Man Walks Dog, Terrorizes Neighborhood

When my wife and I were looking for a house to buy 15 years ago, I told her about a rule I had: the “let-the-dog-out-without-worrying-about-it-getting-hit-by-a-car” rule.  I wasn’t even sure we’d ever get a dog, but figured this rule would also apply to future kids.  Our neighborhood has large yards, lots of trees/forest, and all streets are dead ends.  

photo (12)

About 2 years ago, we did indeed get that dog.

Meet Winnie

Meet Winnie

When I was a kid, the friendly dogs went free, following the pack of roaming kids.  In these past 2 years, I’ve discovered the world of dog-ownership has changed a great deal…

SCANDAL #1:  I let my dog walk off leash.  She’s half whippet and half black lab.  She was made to run.  As we walk she chases squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and fox.  She will never catch a fox.  I don’t think she really wants to catch a deer.  But she has hit the lottery a couple of times and caught a squirrel and 2 chipmunks.  She is extremely obedient (thank you previous owners, whoever you are!).  I can literally snap my fingers and she’s at my side – or better yet, call “Winnie, come!” and she jerks in my direction like I yanked hard on a tight leash.  I don’t let her approach pedestrians or other dogs, because I know that those people don’t know whether my dog is friendly.  However, I know from the harsh glares of some of the neighbors (even other dog owners), a lecture I once received from a neighbor, and some whispers I’ve heard through the neighborhood grapevine, that I am considered a menace by quite a few people.

SCANDAL #2:  I cut through some neighbors’ yards.  I take my dog through the woods, as I walk along a creek often picking up trash.  To get back to my neighborhood, I need to cut through some neighbors’ backyards.  I made the mistake of doing this while one of our older neighbor’s kids was visiting and doing yardwork.  She was in the front yard and as I came walking out of her driveway and on to the street, I said “Hi.”  She was about 40′-50′ away, yet physically startled and exclaimed, “Oh!”  My dog followed behind me as we entered the street.  Less than 2 weeks have passed since then and I can tell that this was a traumatic experience for my neighbor’s daughter, as this “no trespassing” sign has since been posted.

photo (5)

The elderly woman who lives there is as sweet as can be.  I wonder if she knows that this sign is there?

I had a similar experience with a neighbor when we first got our cat and let her outside.  She “escaped” (or in retrospect, “went”) into our neighbor’s bamboo.  A woman, who was also visiting her elderly mom, came running out asking me who I was and what I was doing on their property.  I guess it didn’t help settle her nerves that at the time I was in my bathrobe and slippers.

SCANDAL #3:  And this is a big one… I don’t pick up my dog’s poop.  I get that we, being a civilized society and all, don’t want dog poop lying around in places where we might step – places like sidewalks, walkways, or an entire yard of any house with kids.  But when did we become so generally rigid that we need to strictly control where animals poop outside?!?

In this neighborhood we have herds of deer, fox, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, birds, and cats pooping all over the place.  What is it about a dog’s poop that drives people into a rage – turning neighbor against neighbor?  I’ve trained my dog to poop in the woods, in ivy, or in areas where I’m very, very certain nobody is going to walk.

Our closest neighbor has 3 dogs and generally lets them poop wherever.  Their German shepherd was pooping right at the bottom of our stairs where our kids frequently run.  We politely asked them to keep an eye on their dog – and that pooping anywhere but there is fine.

Apparently, a dog pooped in a neighbor’s yard across the street…


Honestly, I think it was our dog’s poop (however, rumor has it from a dog-walking neighbor who saw the offending poop pile, that it was the poop of a big dog, so my wife thinks it might have been the German shepherd).  In the 10 years that our neighbor has lived there, I recall seeing them in their front yard twice – once to put up a bird box and once to plant a tree.  They are empty nesters.  A lawn service cuts their lawn.

In all my years growing up with dogs roaming all over the place, I never once recall a grown-up making a fuss over where a dog pooped.  Now, it feels like people are obsessed with it.

Maybe this a symptom of something good – and what happens in an area like Montgomery County, where life has become so good and easy for so many that dog etiquette is a big deal?  I think of my childhood days growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in PG County, when kids and dogs roamed free for hours on end, neighbors knew and helped each other, and we suffered together through real problems.

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86 Responses to Man Walks Dog, Terrorizes Neighborhood

  1. Gina says:

    Maybe the lawn service guys would rather not step in poop? I think if your dog poops in anyone’s yard, you should pick it up.

  2. Ed says:

    Sounds like you don’t consider other people’s piece of mind important. I have three dogs and I’m always very mindful and considerate of how other people my view my dogs. It’s called empathy and respect. Perhaps you could use some.

  3. Kathy Jentz says:

    Is this an April Fool’s joke? If you do not know why you are getting glares for invading others’ personal space or why leaving dog poop on another’s property is a problem, I’m not sure where to begin your re-education.

