A few weeks ago, I yelled at a stranger in the park.
I was out walking Gracie during my lunch break, and I saw another woman who was apparently up to the same. After her dog—all white and fluffy—squatted, the pair walked away. “Are you going to pick that up?” I yelled behind them.
The woman turned around with a “you-talkin’-to-me?” sort of look. “Are you going to pick up your dog’s poop?” I repeated.
“Oh. No,” she responded, strolling away.
I was furious. I wanted to say something else, but nature was calling Gracie’s name and so we had to keep walking so she could finish what we came for. On our way back home, with Gracie relieved and me still furious, the woman and her dog again crossed our path. “Did you clean it up?”
“No.” She looked surprised I wasn’t letting it go.
“You’re seriously going to leave your dog’s shit in the middle of the park, for kids and other dogs to walk through?”
“You know that’s illegal, right? You know that it’s a major health hazard?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I don’t … handle poop.”
“Guess what, lady?” I was shouting by now. “Dogs poop. If you don’t want to handle poop, maybe you shouldn’t have a dog!”
“Well … I’m not picking it up, so …”
“So then don’t bring your dog back here. Ever. In fact, you should leave right now.”
And she did, with me more-or-less chasing her as she went.
In the weeks since, I’ve seen this girl in the park a handful of times. Generally she tries to avoid me; last night, clearly not recognizing me (maybe because I was without Gracie) she asked me about a community event taking place and I resisted the urge to yell at her there and then, just like I have every time I’ve seen her following the initial confrontation. It’s not that she didn’t deserve my ire—she totally did, and I only wish some of my neighbors had been in the park at the time to witness the incident—it’s just that I’d prefer not to wind up in jail, or Gracie in the pound, if things escalate.
So I’m implementing a new policy: If I see this girl, or anyone else, letting their dogs poop in the park and not cleaning up after it; and if after having this pointed out the people still refuse to pick up after their dogs, I will photograph them and their dogs, make them into signs, and post them on every bulletin board in the park as well as on my park’s Facebook page and wherever else I see fit. I will let the world know what kind of a dog owner you are. You will be shamed into picking up your dog’s doo-doo. No bag? No problem: dozens of neighbors will be happy to make sure you don’t want for a receptacle. You will be responsible, goddammit.
Before I had a dog, people who behaved like this bothered me, but I generally let it slide. In the world of Gracie, I can’t let it go. And all of this makes me wonder: Good lord, what the hell kind of parent am I going to be?
Kennel Confidential is a regular column documenting the adoption of a shelter dog by two KeyPulp editors. Leave your dog-rearing stories and tips in the comments section below!
Photo by author, remixed with Instagram.