Archive for the 'Science' Category


Dog Scat – a Socioeconomic Study


Socioeconomic studies often delve into a myriad of factors that shape the dynamics of human societies. While the traditional methods of data collection and analysis have yielded substantial insights, innovative approaches can sometimes offer fresh perspectives. One such unconventional avenue is the study of dog scat—a resource that might hold unexpected insights into socioeconomic patterns. This article explores the potential of using dog scat as a basis for socioeconomic studies, acknowledging both its opportunities and limitations.

The Unlikely Connection

At first glance, the idea of using dog scat for socioeconomic studies might seem bizarre. However, examining the waste of our four-legged companions can yield valuable information about various aspects of a community’s socioeconomic landscape.

Dietary Habits and Socioeconomic Disparities

The contents of dog scat can provide insights into the dietary habits of dogs across different neighborhoods. High-quality dog food tends to be more expensive, while lower-income communities might resort to more affordable alternatives. Analyzing the composition of dog scat from various areas can shed light on disparities in pet nutrition and indirectly reflect the socioeconomic conditions of those neighborhoods.

Pet Ownership and Financial Stability

The prevalence of dogs within a community can be indicative of its socioeconomic makeup. Affluent neighborhoods might have a higher concentration of dogs as pets, given the resources required for proper pet care. Conversely, lower-income areas might have fewer dogs due to financial constraints. By surveying and analyzing dog scat, researchers can estimate dog populations and thus infer patterns of pet ownership in different socioeconomic strata.

Public Spaces and Urban Planning

The distribution of dog scat in public spaces can offer insights into the state of urban planning and community development. Well-maintained parks in prosperous neighborhoods are likely to have more responsible pet owners who clean up after their dogs. In contrast, neglected public spaces in economically challenged areas might witness higher instances of dog waste, reflecting issues with urban infrastructure and resource allocation.

Access to Veterinary Care

The presence of parasites or undigested elements in dog scat can provide indirect information about access to veterinary care. Higher instances of parasites could indicate inadequate medical attention, possibly due to financial constraints faced by dog owners in certain communities. This aspect can be a stepping stone to understanding the accessibility of healthcare services in different socioeconomic settings.

Limitations and Ethical Considerations

While using dog scat as a basis for socioeconomic study has its potential, it’s essential to acknowledge the limitations and ethical considerations associated with this approach:

1. Sample Bias: The collection of dog scat samples might suffer from biases, as certain areas might be overrepresented or underrepresented due to various factors.

2. Privacy Concerns: The collection of data from public spaces raises concerns about privacy, as the waste of pets might indirectly reveal information about their owners.

3. Causation vs. Correlation: While correlations between dog scat composition and socioeconomic factors can be established, direct causation might be challenging to prove.

4. Ethical Treatment of Animals: Researchers must ensure that the study respects the ethical treatment of animals, avoiding any harm or discomfort to dogs during the data collection process.


In the realm of socioeconomic studies, creativity knows no bounds. While unconventional, the idea of using dog scat as a basis for such research opens up intriguing possibilities. By examining the waste of our furry companions, researchers can gain insights into dietary habits, pet ownership trends, urban planning effectiveness, and access to veterinary care across different socioeconomic strata. However, it’s crucial to approach this method with ethical considerations in mind and acknowledge its limitations. As society continues to evolve, so too do the ways in which we uncover valuable insights into the human experience.

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The concept of poo radius

We’ve noticed that when we take our dogs out they always poo nearby our house.  We can estimate using Google maps that their poo radius is about 300 feet. Are other dogs the same?

We don’t know, yet. But the observation prompts an interesting idea…

Dog poos are not transported by the gods, nor dropped by the birds, nor, generally, left by trekkers traveling miles from home.

They are left behind by our neighbors. Can we be more precise than that?

Which neighbors?

It’s a pretty obvious idea when you think about it, and we all probably implicitly do come to the obvious conclusion: the neighbors nearby. But perhaps if we could come up with a quantitative spin on this we could make that intuition more concrete, and perhaps, more useful.

Consider the ‘probability of poo’ distribution function. The probability is low at distances close to zero (people generally won’t let their pups poo right at the foot of their steps, for example, but someone else’s steps, that’s another matter!) – and then the probability increases with distance, reaching a maximum at some point, and then decreasing as you get farther and farther from home.

There’s probably a right way to do this – collect data from a team of “dog-poo reporters” in order to establish the shape of the distribution function, P(p|d) (the probability of a poo (p) at a distance (d) from home). Then use that prior distribution and a little Bayesian statistics to ask: given the occurrence of an orphan poo at location y, what’s the probability that the poo-coward lives distance x away? 

(There must be additional variables, too – poo behavior near a single family home will be different from near a condo, behavior near a front door will be different from a back door, a poo-friendly surface will facilitate poo, winter walks will be shorter than summer walks, etc, etc.)

This might take a lot of work.

But let’s take the easy way out. Imagine that there’s a single poo radius for all dogs (something we admit we have not established) and that the radius is 300 feet (something that might also vary – perhaps FrouFrou goes right away, while hefty Gorgon needs to walk a while to stir things up).

If we can make that simplification, then we can come up with this:

An interesting visualization of something that’s not usually made explicit, isn’t it?

It suggests that we can identify the pool of candidate poo-cowards by simply mapping the position of the orphan-poo.  

The five locations identified in the map are recurring poo-hotspots at the southern end of the South Loop:

  1. Mary Jones Richardson Park
  2. The 1401 S. State Impact Zone
  3. Coliseum Park DPFA
  4. Poo Alley
  5. Wabash, South of 16th

Each of these sites, some of which are ongoing areas of poo crisis, others that ebb and flow, is created by someone, or several someones, who can be located within a specific geographic pool of residents of the South Loop.

Take MRJ Park, #1 – that site can be assigned to residents of the northern end of the Dearborn Park II development.

Site #2 – ha! 1401 S. State.

And Poo Alley, Site #4 – that one can be assigned to Dearborn Tower (1530 S. State), with residents of Burnham Station and Dearborn Mews perhaps also contributing.

This suggests that it could be possible to use a targeted strategy to address the (local) problem of orphan poo. Find a developing poo-crisis at some location?  Then identify the dog owners in the buildings that lie within the poo-radius. Distribute informational leaflets. Talk to them. Instead of writing angry letters about the ‘torrent of dog urine and feces turning [the] urban lawn into a fetid, stinking mire of matted, brown mush‘, a poo-advocate could simply notify the 25 (say) surrounding dog-households to put each on notice that one of them was creating a developing poo-crisis.

Prediction: problem solved.


Unicode character ‘pile of poo’

This is too cool. We now have an internationally recognized Unicode character ‘PILE OF POO‘.

The bad news?  The only font that I can find that supports this new, internationally recognized, and computationally defined character symbol for Poo is ‘Symbola‘. That’s fine, I guess. You can download the font files and install them on your own computer so that you can write a Word doc incorporating the symbol. But it means that we can’t use this symbol on our site because your browser probably won’t support it!  (You just get this:


Science meets poo. Poo loses.

Science meets poo. Poo loses. 

The AshPoopie is coming! 

What is the AshPoopie, you ask? We’re glad you did!


Quite simply, the AshPoopie turns your dog’s poop into a sterile pile of ash.

Continue reading ‘Science meets poo. Poo loses.’