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DEAR ANT: I live in a very nice suburban community. I have a neighbor who walks his dog by my house and for some reason, he likes to poop in my yard. This would not be a problem except that he doesn’t pick it up. THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY. I don’t have a dog now, but when I did, I picked up my dog’s poop. I don’t know this guy except to say hello. I’ve dropped subtle hints when I’ve seen him around and nothing has changed. What should I do? We even have a pooper-scooper law in my town. I’m tempted to call the police. —POOP HATING DOG LOVER
DEAR “PHDL”: First of all, when you say, …”he likes to poop in my yard,” let’s assume you mean the dog and not your neighbor. My advice would be very different if it were the other way around. Anyway, this is not an uncommon problem nor is it unique to this generation.
When I was a little girl (and I’m not going to tell you exactly how long ago that was, but suffice it to say there was no such thing as cable television and “Reality T.V.” was the 6 o’clock news) we had this very same problem and it drove my father to extreme measures. The family who lived across the street from us had a cocker spaniel named Buffy. Buffy was never walked on a leash, he simply was let out of the house to roam the neighborhood and do his business. We always knew when he was “done” because he would sit on their front porch and bark incessantly until someone eventually let him back in the house. My parents, Ada and Albert, are typical Italian-Americans who always have taken tremendous pride in their home. We had a beautifully manicured, weed-free lawn, a prolific vegetable garden, and a flower garden that my dad spent hours and hours maintaining after a full day at work. I know you know where I’m headed with this story.
For some reason, and probably because we had the nicest yard in the neighborhood, Buffy and his canine pals decided to make our front yard their toilet. My dad was mowing the lawn one Saturday morning, like he did every week, when from inside the house my mom and I heard what sounded as if my dad was going completely nuts. We ran to the front door to find that quite by accident he’d navigated the lawn mower right over a pile of dog poop. Apparently he’d hit it in such a way as to cause poop to spray out from under the mower leaving a disgusting mess on everything in its wake…including my father. You’ve heard of temporary insanity? It’s real. By the time mom and I got to the scene, dad was running back and forth between our front yard and Buffy’s front yard with shovels full of dog poop. I’m not kidding. He’d pick up a load of dog poop from our front lawn, and with the skill of a seasoned lacrosse player, cradle it in his large garden spade, sprint across the street, launch it into Buffy’s yard, pivot and run back to our yard to do it all over again. He repeated this until all the poop was gone from our yard and returned to its rightful owner. He did this all while screaming things in a combination of Italian and English, the likes of which I am too much of a lady to include here. It is a sight that I will remember for as long as I live.
I’m not suggesting that this is how you should handle your situation, but please take note that dropping subtle hints is not going to get you anywhere either. You need to confront this fellow directly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a gentle sort of manner. Since you are certain that this particular gentleman neighbor of yours and his dog are the culprits of the crime, I feel certain you are well acquainted with their daily walk cycle. Try timing your next visit to the mailbox so you just happen to bump into your neighbor and his best friend. You might initiate a neighborly exchange of pleasantries with something like, “Oh hello. Isn’t it a lovely day for a walk?” He most likely will stop and agree. “I’ve noticed your dog seems to love my yard and I see you’ve forgotten your poop bag again.” Next, pull a zip-lock bag out of your pocket and handing it to him, continue the conversation, “It just so happens I have this bag in my pocket.” Here’s where you smile and add, “Please allow me to give it to you. You see, I’d hate for you to get home after a long walk and need to come all the way back here again just to clean up after your dog.”
If this advice doesn’t produce the results you want, you may need to take action a l’Albert. Pick up the poop yourself and deposit it into a clear zip-lock bag. Deliver it to your neighbor’s front door with a note attached that reads: I BELIEVE THIS BELONGS TO YOU.
Best of luck and remember, “Poop Happens.” ––ANT