When Composting Goes to the Dogs


Dog gone it, not again! My gluttonous pug – not satisfied with a veggie burger chew toy – has gone bin diving in my compost bucket and recycling bags. These receptacles for reusable waste are placed securely under the sink and not so securely beside the other trash cans in the kitchen. What a mess it makes on the kitchen floor as I catch him in the dirty deed, flattened face buried in the bag, chewing hardened flakes off a cereal box or licking up the yolk residue and eggshells now pasted to my hardwood floor.

I can visualize the sequel now: Smokey and Me. Now that Marley has been put to sleep, we focus on the next heartwarming saga of a well meaning conservationist and her beloved, mischievous family pet.


No matter how much I try pug-proofing my compost containers, the wrinkly chunk always finds the loopholes and manages to get his flat snout in the waste whenever we ease up on our security – a naughty act that begs answers to the following queries:

1. Is the pug an eating machine akin to the great white shark, propelling robotically through his milieu, jaws opening wide and devouring anything and everything in site – from Bounce sheets to cardboard to whatever foul things are carelessly discarded on the street or Polo Fields at Golden Gate Park?

2. Does the dog think of me as terribly wasteful and shameful for getting rid of perfectly good gristle, chicken skin, pork fat, egg shells, coffee grounds, biodegradable clam shell containers and rotting fruit? Does he eat it to teach me a valuable lesson about sustainability?

3. Am I simply dysfunctional in the temporary storage of  disposables?

“Be compassionate with yourself,” my therapist reminds me when I get frustrated about someone removing the rubber bands we connect to the cabinet knobs to proof them. Who would do such a thing? Was it the kids, neighbors, the cleaning lady?


Fine, I’ll ease up on myself and seek counseling for the dog, who might be undergoing some sort of eco-stress from all the talk about eliminating waste around the house. “I’ll eliminate it for you, you guys, if only you will stop trying to lock me out of the goods.”

I wonder what other green dog owners do that we aren’t doing. I would happily take pointers. Do you keep all your household recycle and compost containers outside of the house in a hidden spot, so they can be dumped in the bins collected on trash days? Do you maintain counter buckets that tenacious animals cannot reach? Do time outs? Take away treats. Tell me. I want to know!

Maybe I should resort to threatening no dessert or taking away the privilege of peeing in the doctor’s carport across the street. In the meantime, I’m trying to talk some sense into Smokey, hoping that those scoldings make an impression.


How does it make you feel when your family is doing its part to reduce and reuse, and you go and tip over the containers and cause a lot of angst? Look at the cat. She doesn’t behave like that. She also poops neatly in a box and never begged for food at the table until you came along and corrupted her.

He seems to think I’m speaking in a foreign language, like how some disbelievers glare at us when we talk about climate change and plastic poisons. He cocks his little head and seems to be saying, “When you can get the girls to pick up their wet towels off the floor and un-glue their Power Bars from the car seats, I will resist burrowing in your trash. Otherwise, talk to the paw!”

Guess I’ll have to rely on the blessings of the skinned knee. One day he will suffer a bad case of  diarrhea and projectile vomiting from consuming something nasty and disturbing my waste. He will learn from the pain of his mistakes and only eat kibble at meal time and be a more obedient pug-child. And if he won’t, there is always college.

Images:Mavis, Wickenden, Luanne Bradley

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.