  4. Time to move to Greenbelt next to the Great North Woods!

  5. PS…woudl not surprise me if your pup has a bit of border collie in her 🙂

    • Scott says:

      Why do you say that? She REALLY lets me know when she’s ready for a walk. She starts whapping my leg with her paw- or putting her cold nose all over my leg. I feel like a herded sheep. I love Greenbelt, btw. I owned and lived in a townhouse over there for a few years.

  6. Gretchen says:

    Pick-up is BIG in cities, at the beach, on the sidewalk. Wild animal poop seems miniscule compared to that of domestic pets. And, a lot depends on how well you know your neighbors. I think the lawn service charges more if there is poop where they cut.

    • Lorin Mueller says:

      Reminds me of the movie “Pret-a-porter” (ready to wear) when people would come in off the streets of Paris and announce, “I just stepped in dog ****!”
      Just got back from Paris and it’s still a problem!

  7. Jack says:

    Oh, I get it… You’re an asshole. Totally understandable.

  8. Linda says:

    I find myself baffled reading your narrative. I am hoping you are playing an April Fool’s joke, as I see the things you doing/not doing as not living respectfully. So what if it wouldn’t bother you to have people act this way toward you? That is not how we should treat others.

  9. James E Williams says:

    Consider what your outdoor cat does to birds, small mammals, & reptiles.

    Jim Williams

  10. Sorry Scott, I’m a huge dog person, we had three, are about to breed our youngest, dog shows the works, but I think you’re wrong. To me, this is more about being a good neighbor. Considering your neigbhor’s yard fair game for your dog to crap on just because you don’t see them out using it, isn’t being a good neigbhor. walking through their yard just because you want to get somewhere faster, isn’t cool – you should at least ask first. Leaving your dog off leash, no matter how well behaved, isnt call in a residential neighborhood. Incredible as it seems, there are people who don’t like or are very afraid of even the friendliest dog. What you see as your right, they see as you violating their right to walk around without encountering dogs off leash. I think you might want to reconsider your approach because honestly I don’t think many folks will agree with you.

  11. Lorin Mueller says:

    I am pretty sure Immanuel Kant would disapprove. Pick up the poo, man. I have a dog and pick his poo up for compost in my back yard once a week. It makes fine lawn compost once its been mixed with leaves, food waste, and grass clippings. Leaving it out attracts flies and varmits.

    • Scott says:

      btw, Lorin- just the mention of Immanuel Kant in a blog topic about dog poo makes your comment my favorite.

  12. Miley says:

    I am glad you are not my neighbor (and you have the right to be thrilled that I am not your neighbor), who are you to impose the rationalizations of your actions upon everybody else, showing absolutely no respect for other people’s property and boundaries? Btw, people in my neighborhood manage to have respect for others while still helping each other out. And I have three dogs, and picking up their poop is part of what is called responsible pet ownership.

  13. Trevor says:

    Some small dogs get scared, get into fights (and I’ve even seen one get deadly) when dogs are off the leash. Even if you feel that your dog is not aggressive, you never know how he might act in an unpredictable situation. In addition, you obviously have streets and cars in your neighborhood. For your pet’s safety and in order to count yourself a truly responsible owner, you need to keep your dog on a leash.

  14. Ashley says:

    “I think of my childhood days growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in PG County, when kids and dogs roamed free for hours on end, neighbors knew and helped each other, and we suffered together through real problems.”

    Love this! I, too, grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in PG County, when I was younger I felt that our community was very much into being together, enjoying one another, helping when we can, and protecting one another and the space in which we all share. Not these days, what ever happened to being neighborly? Waving hello and goodbye? These days you can’t even park on the public street near a neighbors house without getting a nasty note on your car the next day. Oy!

    By the way, people. . . everyone Poops! A little dog poo won’t hurt you or your yard, and if dog Poo is the worst thing to happen to you all day, then you should be happy! When did dog poo become a first world problem? Lighten up!

  15. Bill Samuel says:

    The law in Montgomery County is that you must pick up your dog’s poop except in your own yard. The fine is $100 for each violation. The County is having financial problems. Maybe if your neighbors would keep reporting you, the County could raise some much needed revenue.

  16. Missy Waters says:

    Oh my…no more country life for you. People with pups, whether you live in the woods, sub’s or city, rules have changed. Most people walk their dogs on a lead (unless they are hunting), or have small dogs that need little or no walking what-so-ever, in designated areas. I take it you live in the sub’s, picking-up poo has been established by the community, and not exclusive to big cities, because dogs prefer not to (unless fenched in) poo in the own area, And, there is nothing more exciting when gardening and coming across a dog poo…been there done that. So animal lovers, remember not everyone loves you or your dog, and cat people remember not everyone wants to find your cat in their space (and currently I have cats that stay indoors). We no longer live in a “rural” setting where the next human is 60 miles down the road. Also, I don’t know what county you live in however, I believe most counties in the surrounding DC area have leash laws but what the hey some people don’t have to follow the law…

  17. frankie says:

    Scott, cool I agree with you, We have had many dogs, If I find poop in my front yard I pick it up. Why complain, Because we live in a neighborhood that has a lot of young children who are a bit scared of our dog(s) I walk them on a leash. Most of the time he is in his own backyard. All of our dogs have been over 80 lbs even though the breeds they should not get as big as they do. We have an Aussie/Spaniel mix right now that will lick you to death and heard you to where he wants you. Since so many people

    Your Neighbors might be a little more comfortable if you spoke to them before you walked through their property. I have had a couple guys jump my fence after a neighbor kids ball and it did scare me. I didn’t know them. I would have felt better if they had knocked on the front door first. I was more worried my dog would go after them and scare them. Anyway, unfortunately you might have to move further out to get the amount of space you and your buddy need.

