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Nature's course 

I get up at 6:20 each and every weekday morning. But if it were up to my dog Mugsy, this ritual would be postponed by some serious snooze button action. Once I'm up, I have to physically rouse him. It takes more than a measly alarm to jump-start that furry butt.

I yawn and stretch. He yawns and stretches. We both suffer from morning breath and tend to get sleep in our eyes. I throw on some clothes and my sneaks. He nudges my leg with his head for me put on his collar. We're out the door.

Although I don't have a fenced backyard for my best friend, I do have the luxury of living one block away from what I call "The Wall," the two-mile gravel track surrounding Duke's East Campus. What a perfect way to start the day; we both get our exercise, and Mug-shot has two whole miles in which to take care of his business.

I generally see the same people every morning, the walkers/joggers, the runners, and those people, like myself, out with their four-legged friends.

Of the latter, there are two types: those who carry plastic baggies with them to pick up after their pets, and those "irresponsible" souls like me who leave the cleanup to Mother Nature.

I suppose if Mugsy were the type of dog who could relieve himself any-old-where, I too would tote a baggie on our walks. But like most humans I know, Mug-shot suffers from a shy colon, and would most definitely shut the bathroom door if given the option. Instead, he makes use of bushes, tall grass, and his favorite spots under those huge magnolias that scatter Duke's campus: Privacy guaranteed, and no chance that anyone will carry a little Mugsy home with them on the bottom of their shoes.

One morning, Mugsy was crouched behind some bushes lining a short stretch of the track. As I stood there waiting for him to finish, a runner passed, and in a tone far too aggressive to be used before 7 a.m, he said, "Be responsible--buy some bags!"

I stood there for a second, too stunned to reply, watching this man kick up dust as he continued along his way. Buy some bags, I thought to myself. He was right. Why let nature take care of it when there's plastic?

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