ScooperDude has been scooping up dog doo in a professional capacity since 2003. Before then, he owned a construction business. While surfing the Web for construction tools, he came across Pooper-Scooper.com, an international directory of dog waste removal services. "I thought, hey, this doesn't sound so bad. I ran some numbers on the calculator and realized I could actually make some money doing this."
So ScooperDude, aka Grady Moorer, invested in a few newspaper ads, some business cards, a custom-made ScooperDude sticker for his Ford pick-up, and embarked on a new career.
"I love it," Moorer says. "I make my own hours, I get to work outside, and when I go into these yards, the dogs are just tickled to death to see me."
He's not the only professional pooper scooper in the Charlotte area. There's also Dan Williams, self-styled caped crusader who dons a silly outfit and calls himself Scooperman.
Only in America can you find guys like ScooperDude and Scooperman, whose "can-doo" entre-manure-ial spirits led to their seizing an opportunity and carving out an unlikely niche for themselves. And only in America will you find organizations like the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (aPaws.org), which sells its services by warning that dog feces is more than just an eyesore and olfactory nuisance, it's full of bacteria and parasites that transmit diseases and pollute urban streams. Moorer and Williams say they're making Charlotte a cleaner, healthier place to live — one turd at a time.
When Moorer started ScooperDude, he figured he'd be working primarily in affluent neighborhoods such as Myers Park and Dilworth. But he says many of his clients are middle-class, dual-income couples with kids and hectic schedules.
"If you only have 15 minutes of free time a night, wouldn't you rather play with your kids than pick up dog poop?" he asks.
Moorer, 56, says he actually prefers blue-collar customers to wealthy snobs who can't relate to a working man. "They (blue-collar customers) know you have to have that check in order to eat," he says. "I had one customer bounce a check for $65 - and he had a Hummer in the driveway."
As Moorer works his way to the back yard, zeroing in on the canine calling cards with laser-like precision, I ask him how many customers he has.
"That's something I don't really tell anybody," he says. "I don't want my competition to know."
"What do you think of Scooperman?"
"We're friendly," he says guardedly. "There's plenty of poop to go around."
Indeed there is. Across town, in the Plaza-Midwood area, Scooperman is also busy plying his trade. His scooping technique is a tad different from Moorer's. While Scooperman Williams walks in the same grid pattern, he uses a hoe instead of a rake to expertly flip the turds into a pan.
Before he became a poop expert, Williams, 44, worked at Florida's Kennedy Space Center in data management. Following the Challenger tragedy in 1986, he was laid off. Shortly after that, Williams and a buddy were sitting in the backyard, drinking beers and trying to come up with business ideas. His friend's dog did his dirty work, and Williams turned to his buddy and told him he ought to clean the mess up.
"I'd rather pay somebody to do it," his friend said.
A light bulb went off.
Williams started Pet Butler, which he ran for five years before he and his wife moved to Charlotte in 2003. He says that like any business, advertising is key — hence the Scooperman outfit, his "ISCOOP4U" license plate and "Got Poop" banner. Apparently, the goofy advertising has paid off. Williams says he has about 50 regular customers, including a Panthers player and NASCAR driver.
"What do you do with all the poop?" I ask.
"Before I became a Christian, I'd send it to my ex-wife," he says with a laugh.
Actually, in keeping with EPA regulations, both ScooperDude and Scooperman double-bag the waste and take it to a landfill.
Did he ever think he'd be scooping poop for a living?
"No. But they pay people to do everything else, why not this?"
Dan, my man - I ask myself the same question every day.
Did You Know The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (www.aPaws.org) is a trade association of professional poop scoopers. Each year, aPaws hosts the Pooper Scooper Round-Up, a three-day convention featuring some of the big dogs of the pet waste removal industry. In addition to workshops and guest speakers is a contest called "Turd Herding," wherein contestants compete to see who can scoop the most poop in the least amount of time. The winner receives the coveted Golden Shovel.
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