  18. Frank says:

    I agree that dog poop should be picked up if it’s in someones yard. However, the big theme in this story and even more so in the responses is Fear. People these days are filled with fear, even when they are wealthy enough to have a huge yard, security patrols, good health, etc. My suggestion? Get out to Great Falls or somewhere you are surrounded by nature for a while. Find a way to fill that hollow void that leaves you feeling scared and angry. I can assure you stepping in shit is not fatal, but obsessing about getting your shoes dirty will surely lead you to more fear, anger and sadness. Have fun- you can clean off your boots later!

    • Scott says:

      IMO, fear/anxiety is an epidemic these days. It’s manifestations are everywhere, especially apparent in the child-rearing community. I blame TV.

  19. PaulZ says:

    Living in a city and walking a dog, it’s standard procedure and common decency to pick up after them. Living in the suburbs, never leave Fido’s calling card on someone’s lawn. In the bush or the woods,what’s the big deal? Just use your common sense. But if you do find yourself in a neighborhood full of poo detectives,best to bring plastic bags and avoid offending, You gotta live with people. I will say this I would never cut through someone’s yard unless I was on friendly neighborly hi how are ya terms. You never know when the daughter is going to be sitting on the porch with an AR-15. For protection mind you.

  20. Luke says:

    scott I too yearn for a time when people didn’t walk around with large chunks of wood up their ass. your neighbors aren’t going to change in fact they are probably going to get worse. get out of moco, get your self some land where you can do what you want. I’m sorry to see all the negative responses on here, but these are the things people spend their time thinking about now, instead of doing something useful for mankind. keep doing what you do, there are other people out there that get it.

  21. DaniC says:

    Growing up we never had to pick up poop but we didn’t live in a neighborhood…… and that seems to be the problem, the neighborhood. I dislike living where I do but we do it for the kids to interact with other kids. Turns out I resent our neighbors for the things they do (and don’t do) and I don’t feel free…… next house I want zero neighbors.

    • Bill Samuel says:

      We grew up much of the time in rural areas, and we didn’t pick up the poop of any dogs who had adopted us. But, you’re right, a suburban neighborhood is a far different environment. It’s bad enough all the poop that is on our lawns from wildlife. I’m glad that, at least most of the time, there is none additionally from the many dogs in our neighborhood.

  22. Scott says:

    Wow! What an array of comments! I’ve responded to many below. But first, let me clarify and reiterate a couple of things…

    I’m quite certain that this was a first-time offense (in 2 years) for my dog pooping in my neighbor’s yard. My dog is trained to poop in the woods, in ivy, and in my yard. Also, I have watched my dog closely ever since the initial poop incident, ensuring that she is not a repeat offender.

    I have deemed the neighborhood safe for my dog. It’s a very sleepy neighborhood and she is smart and obedient. Sometimes I walk on a busy road, and I definitely have her on leash then.

    Even when off leash, I do not let her approach people or dogs.

    To Ed- “It’s called empathy and respect.”: That is a great point- and really the issue at the heart of the matter- and one that I struggle with on all sorts of different issues. My struggle is where do I draw the line between how agitated or irritable others might get from my actions and whether or not I think those feelings are justified? Or, does it matter whether I think they’re justified- or to what extent does it matter?

    I was talking to a friend about this when it first happened. He said that if I lived next to a cattle farmer with 1000 acres of land and there was cow manure all over the fields- that if that farmer didn’t want my dog pooping on his farm, that I would be required to pick it up no matter what I thought. Technically, I believe this to be true- but the point of this blog post is how different our opinions on such matters have become since I was a kid.

    To Gina- “Maybe the lawn service guys would rather not step in poop?”: Another good point. I hadn’t thought of that.

