We adopted a shelter dog last December, one week after our sweet little Doxie died. This is a larger, mixed-breed, Boxer-looking dog. She needs to be walked daily. She’s not yet a year old, so she’s still learning. And she’s wonderful.
I take pride in the way we’ve trained our girl. Likewise, I am proud of our diligent poop-picking-upping. I have a cute bone shaped poop-bag dispenser on her leash which I totally scoffed at until I got a dog who requires walking.
Today, as with any day, I walked to the corner a block away and could see that Pep was doing the tell-tale poop dance. The house we were near is unique in that there’s a retaining wall, and the house is elevated a few feet in the front above the road. So, there’s no grass, just a nine inch strip of neglected garden space before the wall. Pep relieved herself on the sidewalk, facing the mangy plants. As I was dutifully picking up the excrement, the homeowners returned.
I had been listening to a recently discovered playlist on my earbuds. I saw the humans were speaking to me, but couldn’t hear them. I thought it might be the usual friendly neighborhood chat. It wasn’t.
They were aggressively reprimanding me for allowing my dog to poop on their property. The woman was especially upset that my dog was in that nine inch strip of poorly-maintained garden space.
“She pooped on the sidewalk.” I clarified.
Unneighborly neighbor (UN): I don’t even let my dogs poop there. That’s my garden space. I own that.
Me: She did not poop there. She pooped on the sidewalk. She’s a dog. She’s going to poop wherever she poops.
UN: You’re holding the leash, pull her so she doesn’t poop on my property.
Me: You need to relax.
UN: YOU need to relax.
Me: (As I started to walk away) You’re welcome for picking up the poop.
UN: Leaving me with the residue that my dogs will step in and now get worms. Do your research. Look it up.
I walked away a little stunned that a neighbor would be so confrontational about a non-situation. My dog pooped on the sidewalk in front of her house, which is public property. I picked it up and left no visible smear or residue. What she thought she saw was us trampling her garden space. She assumed I left poop residue for her dog to then get worms. She said she didn’t let her own dogs go to that space, so I’m not even sure what her point was.
This lady came out of her pickup truck ready to let me have it. The thing is, she was poking at me with a false sequence of events. She was not to be swayed with fact or truth, yet she was right and justified in her own mind. And that was all she needed.
A simple “Hi, thanks for picking up the poop. We would prefer it if your dog didn’t poop around our house” would have been a completely different experience. Instead I got an earful about events that didn’t happen the way she described them. Guess what? She lost all credibility and appeared a crazy lady by opting to argue what was not real.
Perhaps she’s had repeated experiences with people smearing poop into her property. (I can totally see this if anyone else has had a similar run-in.) Perhaps her dog is susceptible to worms. Perhaps she’s an anti-vaxxer. All could be true.
None of them are my problem.
I don’t plan to change my walking routine. I can’t fix irrational. There is no arguing with someone who is blind to truth and reality.
In telling this story to my kids they repeated back some advice I had given to them about arguing with ignorant folks. Should I ever be confronted by these people again, I’ll simply say, “Okay. Sure.” And walk away.