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January 04, 2017

Ask Hickey: Who cleans up after guide dogs?

Got something you want to ask? Send me your questions through FacebookTwitter or email (with "Ask Hickey" in the subject line). Your anonymity is guaranteed — if that’s how you want it — so feel free to send them via private/direct message.


And now, this week’s questions...

Let's talk about dog poo ... again

Who cleans up seeing-eye dog poop? (several-time questioner FreemanMcNeil24 via Twitter)

Good question, FMN24. I have no idea, so I needed to reach out to someone with expertise in the area: The Seeing Eye organization in Morristown, N.J.

It’s a philanthropic organization with a mission “to enhance the independence, dignity, and self-confidence of blind people through the use of Seeing Eye® dogs.” (Seeing Eye is a trademarked term specific to dogs that come from this organization; i.e. not all guide dogs are Seeing Eye dogs.)

Anyway, I felt weird – almost tacky – asking this question, but Seeing Eye’s Michelle Barlak graciously got back to me while on vacation. She said they get that question a lot. So, don’t feel as weird about asking me to ask someone about it. Here’s her response:

Seeing Eye dog owners learn how to pick up after their dogs during their 3 to 4 weeks of training at The Seeing Eye.

The owner can place their hand on their dog's back and feel based on the position of the dog's spine if the dog is urinating or defecating.

If the dog is defecating, they can run their hand down the dog's back and approximate where on the ground they need to clean up. 

There’s also an FAQ on that delves into this matter. Here’s the response from there:

Some cities exempt guide dog owners and other service dog owners from scooping laws, but most do not. There is no need for an exemption because blind people are just as capable as sighted people in doing most things, including cleaning up after their dogs.

A person doesn't have to see poop to pick it up. Like anyone else, a blind person knows which end of the dog is which, and the dog only toilets on command so they know the when and where of poopology. A hand is inserted in a plastic poop bag like a glove and the hand is run down the hind leg of the dog to the dump zone. Then the scooper feels around for the warm squooshy stuff, grasps it, and turns the bag inside out.

It's exactly the same for a sighted person who walks their dog at night and must scoop in the dark.

The more you know.

Let's talk about morbid business opportunities!

There’s a lot of vacant land in Philly. People die every year in Philly, but many are buried outside the city limits. What’s it take to open a new cemetery in Philly? (Voices, via my head)

Yes, Hickey asked Hickey a question this week. Don’t judge. If I can’t answer it here, where can I, y’know?

After checking into the history of cemeteries in Philadelphia, I reached out to City Hall with my question. Ajeenah Amir, deputy communications director, then touched base with Karen Guss in the Department of Licenses & Inspections.

Turns out – per the city code – it’d take an ordinance to open a new cemetery in Philadelphia. Here’s the applicable sections of the code:

Section 14-603(4)   Cemetery.

No cemetery or place for burial may be erected, kept, maintained, or established within the City unless:

(a)   It was established and in use for such purpose on May 25, 1866; or

(b)   It was specifically authorized by prior ordinance. 

Section 14-601(b)   Cemetery.

Land used for burial of dead bodies or cremated remains. Cemeteries are allowed only if approved by ordinance. See § 14-603(4) (Cemetery).

Want to open a cemetery? Find a councilperson who’d take up the case for you.

Do you wanna build a clone army?

How can we all be more Hickey? (Kevin C. Shelly, via Facebook)

Get yourself an awesome bride, kid, family and friends.

Stay woke about the dangers of chemtrails.

Listen to everything from Katy Perry to Run the Jewels.

Be able to admit when you're wrong.

Never go to Diner en Blanc.

Give zero f’s, look both ways before crossing the street, and live each day like it’s your last.