    • Dog Lover says:

      Hi, Scott, I also grew up in P.G. County. As a child I too was afraid of dogs, whenever I would encounter a dog off-leash I would either freeze from fright or turn around and run away. I was too young to know that was the exact wrong thing to do, but I was scared. I don’t know why I was afraid, I just was. A barking dog can be frightening. I have a neighbor who’s son visits with his Pit Bull and he keeps him in the yard unleashed (but not totally unsupervised). When I am out walking I have to pass this house, when I see the dog I stop short and immediately cross to the other side of the street. I tried to get the dog owner’s attention so he would at least call the dog to him, but he just totally ignores me. I do have to say however, that the dog seems well trained and docile and has never made an attempt to come at me. I also owned a German Shepherd who was smart as a whip and very obedient. I would walk him off leash, but he never left my side (I made him heel) and when I saw another person I would grab his choker chain just to put the person at ease because I could see the fear in their faces. I don’t think any dog owner can say “oh he won’t bite”, you never know what an animal will do. My sister’s Shih Tzu attacked my 8 year old son when he was trying to give it a kiss. My son is scared for life. I love dogs, but still fear the ones I do not know. My dogs, fortunately had fenced yards in which they could run. I can see where you would want your dog to have the freedom to run free as dogs were meant to do, but unfortunately most of us live in areas are that are too populated to allow this.

      I have to agree with the person who said you should not walk through someone’s yard unless you are on a first name basis with them, just as with dogs you never really know what a persons intent may be. As for picking up your dogs poop it sounds like you are trying to do the right thing by picking it up and your neighbors may be a little overly sensitive to the situation as neighbors will be. The best defense is to not give them anything to complain about and they need to consider the fact that no one is perfect.

      It sounds like you are trying to do the right thing, just remember people are afraid when they see an “off-leash dog” and try to realize if your dog is “off-leash” where “on-leash” is the law and this person should happen to be walking through the woods at a time your dog is “off-leash” they probably don’t want to have their heart and blood pressure spike to the point of almost passing out. They are expecting to be able to take a walk and not be frightened by some dog who is not in compliance with the local rules.

      I hope this has helped you to somewhat see the neighbors point of view even if it is a little irrational for the situation!

      Dog Lover

  23. Sophia says:

    Ha, you must have a happy dog! Awesome that you take her off leash! People are so uptight these days, especially in the suburbs and especially in Montgomery County. I totally agree with you, there’s no need to pick up poop where no one walks. At first, I was scared when people cut through our yard, but I got over that quickly. Frank is right, everyone’s living in fear.

  24. Vishaan says:

    Cutting through yards, walking off leash, and pooping in the woods is a menace?? People get a life.

    There are many things that have changed today, first, neighbors are not neighbors anymore. We’re just people who live beside each other and, hence, the plethora of rules and passive aggressive behavior. I’ve had a neighbors dog poop in my yard accidentally; pick it up folks and stop complaining. It’s your damn neighbor.

  25. barry says:

    I walk my dog off leash near my home in the middle of DC. My dog is small and very nice, and sometimes a couple people are scared of it, but most of the time people are impressed at how smart and obedient my dog is. I just tend to think they either underestimate their own dogs and are too lazy to train them. Also when I grew up (26 now) in South Florida, we always let our dog outside on her own, and she took care of herself (watchign for cars and whatnot). And this was in a neighborhood with houses 15 feet apart, and no dead ends. No one else in our neighborhood did this, but everyone knew our dogs name. Lots of people knew our dog but didn’t know us. I think what you are doing is fine, but in the long run if your behavior alienates you from your neighbors then maybe it isn’t worth it. But I agree, peoples dog habits are going in the wrong direction. I especially hate that state and national parks do let you have off leash dogs. Where is my dog supposed to run. Also I don’t understand dog parks, they are dirty, overcrowded, too small, have nothing interesting for dogs to explore, and can be dangerous when mean dogs are present.

  26. OffDaGrid says:

    I find this article quite entertaining but I’m definitely with the neighbors, dude!

  27. Justine says:

    All the plastic bags used pick up dog poop is horrible for our earth! I see no problem in letting your dog poop in the woods where no one is walking.

  28. Kim says:

    While I agree that a little poo shouldn’t be a big deal, I believe it is more an issue of overpopulation.

  29. Rob says:

    We live in the age of “offense”. Everybody seems offended by something, and some people are offended by nearly everything. The InterTubes is a great place to complain and whine about how offended we are. I am grateful for this chance to be deeply offended. Thank you.

    • Frank says:

      Rob, You are very welcome, and thanks for helping to put this in perspective. I will be deeply offended by your comment as as soon as I can stop laughing! Personally I’m offended more by people that flood their lawns with pesticides resulting with in the loss on entire species of amphibians (and perhaps increasing autism rates in children), than by a neighbor walking through my yard, or their dog pooping on my lawn.
      Of course, if someone’s dog is a repeat offender, there is a simple fix: collect the poop in a paper bag. When the bag is almost full, at nighttime, go to the owners house and place it on the front step. Ring the doorbell and light the bag on fire.

  30. kathyo. says:

    So maybe you haven’t seen your empty nester neighbors out when you are looking for them. Maybe they frolic naked under the full moon: I’m pretty sure they would mind a little dog poo then.

