Poop Happens

Look for Ask Ant Advice–not just another ordinary advice column every week in Friday posts.

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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


6 thoughts on “Poop Happens

  1. Dear Ant,
    Oddly enough this is happening to me. As you can imagine Hilton Head Island is full of part time people who own homes and come visit a couple of times a month. Our neighbor who happens to be a part timer has two dogs, a big one and a small one. She lets them out and they walk over and poop in our yard. Why is it when they have their own yard to poop in they poop in ours? Well needless to say we have done nothing about it but complain to ourselves about the situation.

    Are people really that unaware of what they are doing? Do you think they are just trying to get away with it?


  2. Kathy: Here’s my advice. Get your neighbors’ email addresses and use the SHARE button to send this particular post to both of them 🙂

    Other than your poop situation, I hope all is well! Glad you’re following the blog! Hugs to everyone!

  3. Ant,

    That’s great and calm advice, but I really loved your father’s reaction to mowing the poop. I’ve done that many times myself and it annoys the hell out of me, but then again it’s my dog’s poop so I can’t get too mad. But I remember those good old days when dogs roamed freely. For the most part poop on your lawn was just an ordinary hazard. My dog poops on your lawn; your dog poops on my lawn…we’re even, And practically everybody had a dog in those days because nobody ever took vacations and everybody’s family lived in the same town so you never needed anybody to look after your dog. To this day I can’t quite summon the courage to pick up my dog’s poop. Instead I’ve trained my dog to poop in our woods or to poop in a vacant lot 1/4 mile down the road (when I take her for a walk), but every once in a while “Brady” makes a deposit in the tall grass of my neighbor’s yard, and for some reason I find it hysterically funny.

    • Joe,
      You are right…for some reason dog poop is inherently funny. I trained my dog, Pudge (a.k.a. the Best Dog in the Entire Universe) to poop in the ivy in our backyard. Unfortunately, even at the ripe age of ten, she still likes to leave the occasional “deposit” in the living room. This has had the same effect on my fear of picking up the poop as systematic desensitization had on my fear of flying. If I can do it, you can do it. BE STRONG! PICK UP THE POOP! Have a great (even if it is just another ordinary) day! Thanks for reading.

  4. Ant-
    I just finished reading this entry and although I did not witness the event, I can clearly picture your father’s performance! I do recall Buffy, and fondly, his stout little red haired, freckled faced owner (God bless his soul). Thanks for the laugh and the memories.

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