The dog urinals from Brno that are conquering the world
Brno, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, and Calgary – these are some of the cities where an ingenious invention by two Moravian dog owners has spread. Their patented dog urinal prevents unsightly stains and nasty odours from sullying public spaces.
Ten years ago, a group of dog owners in Brno were out walking their canine companions when the subject of the tell-tale stains left on the facades of houses and the unmistakable stench of dog urine came up. They discussed the fact that it has become standard practice to pick up your dog’s excrement, but there still wasn’t any hygienic solution for dealing with pee.
One member of the group, František Tomeček, had an idea after noticing that his dog wouldn’t urinate in the same spot after it had rained and the smell was gone.
His colleague, graphic designer Šárka Fialová, explains what happened next.
“He came and said, ‘Look what I invented! It’s a pole with some holes in it, and if a dog pees on it, some of the pee stays inside and it leaves a scent trail. Dogs will like it firstly because it’s a pole, and secondly because the scent mark will stay there and won’t disappear with rain or wind.”
Most of the other dog owners in their group laughed at the idea, but Fialová was intrigued. She decided to help Tomeček with the prototype, and 10 years later, their dog urinals are protected by a European patent and have been sold as far away as Canada.
There are two types of urinals, Fialová explains.
“One is designed for private use and can be used in gardens, for example, where owners have their dog running around and it pees on trees and damages plants. That one is a wooden pole with holes in it that you stick into the ground, and when the dog pees on it, some of the pee goes in the holes and stays inside, so afterwards the dog can smell it and he has a reason to pee there again.”
This type of urinal was too small to be used by towns and cities and could easily be pulled out of the ground, so Fialová and Tomeček made a second type – a large concrete bollard that resembles the base of streetlamps – a well-known favourite pee spot for dogs. Like with the earlier wooden version, it contains holes, and when a dog pees in it and some gets inside, it creates a pungent draw for other dogs. The urinal therefore attracts dogs for two reasons, says Fialová.
“Dogs like the shape of the urinal, but they also like the smell. Even if they come to the urinal three or five times a day, they have a reason to urinate on it again, because they can smell the pee of the last dog that went there, and they want to mask the smell with their own to mark it as their territory. And this way, the dog always pees in one pre-defined place.”
Once the first dog has used the urinal, others follow like moths to a flame, as the smell of another dog's urine attracts them – but getting the first pioneer dog to do so is sometimes no walk in the park. That’s where Tomeček’s own Jack Russell Terrier, Lumík, comes in. He was the very first dog to use a urinal and is highly experienced. He has been leading the way in several Czech cities, showing his canine friends the path towards a more civilised future.
However, as with their human equivalent, these urinals are only intended for male dogs. Females, since they mostly pee sitting down and generally don’t try to mark their territory by urinating on everything in sight, don’t cause the same kind of unsightly visible marks as males do.