Am I My Brother’s Pooper Scooper?

April 21, 2017

There’s a week worth of dog poop on the grass beneath my curbside mailbox. Again.

I’m not sure which neighbor is using our property as a doggy toilet, but it’s not nice.

When I first noticed piles of dog poop in the early spring, I just let sleeping poop lie, thinking the offender would notice the growing piles. Nope.  So I bought a “Curb Your Dog Sign” and added a sandwich bag containing a roll of doggy bags.

[Photo by Priscila Mateini via Creative Commons]

The next day, a woman in our development actually mentioned my sign on the neighborhood Facebook page, incredulous that someone’s incivility required an overt request. That post got 100 plus views and a significant number of angry emoticons and supportive comments, so I thought the issue was resolved.

Not so.  A new pile of dog droppings appeared on the other side of the driveway, primarily on the brick surrounding a flower bed.


I cleaned everything up and moved the sign from beneath the mailbox to the grass right in front of the brick-lined the flower bed.

After a few poop-free days, I assumed the dog and owner moved on to greener pastures, so I put the sign in the garage.

More than a week later, I found five days’ worth of droppings under the mailbox again. I returned the sign to that area, bagged all five piles but left the bright yellow doggy bags in the grass, right where the offending “gifts” were originally deposited.

For the week that the yellow bags sat beneath the “Curb Your Dog” sign, I thought about how I could further protect the sanctity of my grass.  Should I install fencing, spikes, chicken wire, or even a motion-activated dog whistle?  Should I invest in a video camera, aimed at this strip of grass between the sidewalk and the curb?

As my imagination soared, I realize that simply bagging the poop myself would take much less time.  And it would be the more Zen-Yoga-Jesus thing to do.  After all, what is the sound of one hand turning the other cheek for her neighbor–seventy times seven?

So now I will imagine that my mystery neighbor has spinal stenosis, making it excruciatingly painful to stoop down.  And even if my neighbor is perfectly healthy, I could never be petty about poop.


  1. Rozy

    April 21, 2017

    You are a good sport. Try sprinkling the area with a liberal layer of black pepper, or red pepper flakes to see if the dog will go somewhere else. That has worked with cats for me, not sure if it will for dogs, but as they use a lot of pee-mail to mark territory, perhaps it would work. My sympathies.

    • M2theH

      April 23, 2017

      I use cayenne on dog poop all the time. Our neighborhood has an ongoing dog poop feud. I spent the last Facebook round coming up with epic poo hashtags. Apparently the original poster didn’t find them funny and took the thread down.

      Dog poop is the bane of every neighborhood.

  2. Marm

    April 22, 2017

    You are a better woman than I am.

  3. spunky

    April 23, 2017

    Yuck. What a pain! I agree that the dog has scented your house, and possibly the 9 year old walking the dog to earn cash for a wheelchair for his disabled grandfather doesn’t even know what “curb your dog” means? Try putting some white vinegar in a spray bottle and liberally spray the area after you cleaned the droppings. That will kill the scent and should help redirect the pooch’s preferential pooping digs.

  4. Karen Austin

    April 24, 2017

    Rozy: Hmm. I haven’t heard of pepper as a deterrent. But I’m still trying to take a WWJD approach to dog poop, so I might just sing a hymn and clean up the poop.
    M2THEH: So, it’s not just my neighborhood that has renegade dogs (and their human caregivers).
    Marm: Oh, I have many flaws. Just ask my husband and kids.
    Spunky: Vinegar as a repellent. Maybe if I decide I just can’t “turn the other nostril” anymore, I’ll try vinegar and/or pepper.

  5. EmilyB

    April 26, 2017

    I always enjoy your posts, Karen. Your writing has a great combination of sass and humility, and I love it. Thanks for sharing .

  6. Heather O.

    April 28, 2017

    Could be a fox. This happened to us in northern Virginia. There was ALWAYS dog poop right outside near our back deck, in the common area we shared with other neighbors. Drove me crazy trying to figure out who would walk their dog back there and NEVER pick up the poop. Then I read that foxes will mark territory with poop, especially in open areas (like a lawn, or a large green common area). If it’s small poop, might be a fox.

  7. Karen Austin

    May 2, 2017

    EmilyB: Thanks for noticing issues of style and voice. That’s very kind of you.

    Heather O. We have had coyote sightings in our neighborhood just two weeks ago. They come for the rabbits that live in the green space that run behind the houses like a verdant alley. However, the scat looks more the size of a terrier than one of the wily relatives to the dog.

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