These troopers respond to one specific type of problem — and it’s brown. Shannon Useman and her husband Conrad are the island’s new self-named Pooper Troopers.
“Poo is everywhere, it’s not that serious,” said Shannon Useman.
She and her husband chose the name after they saw there was a need for yard-scooping services on Whidbey Island.
The idea came about through not-so-pleasant experiences Conrad had in his other job installing gutters.
He said it was a constant struggle to dodge his clients’ furry friends’ droppings.
One day he accidentally dropped a piece of gutter in one of those mounds.
Hearing his story got Shannon thinking.
About three weeks ago she officially formed the Pooper Troopers and has gained around 15 recurring clients who span the entire Rock. She visits these yards once every couple of weeks. She throws on her gloves, rubber bands two bags on her glittery-spray-painted scooper, grabs her rake and does her thing.
When Conrad is available, he helps too. It has been the couple’s goal to work together again after they both stopped working at a farm in Mount Vernon.
“We’re very tight-knit,” she said. “We’re always together 24/7, it’s just the way we are.”
Although it isn’t the most glamorous job, Shannon said she’s learning ways to make it easier.
“I try and control when I breathe in,” she said. “…It’s not the most horrendous thing I’ve ever been in front of. I’ve been in port-a-potties that are much worse.”
The time it takes her to finish a yard depends on its size and the number of dogs who use it, she said.
Her current jobs vary from 10 minutes to more than two hours.
She charges $25 for an average-sized yard, which is a half acre or less, and one dog. There’s another $2.50 for each additional dog and larger yard pricing is determined on a case-by-case basis.
So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive about a service many felt was missing.
She has even been asked if they’d be willing to pick up after small farm animals, such as pigs or goats — they are.
“It just tickles you, because that’s the kind of feedback you want to get,” she said.
At night, Shannon is taking online classes in pursuit of an accounting degree.
She said it’s been her and her husband’s dream to have a business of their own. And she couldn’t be happier that scooping poop is where that dream is headed.
If possible, they want to expand to other dog-related services, such as dog-walking. At home, they have a bouncy 9-month-old Chihuahua Shih Tzu mix named Yeti.
The little guy is small in stature, but Shannon said his personality is bigger than most canines she’s encountered.
Many of her clients are gone during the day while she comes to clean their yard, but often the dogs are still in the area with her — which she doesn’t mind in the least.
“The more the merrier,” she said.
She has noticed that many people in the area have at least one dog and a yard, and she appreciates being able to help them enjoy that space without encountering any un-welcomed surprises.
“You just feel so good at the end,” she said. “It’s like when you vacuum and sweep all the floors in your house.”
This story originally appeared in the South Whidbey Record, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.