    My dog, an adult shelter save, was for a long time, little bit fearful and dog aggressive, but great with kids and adults. I ALWAYS keep him leashed. I have worked very hard to train him to not react aggressively to other dogs we see on our walks. I praise him for being a good dog,no barking-“good dog” and no lunging-“good dog”. Unfortunately, more times than I care to count, friendly or curious, always well behaved and trained, off leash dogs have surprised my Albert who of course reacts as he will. A big nasty altercation ensues with my trying to keep him from ripping up the other dog who of course is also biting at that point and try not to be pulled off balance or bit at the same time, whose person can’t get to it quick enough. It is not fair to those of us who try to protect our pets to put them in that jeopardy.I more than once finished my walk shaken and in tears.
    Your attitudes toward your neighbors, laws and social conventions have me wondering about your attitudes toward customers.How clean is clean enough in a grocery store? What Health Dept. rules might you disagree with?
    Thank you for the opportunity to share these opinions.

  31. Ken J says:

    Quite a variety of commentary here. 19 generally denounce the statement, 9 generally approve the statement, and 6 are more or less neutral. Let’s say 2 to 1 among those with opinions. I take this to be a good sample estimate of the ratio of law abiders/enforcers to anarchists. The law abiders are not necessarily right but they are definitely winning. It’s also a well known fact that law abiders do not like anarchists, and it appears that they stand ready to engage. Formal surrender is not needed, but prudence argues against a real battle. Maybe this issue could just fade into the distance over time.

  32. kathyo. says:

    Wow, I tried to fact check law abiders not liking anarchists.Couldn’t find it.

  33. Jack says:

    It’s not about anarchy vs. rules. It’s about simple consideration. How much extra effort does it take to carry a biodegradable bag & pick up your dog’s poop? How much extra effort does it take to ask your neighbors if it’s ok to shortcut through their yards? And how much extra effort does it take to keep your dog on a leash when it’s off your property? The answer to all three is almost none. But how much consideration for others are you showing when you do so? No harm vs. potential harm. Pretty easy calc.

  34. Scott says:

    Well, with a 2-1 ratio, it appears as if I’ve really “stepped in it” with this blog post…

  35. Rochelle says:

    Scott, I have two dogs that I walk off leash, one very old and docile golden who I would have to drag on a leash, she needs to go at her own pace, and one nippy chihuahua who I have to snatch up if I see anyone. I keep leashes handy because even though I’m walking in a woodland, it is suburban Montgomery County and I run into too many people with potential issues. I just snap on/snap off the leashes. It’s a pain but I’ve learned it’s necessary.

    My golden loves to sink down into our degraded creek and lap up some fetid water whenever she can get away with it. She stinks to high heaven. Suspecting fecal contamination I researched dog poop and water contamination. Unlike other animal feces, dog poop can host billions of e-coli, parvo, worms, etc. It doesn’t break down as quickly either and it washes into our waterways which are the only source of drinking water for woodland animals. So I am now one of those vigilante poop monitors. I hand out bags, I pick up other dog poop, and I hope you will too. I understand your nostalgia, but it’s a different world. Our ecosystem is out of balance and we have to do what we can to help.

    • Kathleen loves lepidoptera says:

      Thank you Rochelle for a new and important perspective. We need to think about the environmental burden of our pets. Dogs are carnivores and in a truly natural ecosystem, the ratio of carnivores to herbivores would be much smaller than the number of dogs to rabbits in an average neighborhood. Think of it this way, the bunny poop in my organic flower beds will breakdown much more rapidly than the dog poop in the chemically treated community green space.

  36. Raylene says:

    Scott, I would highly recommend that you consider removing this blog post and posting an apology and a “lessons learned” post.

    Lesson #1: Ask for permission before stepping in someone else’s property. We don’t live in the same world as we did while growing up. We have way too many humans sharing an ever shrinking space, and not everyone has the same privilege of being male, strong, and always safe.

    Lesson #2: Dog poop is bad for the environment. Pick up poo, preferably using biodegradable bags and composting them. If not, then reuse your old plastic food bags and throw them away in the trash.

    Lesson #3: Walk your dog on leash, unless in leash-free areas. This is out of respect for owners with rescue dogs who require extra special handling. Also for humans who might not be comfortable with dogs.

    Lesson #4: Move to a rural area if you want the privilege of walking great distances with dogs off leash and not having to worry about picking up poop or crossing someone else’s land. Then again, larger predators might snatch up your dog, or you might get shot if you accidently cross someone else’s land.

    We don’t live in an utopia.. yet.

