Dogs do three things really well: They sleep, they eat and well, they poop.
It was that last thing that troubled Nick Hayes. One of his family chores was cleaning up after Buzzworth, his Sheltie.
So after coming home inspired by a science fair one day, Nick, then 11, decided to do something about it. He wanted to invent something people could actually use.
``The other projects, they couldn't use them for anything, except for maybe a grade,'' Nick, now 13, recalled, inspiring a chuckle from his father, Kent, and mother, Ginger.
Vowing to make his chore easier, Nick created the first of about 150 models of the Yard Scoop, an invention his family and their partner Bill Pryor now are marketing.
The first Yard Scoop was a crude version of what it is today, fashioned from a stick and a coffee can. It did the job but ended up messy itself.
The model that made the cut doesn't have that problem. With just a tug, the disposable parts of the Yard Scoop -- a plastic cup and a newspaper bag -- go into the trash along with the waste.
``You don't have anything to clean,'' Nick's father said, touting the invention not just as a pooper scooper but as a general yard tool.
Hayes remembers when Nick put together the first model.
``We all thought it was cute,'' he said.
Family friends started inquiring about the invention.
``I had a friend who was a contractor,'' Kent Hayes said, ``and he said, `Why don't you make me one of those?' I said, `It's a tin can and a stick. Trust me, I think you can do it.'''
But Hayes soon realized that maybe Nick was on to something and began tinkering with ways to improve his son's creation.
The Yard Scoop, made almost entirely of materials produced in the Lawrence and Topeka area, comes with four paper bags and four plastic cups and is sold for $19.95 at lawn stores and pet stores. Workers at Cottonwood package the product. Work-release prisoners are helping assemble the tools. It's Hayes' way of helping people in the process. He has spent his career as a criminologist and consultant working with juvenile delinquents and others and knows how hard it is for people who've been in prison to find work.
The Hayeses, who now also have a golden retriever puppy, and Pryor have manufactured ``a couple thousand'' of the yard tools.
``We're going to take this year to figure out how to market it,'' Hayes said.
Nick, the inventor, gets a piece of each tool sold. Chores do pay off.
-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.