My apologies for the vulgarity in the title, but please be forewarned that the word “poop” will come up a few times in this post.
Back when I lived in the city, in a development of townhomes grouped together quite cozily, one of my biggest pet peeves was people who walked their dogs and didn’t clean up after them.
I recall on one occasion opening my window when witnessing an owner letting their dog do its business and not picking it up. I cleared my throat and shouted “EXCUSE ME! Are you going to clean that up?”
They ignored me and just jogged into the distance like it never happened. As much as I would have liked to run out, pick it up and throw it at them, I like to think I’m classier than that.
But it was a next door neighbour with a German shepherd that pushed the boundaries and my buttons. They’d let their dog roam on a very long leash, into my backyard to relieve itself.
The burns in the grass from the urine were bad enough but it was the accumulating fecal matter that was the issue, despite my repeated objections and requests for them to clean up after their dog.
The only time they seemed to respond to my texts was after a snowfall, when the droppings weren’t visible anymore, and say, “Sorry, we’ll try better next time” … How thoughtful of them!
They tried to gaslight me into thinking that buying fencing to enclose my yard was my responsibility. This was not exactly a simple suggestion: this was an enhancement that needed to be filed with the condo corporation for approval, and the fence needed to look identical to existing fencing maintained by the condo corporation.
I countered with the simple logic that there wasn’t a need to enclose the yard until they moved in. Sadly, they were immune to my intended guilt trips!
To me, the no-brainer solution seemed to be for them to shorten the leash. To them, that wasn’t possible.
They preferred to keep the starting point of the tether in the yard with the long leash reaching into the house, so they basically didn’t have to step outside to let the dog out to relieve itself. However, the long leash allowed the dog into my yard.
I counter-proposed that they change the tether to the deck and keep a shorter leash, still enabling them to put the dog on the leash from inside the house, but only allowing the dog in their yard. For some reason, I never got a response on this idea.
Despite my attempts at expressing politeness, unhappiness, and resolve at upholding condo rules and bylaws about cleaning up after their pet, nothing seemed to work.
Needless to say, the neighbours occupied far too much of my headspace and were the topic of several therapy sessions.
Boundary setting was not my strongest skill and when I tried to assert a position (a seemingly logical one), it stressed me out. It was that delicate balance between making a point and trying to maintain a harmonious relationship with the neighbours that kept me up at night.
To me, cleaning up after your dog, especially on someone else’s property is a basic principle of civility and responsible home ownership. To me, that shouldn’t really need explanation or elaboration on my part.
Fortunately, they sold their place after a relatively short stay. On moving day, I didn’t wish them well or say goodbye. I just was relieved that my days of picking up German shepherd poop were over.
The great irony was in the next chapter: The move to the country where wildlife roams freely, at any time of day or night, and the reality check that wild animals are not terribly picky as to where they decide to relieve themselves.
When taking Ivy the Wonder Cat on a health walk in an effort to keep her weight in check, I cannot tell you how many times she has found “gifts” of all sizes left behind by the wildlife using our property as a short cut between farmers’ fields.
She seems to have a fascination in sniffing it out which makes me pull gently on the leash just to ensure she doesn’t actually make contact with it before she comes back into the house. Euww!
Whether the gift was left behind by a groundhog, a raccoon, a skunk or a fox, it really makes no difference. They aren’t the family pet of a nearby homeowner who should know better. There is no one to blame.
That being the case, when wildlife leaves us a gift, I clean it up… no questions, no concerns and no resulting anxiety.
In some ways it feels like a full circle moment. The humour of the situation isn’t lost on me: How many times did I lose my mind in the city over animal poop whereas now, in the country, like it or not, I’ve had to accept that poop happens… and clean it up myself!
Mother Nature really does have a weird sense of humour, doesn’t she?
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