Sam Johnson's job title is unique: President and Scoop Master.
Except he's not in the ice cream business. He's in the dog poop business. And tomorrow, the business he started in 1994 -- Pet Scoop, advertised as "Denver's most reliable pooper scooper service" -- will celebrate its millionth yard cleanup with an Ed McMahon-like surprise for one lucky client and his or her dog.
"We're reaching this huge milestone of the one millionth cleanup, which is unprecedented in our industry," Johnson says.
Johnson started the business when he was in school at the University of Colorado Denver, earning his M.B.A. He was in school full-time and needed a job he could do on his own schedule. He settled on poop scooping. "Denver loves their dogs," he explains.
It was meant as a short-term gig but, he says, "by the time I graduated, I really could see the potential of the business, so I decided to continue with it. The first few years were a bit of a struggle, but we persevered and continued to grow the business and we have now grown into one of the largest dog waste removal services in the country."
Pet Scoop cleans both residential and commercial yards. The residential price depends on the number of dogs and the frequency of the scooping. One dog once a week is $9.25 per week. Four dogs twice a week is $23 per week.
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Over the years, Johnson and his crew have collected tons (literally!) of poop -- and stories. A favorite involves one scooper's run-in with the cops. He was cleaning a yard in Aurora and a suspicious neighbor called the police. An officer responded and asked the scooper, known in the biz as a "technician," what was in his bag. Poop, the scooper said, but the cop was unconvinced. "The police officer reached into the bag to see what was in there and then discovered he was telling the truth," Johnson recalls.
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In the line of duty, scoopers have dealt with broken bags, poop showers and interesting discoveries. Pet Scoop finds all sorts of things in dog doody, Johnson says, including money, chewed-up underwear and crayons. "I actually once found a whole corn cob," Johnson says, "which probably didn't feel too good." Pet Scoop will also alert owners if their dog's poop looks abnormal. Johnson says his technicians have saved the lives of several dogs who were able to get early treatment for various illnesses, such as cancer.
Tomorrow's one millionth cleanup extravaganza celebration should, if all goes according to plan, be a big surprise for the winner. We know who it is but we're not telling! He or she will be the recipient of a bunch of balloons, a doggie gift basket and a giant certificate for a free year of poop scooping services. That's the shit.
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