So … How Are We Supposed to Open Doggy Poop Bags Now?

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I’m sorry to say the word “poop” to you, but I’m having an issue. And, I’m sorry again, I know this issue is of essentially complete unimportance relative to most other things currently in flux.

The fact is, though, that this will continue to come up in my life two to three times per day for the foreseeable future, and I’d like to attempt to solve it now if possible. I hope it will be of some help to you, too. Here is the issue: I can’t open poop bags anymore. Now that my formerly go-to method — licking my thumb and forefinger and rubbing the tops of the bag apart, aided by the wetness — is not an option due to the risks posed by the current rapidly spreading global pandemic, the task has become impossible. I’m left standing on the sidewalk tugging at what seems to be a single sheet of plastic, pleading with it to just please give me a break and become a bag; please, just this once, just please — give me a damn break and BECOME A BAG, PLEASE!!!! So.

How am I supposed to open them now?

I asked a few dog-having co-workers if this was an issue for them, as well, and I’ll admit the results were mixed. It seems there are at least some people out there who have the ability to effortlessly open poop bags. Well, la di da. Isn’t it so nice that, I guess, these people have never sobbed in frustration over a pile of their dog’s excrement at 3 a.m. because at that point they hadn’t figured out the lick-the-fingers trick, which is no longer a good option, which left them to, at that point, in desperation, tear open several bags in a row before finding one that they were able to open? Isn’t that wonderful for these adept-fingered people?

The poop-bag frustration throws a wrench into what is otherwise a sanity-saving activity, as the only time I leave my apartment now is to walk my dog. But over the past two weeks or so, I have figured out some new poop bag hacks that I’d like to share with you. There are two.

1. Lick the bag directly.

The first is that I lick the bag directly. Like it’s an envelope. I know it sounds bad, but trust me — it looks worse. You just have to lick a part of the poop bag that was safely tucked away, free of germs, other than whatever germs were on it to begin with.

2. Open the bag the normal way (with wetted fingers) when you are in your apartment, and put it, already open, into your pocket.

The next is to open the bag the normal way (with wetted fingers) when you are in your apartment, and put it, already open, into your pocket. (Then wash your hands.) The only problem with this method is that it demands you remember to do it. I’m not sure how good you are at that; I’m not particularly great at remembering, so I am often left to revert to method one: Lick the bag directly.

Assuming you do not want to lick a poop bag, I reached out to the environmentally friendly poop bag company Earth Rated and the chic-pet-essentials brand Wild One to see if they might be able to provide some tips.

Wild One spokesperson Emily Dinowitz told me the new poop-bag-opening difficulty was actually something their team had been “chatting about on Slack,” and she was therefore able to crowdsource a few ideas for us. Here are two:

1. Use friction to rub the bag apart. Carefully apply friction in opposing directions with hands or fingers. The two-handed “start a fire” motion can be helpful!

2. Open bags before leaving your home for a walk. Keep it doubly clean and use the open bags to touch all the doorknobs when leaving your apartment building or home, then pick up the poop when the moment comes.

I’ve since attempted these, and I can say the first option worked somewhat miraculously for me the first time. “Beginner’s luck,” I suppose, because it stopped working after that. Damn my fingers and the current situation. The second method is an even better version of the one I’ve already been attempting to employ. Very smart to use it to open all of the doorknobs. Of course, you have to touch all the knobs on your way back, but, well. Poop bags can’t solve everything; I’m sorry.

Vanessa Loyer, a spokesperson for Earth Rated, had a few ideas too. “First, we have the snapping method, which works wonders,” she wrote in an email. “Try pinching the corner of the bag with your middle or pointer finger and thumb then squeeze downwards like you want to snap your fingers.” I hope this method works for you. I think my fingers must be particularly … dry or … bad.

“Second,” Loyer said, “friction plays a huge part, so placing your thumb on one side of the bag and your fingers on the other side then rub them together. This should open it up every time.” This, I assume, is how my lucky poop-bag-opening co-workers do it. Maybe it works for you. I hope it does.

I read an article online a few days ago on “The Woof Blog” that suggested, among other tips, touching the wetness of the ground if it had recently rained and using that wetness to open the bag. Hm. This morning, it rained, and — unable to have immediate success with any other method — I tried it. I stuck my fingers into the wet dirt and brought them to the bag, rubbing them, and the dirt, and whatever else was in the dirt, together, causing friction and high levels of dirtiness. It worked!

I went back in triumph to my apartment, having successfully discarded my dog’s feces, fingers covered in dirt, whole hands and body covered in who knows what else. I don’t particularly recommend the dirt method, but I think you’d agree — it’s comforting to know there is always a way.

So … How Are We Supposed to Open Doggy Poop Bags Now?