Help! I live on a parkway with signs posted on either end to pick up after your dog. Today, while I was out washing my car, a regular offender walked by, letting both dogs leave a trail of doo doo. I am very unconfrontational, but I decided to address the situation. I said (very pleasantly) “Excuse me, but did you know you could be fined for not picking up after your dog?”
She kept walking, I said “Excuse me.” She started marching and I said, “Can you hear me?” Then she said, “I don’t have time for you.” I said “I don’t have time to clean up after your dogs.”
She started running away. I said, “How mature is that?” When she got far away, she started shrieking at the top of her lungs, didn’t understand a word she said but all I can think is, great! The first time I address this and I get a lunatic. Now I am worried she is nuts & may plan some sort of revenge and that I am stuck cleaning up after her dogs from now on. Any advice?
Friendly Reminder – Altadena, CA
She was probably embarrassed when you told her to pick up after her dog and she didn’t handle it well. But believe me, she heard you. I once got a friendly reminder in my mailbox that said, “When we all keep our lawns mowed, it raises property values for everyone.” I was mortified, and for a few days, I wondered which one of my neighbors had left the note. But you knwo what? I kept my lawn mown, weeded, edged and the bushes trimmed after that. And now, it’s me looking at other lawns, thinking that the homeowners shouldn’t let them get so shaggy.
The point is that she may have handled the encounter badly, but she got the message. And since she has such a strong aversion to public reprimands, it’s unlikely that she continues to allow her dogs to foul the public areas (she’ll probably change her route and you won’t even see her again). But if she does, call your police department non-emergency line and ask them what the best way to proceed is. If she has a regular routine, tell them what time of day she normally walks her dog in your area, and describe her and her dog. The police normally have more important things to do than chase pickup law violators, but if it’s a slow day, they may send a car over. Or you could tell her she’s been reported (whether she has or not). That might put some sticking power on your point of view.
As far as retribution goes, I wouldn’t worry. Of course, if she threatens you or follows you or harasses you in any way, it would be a good idea to have a complaint on record with the police department in case she accelerates things. Meanwhile, don’t feel bad about dealing nicely with things like this that affect the rest of us. We need social sanctions for unacceptable behavior because so some people simply don’t learn good manners at home. This is why clusters of giggling teenagers who race up and down the aisles and talk on their phones in the back movie theaters continue to disturb other patrons during movies. If more people would confront them, they wouldn’t do it. You were right to remind this woman (nicely) to pick up after her dog.
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