  37. Boy, you did kind of step in it. I feel really bad for you with all of the hostile comments. I grew up in Chicago (southside) where you would say hello to anyone walking down the street, just a simple yet kind gesture. I don’t know if people are more informed and becoming more paranoid or are just nasty, hence the unfriendliness you may come across. Certain areas of Moco seem just people-unfriendly, period. Unfortunately you must live in one of those areas. We have two goldens who are very obedient on or off the leash and our backyard is fenced. I can proudly say though we have a beautiful backyard lawn because of their natural waste and our friendly neighbors are always asking what we do to have the grass grow so well, lol, 🙂

  38. Notworldly says:

    Several points in response to several comments: First, get informed and see links from Kim (Apr. 3, 5:46 p.m.) and Lynn (Apr. 3, 8:43 p.m.). Second: It is so obvious that there’s residue to where the poop was picked up, even if the dog didn’t have diarrhea. Residue counts too, for picking up on shoes and feet, and FLIES lay eggs on the poop, making maggots, then more flies and spread of bacteria & other germs. Dry poop (and its residue) travel in the wind (especially if blown by lawnmowers) and these “oocytes” are inhaled and cause disease. Proven. Fairfax County Health Dept. had brochures on this to distribute and warn people.
    Maybe neighbors aren’t seen walking in their yards because they feel they can’t because of not wanting to step on poop or residue, or urine.
    What loose dog will resist chasing or attacking a cat? That’s aggression and cruelty.
    My sister’s Irish Setter had a corner of his yard where was put raked leaves, grass clippings, and it was his toilet. They buried the waste (no wells were around).
    Only DOUBLE-bagged poop is acceptable. (see links I mentioned for more). Trash trucks “compact” or mash trash. Get it? Not to mention in the hot weather the smell near the trash can at the curb.
    Cats catch rodents & keep their populations in control, and are needed to be loose because of this.They look for out-of-the-way loose dirt and leaves like under bushes to poop. They cover up their mess as much as possible. Cat’s don’t run up and startle or bark or jump up on people or bite them when doing this. If you have cat problem, ask the owner to pick up the mess and to make an area of loose dirt/sand in their yard. This just may work.
    In the woods, children & others roam, and shouldn’t have to walk in poop. Anyplace a dog can roam, so can a child, including in ivy. I want to walk in parks, but have to have my eyes constantly on the ground instead of enjoying things around me.
    Hopefully dog owners will take note of this information from me and others.

    • Scott says:

      My dog will stop chasing anything when we call her (as stated in my original post). She certainly won’t chase cats, considering she lives with one.

      I suggest for your own peace of mind that you focus on probabilities, rather than what is “proven” / possible.

      Personally, I’d rather step in dog poo rather than waste an entire walk worrying about stepping in dog poo. And in reality, it’s not really a choice that needs to be made- at least not in the woods where I walk my dog.

  39. Vishaan says:

    Wow Scott you really brought the best of them out. To add to my previous comments, I travel frequently overseas with my dogs and find that people all over the world are getting tired of public dog poop…yes even Parisians (although it’s still ubiquitous). Even in cities like Bangalore where I wouldn’t have picked it up maybe 5 years ago, it’s encouraged now…encouraged in a city with a stray dog problem, go figure.

  40. KS says:

    Glad to see you received a few friendly comments after the initial torrent of abuse. I think a lot of readers must be too young to remember a time when neighbors were a little more generous-spirited – not so jealous of their property lines and more likely to have a word than put up a snippy sign when minor conflicts arose. Just to put things in perspective, I wonder how many of your censorious neighbors ruin peaceful fall days with the sound of leaf blowers.

    • Scott says:

      Great point- re: the leaf blowers. There is a certain level of acceptance on all negative issues that might arise from living near people. My dearest neighbors, some of the kindest people I’ve ever met and are basically like grandparents to my kids- he is King of the Leaf Blowers. He used to wake up our sleeping babies from their afternoon naps all the time. That’s something we had to accept- and were happy to accept it. It’s interesting that many people think it’s wrong for me to walk through someone’s yard, yet most of my neighbors pay lawn crews made up of complete strangers to frequently come onto their property. But me, the middle aged guy carrying bags of trash and walking the dog warrants the “no trespassing” sign…

  41. wise grandma says:

    Here’s something to think about. When people don’t show common courtesy, such as not spitting chewed tobacco on the sidewalk, a law is passed to show the proper behavior. When people like Scott continue with their selfish improper behavior, the law is enforced. Scott, you are lucky that you are not my neighbor because, if I had neighbors like you, I would give you a warning and then have you arrested for tresspassing. I would call the dog warden to give you a fine for having your dog off leash and allowing your dog to defecate and urinate on my property. Look at the grass along the sidewalk and road where dogs are walked. See the yellow spots that turn brown with patches of dead grass? That is caused by the acid in dog urine. Scott, when you tresspass on somebody else’s property, you or your dog might be destroying flowers or trampling mushrooms, etc. What if your neighbor strategically planted shrubs for privacy from neighbors and street and was sitting in the nude reading a book when here you come. Scott, you seem to have a large yard. If dog doo is not a problem, then why don’t you walk your dog on your own property, letting it poop in places that you don’t walk tread. What amazes me is that the other person brought up in PG County thinks exactly like you. People, in what barn were you brought up? And I do not say this facetiously (look it up in the dictionary.)

    • Vishaan says:

      You must be a very sad and unhappy person. I’m sorry but there are no amount of laws that can fix that….a dog perhaps 🙂 but no laws.

  42. Jack says:

    Scott – I can’t speak to whether “Assholes: A Theory” is a better book than your suggestion, “The No-Asshole Rule,” because I haven’t read both books. I assume you have.

