As a dog owner, Beth Herriman always thought that while it was a far cry from glamorous, carrying bags of dog poop was just par for the course.

But when she started fostering Bella and Angie, two timid basset hound sisters with a propensity for nervous pooping, she found herself struggling to get multiple bags of dog waste into the few carriers on the market while Bella and Angie wrapped their leashes around her legs.

“It was just really bad,” she said.

When Bella and Angie became permanent residents of the Herrimans’ Cape Elizabeth home, and Herriman realized walks with multiple bathroom stops were going to be part of her life long term, she looked around in the local pet shops for an alternative but couldn’t find anything that was “stupid easy.”

So she decided to make something herself.

The dooloop, inspired by a potato masher Herriman saw at the local hardware store, is a simple plastic loop designed to clip onto a leash to easily carry several used dog waste bags. It retails for $8.95.

“Everybody carries poop, but people just assume it’s part of the gig because there really isn’t anything on the market that’s either small enough or easy enough” to manage, she said.

Herriman doesn’t have any official business marketing or sales training, but she jumped in feet first, and in 2019, launched the product at SuperZoo, North America’s most-attended pet industry trade show.

“It was kind of like, I’ve been home with kids and my husband has been traveling for years. We moved around a lot so I’ve just not had a job. I was trying to find something to do and finally, I have an idea,” she said. So she went with it.

The dooloop can now be found locally in 22 Maine stores, including Fish and Bone, Bayside Bark, and Uncommon Paws. She sells the product in stores across the U.S. and in almost a dozen other countries, and now, after some reluctance, on Amazon.

“I didn’t want to put it on Amazon because everybody told me it’s like the superhighway to getting knocked off, but then the pandemic hit,” she said.

Sure enough, she has started seeing riffs on it from China.

“The jungle has found me,” she said.

Still, business is booming and Herriman estimates she has sold roughly 40,000 dooloops, aided by recent mentions in People and Real Simple magazines.

“I’ve been trying to get out the word because it feels like it’s kind of the perfect time,” she said.

With so much of the country’s workforce now working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for dogs is higher than ever. More dogs mean more walks, which means more poops to scoop.

Plus, when fear around the virus started picking up speed, she noticed more bags of waste on the road, left behind by careless owners who didn’t want to carry them and passed over by people who didn’t want to throw them away.

“Everybody’s washing their groceries, nobody wants to pick up a random back of poop, which by definition is not awesome,” she said. “Then you throw a COVID overlay” and the dooloop becomes even more relevant.

“Such a simple idea solved a big stinkin’ problem for me,” one reviewer wrote. “My two greyhounds can’t seem to go for a walk without leaving at least one donation each – where to stash the trash until we got home was a yucky juggle. Now we can all enjoy the rest of the walk and have enough hands to wrangle dogs and not their doo.”

Another said their life got a lot easier once they started using the dooloop, which solved the daily problem of trying to juggle leash, bags, and sometimes an umbrella on walks.

Or, as one man said in a website testimonial, it provides an alternative to his previous dog doo carrying method.

“I got into a limo with some friends on the way to an event in DC. Something really smelled, but I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t know who it was. Turns out I had a bag of poop in my jacket pocket that I’d forgotten about. This is much better.”

The product is Mainemade and eco-friendly.

Herriman initially made a few prototypes with biomorph plastic, but perfected the design with the help of Patrick Santerre at Portland-based Arcadia Design- Works.

“I wanted it to look like it could go in (The Museum of Modern Art),” Herriman said. “I think he crushed it.”

John Hafford at Design- Lab in Millinocket created the logo and G&G Products in Kennebunk manufactures the loop using induction molding with eco-friendly, compostable plastic.

The packaging is made with recycled paper made in Augusta and much of the assembly is done by hand at Pieceworks Inc. in Montville or with the help of friends.

“As a small business with a new classification of product, trying to get out there without built-in infrastructure is challenging,” Herriman said. “My hope is that while there are going to be cheap versions, it’s starting to happen, people will want a dooloop. It shows that you can still manufacture things in the U.S. that are mass (produced), keep them affordable and yet do it in an eco-friendly, worker-friendly way.”

Right now, it’s just a one-woman show, but Herriman hopes to grow dooloop into a company with an “army of multiples instead of an army of one who calls in the cavalry for different things.”

She’s already working on the next phase for the product: The dooloop 2, which will hold a roll of reusable bags as well. She will also be expanding the color options (purple has proved to be high-demand from the Korean market) and has her sights set on flushable bags.

Hannah LaClaire — 207-504- 8238 Twitter: @hannah_laclaire

“Everybody carries poop, but people just assume it’s part of the gig because there really isn’t anything on the market that’s either small enough or easy enough.”