the dog owners themselves do not have the sense to see that it's not a good idea to let their dogs do their duty outside of a school, then I don't what could ever be done.

Anne: I've certainly never seen anyone fined, nor would I even know who would do the fining. I imagine few owners live in fear of these punishments anyway, and I'm sure they are not a prevention.

Kiki said...

That is one smelly subject I often wondered about. In Switzerland dog litter MUST be collected and to help dog owners, the councils put up
- dog fouling 'parks' - separated with fences from playing children and pedestrians
- bag rolls AND litters for the used 'doggie bags'
- signs everywhere to inform and warn dog owners of their duties....
I know it sounds terribly 'police state' but boy, it works a treat. EVERYBODY with a pet has always at least one of those little bags knotted to their darling's leash and is thus well equipped.
It CAN be done but as Paris certainly is NOT dishing out any fines, no dog owner feels responsible for his/her pet.
And yes, I think too that streets are marginally cleaner than 18-20yrs ago but only marginally.
Another fine theme Adam, a bit on the smelly side, but very amusing. And I of course have a childish joy to see 'my' dachshund portrayed so frequently! I also like Ariel’s EU compatible pet :)

Sébastien said...

Your post just reminds me of the "motocrotte"!
Introduced in Paris in 1982 by former mayor Jacques Chirac, these motorbikes had a vacuum cleaning system to suck up dogs' defecations. The city decided to get rid of them in 2004.
You can see a pic here .

Cergie said...

A propos de crotte de chien, si tu veux voir qch de très rare sur quoi je dois poster sur mon blog jardin (pas exclusivement sur cela mais sur le sexe des gingko), il y a actuellement des fruits de gingko biloba dans la rue Pia car il y a un arbre femelle dans cette rue.
Ces arbres sont mâle ou femelle et on pratique l’eugénisme pour avoir plutôt des mâles car les femelles donnent des ovules malodorants en diable ; exactement ayant l’odeur de crotte de chien.

Cergie said...

Notre fils avait une chambre de bonne dans le 15ème dans une petite rue (rue Henri Bocquillon). Les gens faisaient déféquer leur chien sur la chaussée mais hélas la rue étant petite n’était guère nettoyée aussi fallait-il la traverser précautionneusement, ce qui était mission impossible la nuit.

Sab said...

That's funny, as I start my series on fading Paris finds, it never struck me that these doggies would fall easily into that category. I'm sure the streets are cleaner these days, except for certain shady corners, often alongside railway cuttings in my experience, which have become, effectively, dog toilets. I do remember the motocrottes with a certain fondness. Ahh, times are moving on, it seems.

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