    What I was referencing was the definition that Aaron James proposes: An asshole is someone who “systematically allows himself to enjoy special privileges in interpersonal relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.”

    I think your self-described behavior seems to fit this definition pretty well.

    I have no evidence that your selfish behavior extends to the rest of your life, but I have found in a half century of observation that very few entrepreneurs who lack this trait achieve the kind of success you have. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE MOM. I think it’s a fantastic store with a soulful, positive mission and a collection of some of the best-chosen and -trained employees I have ever met. I shop there almost daily. And if people like you must exist in order to take risks and drive themselves to create value in the marketplace (and enrich their own wealth), thereby creating stores like MOM, well, I suppose tolerance of assholes is a price society must pay.

    But I do wish that more people would remember that they exist in a community of human beings, and take that a little time to do the little things that make others’ lives more pleasurable.

    • Scott says:

      That’s an interesting post, Jack. They have done studies on entrepreneurs’ personalities. One of the main traits is that we hate authority. I guess that could lead to what you describe- “systematically allows himself to enjoy special privileges in interpersonal relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people.” One such study likened the personality of an entrepreneur to that of a juvenile delinquent. There are many similarities- and as it turns out- many entrepreneurs were juvenile delinquents as kids (gotta say I’m guilty of this one myself).

      “Special privileges” is open to interpretation, however. Not all laws are good- and many misdemeanor type laws are meant to create a general expectation, rather than a strict at-all-times enforceable rule (who truly drives under the speed limit at all times?). The questions is: “At what point am I reasonably responsible for the agitation, irritation, and discontent of others as a result of my behavior?” Let’s say someone in a group doesn’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance. That would irritate and upset quite a few people, I’m sure. But, does that mean that person shouldn’t hold true to their beliefs?

      Yes- I completely disagree with many people about to what extent we should monitor and control where our pets go to the bathroom- or whether they’re off leash- or whether we should walk on private property. And, I wouldn’t want to be spiteful about it or go out of my way to irritate people, but at one point the calculation / balance must be made between my beliefs and their outrage, as with many such situations- and this is something we all must do.

      • Eileen says:

        I am so happy you are celebrating another “anny” but I don’t think I’ll be there (don’t like being in DC, sorry!). But I do shop regularly at the MOM’s in Jessup and it always lifts my spirits to know the great things you are doing for the environment (and my neighborhood in Jessup). I am so happy you are customer-oriented and try to give us the best there (like those gold kiwis, donut peaches, Ataulfo mangoes…and maybe some jicama, if it can be found?).
        Do you by any chance get into medical issues as well? I know MOM’s is all about eating healthy, but I am having some problems with a relative who believes “medicine is magic” and she is giving my mother a medicine called Prednisone for arthritis, which I have heard is very damaging (bad side-effects, including shutdown of adrenals). The medicine has really slowed her down, but I can’t convince her that it is a problem. She has poa but I just don’t think that gives her the right to do anything she pleases. I’m afraid this medicine is doing some real damage. Although I asked, she even refused to have my mother taken in for a second opinion. She seems to think “holistic” means you are an extremist nut-case, and that eating properly is secondary to medicine. Even though Neil Barnard wrote that book on the anti-inflammatory diet treatment for arthritis, she ignores such things.
        Can you offer some advice?

  43. Anne says:

    Scott, your comment about “stepping in it” is hysterical. You’re right.
    I must say that all of these critical comments are astounding to me, and a lot of them – especially this one above – are just unfair. And I’ve never met Scott! However, I can only imagine for someone who’s exemplified “walking the talk” regarding environmentalism, the comments here are unfounded. And I’d have to say, having shopped at several MOM’s stores for at least 10 years, MOM’s is a GOOD NEIGHBOR, bringing in good business to less affluent neighborhoods; serving the communities well; being a good example of being good stewards with our food, farms, and environment; and educating the communities, to say the least.
    I’m guessing Scott is just less of a rule-follower than a lot of us – there are plenty of such folks around us.
    Give him a break, at least he’s honest about himself.

  44. Maureen says:

    Is this whole thing really about dog poop or about control? This is really kind of rediculous. As long as we are all for trying to have a eco-friendly world, what’s the poop? Are we all that rigid? This is one world, and we all have to get along, regardless of “mores/norms”. So, we’ve all “stepped in poop”, clean it off and get over it. 🙂

  45. wise grandma says:

    Okay, Scott what reaction would you have if you found out that the night before somebody had sprayed a large black graffiti in the form of a stick figure vomiting into a large bucket on the walls and/or glass of the front and/or back entrance of all of your stores, No big deal, right? According to his way of thinking, whoever did it felt that the law against graffiti and vandalism doesn’t apply him because he is exercising his right to free speech in the form of art work and he was just giving you the benefit of that free art work. He wouldn’t call it vandalism, would you? Besides that’s his only beef with stupid laws so it makes it okay, just like your beef against restraining dogs, in your mind, makes it okay to foul your neighbors’ property. In reality, if you ignore one law and somebody else ignores another…….. Get it, Scotty (kid’s name for kid’s behavior.)

