Dear Ann Cannon • I am in the middle of a potential conflict between neighbors. One neighbor walks her German Shepherd every morning, and I see it go to the bathroom on another neighbor’s front lawn. This person never cleans up after her dog. My other neighbor does not know it’s the German Shepherd. He has complained to me on several occasions how rude he thinks it is that people don’t pick up their dog’s feces. I think he may be tactfully accusing my Yorkie-poo of being the culprit, although it should be evident from the size of the unwanted deposits left on his lawn that my dog can’t be guilty. I have approached the German Shepherd owner and told her of our neighbor’s concern.
“He’ll get over it,” she said.
I don’t want to sell out my neighbor, whom I like, but I don’t want to be accused of being an irresponsible pet owner either. Looking for some guidance.
— Keeper of Neighborhood Secrets
Dear Keeper • Americans did a lot of things when I was a kid that are frowned upon now. They didn’t wear seat belts. They threw gum wrappers out of the car window. They smoked cigarettes in the locker room during halftime at the Super Bowl (I’m totally looking at you, Len Dawson!). They made a lot of Jell-O dishes and called them “salads.” They ate red meat like cows were going out of style. They put the kids outside in the morning with the dog and didn’t check up on them until it was time for dinner. And speaking of kids, nobody made them wear helmets when they rode their bikes. And speaking of dogs, nobody put them on leashes or cleaned up after them if they did their business on somebody else’s property.
That’s right. Dogs named Otto and Ginger and Gigi and Daisy and Ferd and Thor and Brutus freely roamed our neighborhood when I was growing up. They chased after cars, as well as kids (who weren’t wearing helmets) as they (the kids, not the dogs) zipped up and down our street on bicycles. Also, dogs did their business whenever and wherever they felt like it. Dogs were like, “Shut up. I go where I want to.” And while that could be super annoying if you didn’t watch your step whenever you walked across the lawn, people put up with it.
Yes. I know. Those were America’s lawless days.
However, times change — as times often do — and now in most urban and suburban areas, people keep a tighter rein on their dogs. (Also their kids.) (But that’s another story.)
What am I trying to say here?
I’m saying that the neighbor with the German Shepherd ought to be cleaning up after her dog. It’s 2018 now. Not 1968.
So where does this leave you? With choices, of course, including the following:
1. You can, as you say, sell out your neighbor.
2. You can try talking to her again, although I doubt it’ll do you any good.
3. You can clean up after her dog yourself. But only when the other neighbor isn’t peeking out the window so he doesn’t think it’s YOUR dog that’s responsible.
4. You can assure your neighbor your dog isn’t the one going rogue all over his front lawn. Otherwise, stay out of it and assume that the other neighbor will eventually figure out what’s going on and deal with the problem himself in his own way.
5. Or don’t say anything at all. Just stay out of it.
If it were me (and I’m glad it’s not), I hope I’d go with the fourth or fifth option. I understand that the situation makes you uncomfortable, but it’s not really your problem to solve. Sometimes it’s useful to just step back and remember whose problems are whose and that it’s not always up to you to make everything all better.
I hope this helps.