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The Canine in Conversation
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NASA photograph of Neil Armstrong's footprint on the lunar surface
figure 1  


step in it. Put your foot in it, make a mess, go where you were not supposed to go.

I suppose that stepping in it could refer to inadvertently stepping in just about any kind of feces. However, in our largely urban, suburban, and exurban society, if you step in any kind of feces, it's likely to be canine. Felines bury their poop and, in areas where you are likely to encounter it, most of us are careful to avoid the other mammalian scat that is around: human.

Stepping in it is kind of like putting one's foot in one's mouth. We just hope that you don't do that after you have stepped in it; that would be a faux pas indeed. The consequences of stepping in it affect the person who does the stepping, at least for the most part.

Unlike putting one's foot in one's mouth—that is, saying something thoughtless or ill-advised and most likely inflicting pain or embarrassment on another—stepping in it seems not to be a matter of error and refers instead to a situation that could have been avoided. One could have watched where they stepped, but the error seems to be one of omission: failure to pay attention. Foot-in-mouth is more of an error of commission: that of saying aloud that which is better left unsaid.




About the illustration: This is perhaps the most famous footprint of our time: Neil Armstrong's first step on Luna (“one small step for man...”). Some might say that General Armstrong stepped in it big time. As the National Space Science Data Center web site regarding Apollo 11 says, “The footprints left by the astronauts in the Sea of Tranquility are more permanent than most solid structures on Earth.”reference 1 Photograph: by Neil A. Armstrong. “NASA Photo Id As11-40-5878.” This image or file is a work of a NASA Astronaut or employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain. 1. United States. National Space Science Data Center. 1999. 30th Anniversary of Apollo 11: 1969 - 1999. Lunar and Planetary Science. United States. National Space Science Data Center. Accessed Mar 19 2002 from planetary/lunar/apollo_11_30th.html
see also: curb your dog; scooping technician Last updated: July 10, 2008
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