PP is a member of several consumer panels, which means we regularly receive free samples of new products to try out, evaluate and review.
In recent times we've had a month's supply of a new dishwasher tablet, some revolutionary cotton buds and a 4 kilo sack of dog food which Small Dog hates and is now taking up a substantial amount of space in a kitchen cupboard.
So this morning, when a box arrived addressed to PP, I was agog to discover what it might contain.
At this point I feel that I should issue a warning that if you are unhappy with bodily functions and excretions, or have a particularly sensitive gag reflex, you might want to stop reading.
NOW. At this point. Bye
Right, for those of you with a stronger constitution, the box contained one of these.
Namely, the geometrically patterned item on the right.... the ball is there purely to give an impression of scale (but it might give a clue as to its function).
Apparently it's a Dicky Bag.
No, we didn't know what that is either, but further investigation revealed it to be, and I quote,
"a more civilised way of carrying dog poo".
To be more precise, it's a 4mm, double lined neoprene container which has a lid with a unique odour prevention seal. It comes complete with biodegradable bags, which are stored and dispensed from the lid, and the icing on the cake is a renewable fragrance disc, which is stored in the base. It also incorporates a belt loop, and a universal clip which can be attached to your bag, or the dog's harness or lead.
It comes in 5 different sizes, from extra small
to extra large
and, apparently, in a wide range of attractive colours.
So far so good.
On walks with Small Dog, I am invariably the Keeper of the Poo Bags, which means I always have, on or about my person, a ready supply of little black bags.
I am also privileged to hold the position of Picker-Up of the Poo. This is a highly skilled task, which requires enormous dexterity and a strong stomach. Small Dog may be small, but her poo packs a pungent punch.
Analogous with the previous office, I also rejoice in the title of Disposer of the Poo, which is, perhaps, my least favourite vocation. Small Dog has an uncanny knack of dispensing poo where there are no dog poo bins in sight. If we are walking along the seafront, where dog poo disposal bins are spaced at regular intervals, she will poo at a point exactly equidistant between two of them. On country walks, where dog poo bins are thin on the ground, she will invariably poo within the first 2 minutes, resulting in my having to carry a bag of warm poo around with me for the duration.
OK.... so I know what you're thinking.
Sandra, be grateful you don't have a Great Dane. Or even two. You'd need wheelbarrow for that.
And believe, me, I am thankful for small mercies.
Or should that be small poos.
But a bag of poo is a bag of poo however you dress it up, and strolling along trying to maintain a nonchalant demeanour, while swinging a bag of dog poo is a hard act to pull off.
So you will appreciate that when I discovered the Dicky Bag, my eyes lit up with barely concealed excitement and anticipation. It's quite a nifty article. To the untutored eye it looks as if it might designed to keep a single serving can of gin and tonic nicely chilled. Indeed, if push came to shove I'm sure it could be used for any number of imaginative purposes, but I'm going to rein in my exhuberance and use it for the purpose for which it is intended.
Namely storing Small Dog's bags of poo until they can be appropriately disposed of.
Incidentally, Small Dog finds the whole subject deeply abhorrent. She seems constantly surprised that she should be responsible for something as repugnant as dog poo, and runs away from it as soon as it hits the ground.
She is even more surprised that I should want to pick it up, carry it around in a little bag, and sometimes even take it home with me. Indeed, while I am engaged in the picking up process, she stands as far away from me as possible, eyes trained on a distant object on the horizon, attempting (successfully) to ignore the whole sordid business.
I often feel that my role as her effluent control officer places me on a much lower social ranking than PP, and infinitely lower than Small Dog.
So when I showed her the Dicky Bag, she sniffed it curiously, no doubt hoping that it might contain something delishus. I demonstrated how the biodegradable bags pull out one at a time from the neat little dispenser in the lid. I let her sniff the fragrance disc and examine the unique odour prevention seal. I explained the function of the universal clip, which means that she could carry the Dicky Bag, along with its contents, attached to her harness.
This was clearly a step too far. I should have known better. I've been on the receiving end of many a withering glare from Small Dog over the years, but the one she gave me when I suggested she carry her own poo could have curdled milk.
Nevertheless I intend to press the Dicky Bag into use at the first available opportunity, even if I have to attach it to my own belt loop, rather than Small Dog's harness.
However, I'll bide my time.