  46. wise grandma says:

    Scott- That was a hypothetical question 9:26am. Now for a real question. If you don’t mind stepping in dog poo, why don’t you fence in your property and let your dog run free there? You could be kind enough to let others who don’t have property “walk” their dogs there, also. You do realize that humans can get pinworms, impetigo and other nasty stuff from dog poo, don’t you? Sorry that I am so tough on you, Honey, but I had a neighbor like you and her large dog destroyed my flower garden. Since the dog’s owner lived right next door to me and since I liked that dog, I gave them a lot of leeway. What I didn’t know was that the dog was a repeat offender and had roamed throughout the neighborhood annoying a lot of people. Bottom line – a friend/neighbor down the street caught the dog in her yard one too many times and called the Dog Warden. The Dog Warden got out of his van and went into the house and came out with the dog. He walked right past the distraught owner who had been out searching for the dog. The Dog Warden told the owner that the fine would be $80 and that she had to go to the pound to pay the fine and pick up the dog. He refused to deal with her on the street. Owner was told that if it happened again the dog would be impounded. Poor sweet dog – bad owner.

  47. NaturalGal4u says:

    Who would’ve thunk that dog pooh could cause such an uproar!!!!

  48. E.A. says:

    Maybe Scott would like to come and speak to some of the kids at BGCGW & explain how his boorish behavior is not responsible for the discontent of others. Or how to figure out just which of our laws are “not intended” to enforce a rule, and may be righteously disobeyed. Or how holding true to one’s (admittedly percieved as menacing to one’s neighbors) beliefs at the expense of others is morally defensible. Or the difference between allowing employees access to his property and withholding that particular right from shit-littering dog owners (or thieves, or grafiti artists). Or about how proud you are about getting a large number of parking tickets. Or perhaps a presentation about how REMARCKABLE it is that the passage of time changes all manner of things and how great the good old days were (yawn). If you can’t get a clue naturally, maybe you need to buy one. A pimpin electric one, of course. SMH.

  49. MW says:

    Scott is entitled to his opinion as is everyone commenting on this blog. I presume that folks who have such negative comments on this blog have never broken the law, i.e., jaywalking (crossing the street without a crosswalk or against the light), driving over the speed limit, etc. WE have all done it, and E.A. reminiscing (yawn?) is not a crime, especially when it brings back GREAT memories.

  50. Wise grandma says:

    MW – two wrongs don’t make a right. Didn’t you ever hear that phrase?
    This is just a case of poor breeding (not the dog’s.) Some adults, unfortunately, are so ill bred that they don’t know that they are ill bred. Scott is not some kid testing society, even though he behaves like one, he is an adult businessman. And as such, IMHO, he should realize that some of his MOM customers might take offense to his “I don’t give a damn about the laws” attitude and wonder if that attitude extends to the products and handling of those products in the store. Again IMHO, those customers, out of concern for safety or just on principle, might stay away from his store and tell their friends/neighbors to stay away, too.

    • MW says:

      You are looking at only one aspect of life Grandma. Breeding has nothing to do with it either, were you around during the 60’s? You can call the Poop Police if you wish, shop where you may, but my point is that everyone has committed some offense at one point or another (tell me you haven’t) and I think it’s crazy to be pointing fingers at someone when the finger can be pointed right back at you. If it were such a safety concern, I think you would hear more of it from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the news media.

      • envirolaw says:

        MW, I think you might be the one looking at only one aspect. Wise grandma seems (justifiably) concerned about Scott’s attitude toward society in general. Not just the poop issue. And it’s not crazy to point fingers. It’s how we enforce laws and social mores. If no one is innocent, but only the innocent can point out wrongdoing……well, that doesn’t really work, does it?

  51. Scott says:

    From the original blog post: “What is it about a dog’s poop that drives people into a rage – turning neighbor against neighbor? Now, it feels like people are obsessed with it.”

    I should have added an asterisk right there saying “refer to Exhibit A in the inevitable ensuing comments below.”

    This is obviously not about pointing out wrong-doing (as Envirolaw points out above). It’s about the obsession and outrage- the pervasive fear, lack of perspective, and hypocrisy and righteous indignation that seems to be infiltrating society’s collective psyche.

    Yes, I obviously disagree with those who get severely disturbed because of a single dog poo incident- or because someone who lives next door walks through your yard. Such people I think are lacking some serious serenity. But that’s not the point (and not my problem)- the point is that if they were simply to “point out wrongdoing”, reactions would be so much less intensely angry.

    When you see someone speeding 7 miles over the speed limit, or jaywalking, do you get outraged- or when you’ve done it, do you expect others to get outraged towards you? And speaking of following laws- how about those who are outraged when homophobic sodomy laws are broken? I’m sure those people feel just as justifiably angry and outraged as some of those in these comments section…

  52. WarrenB says:

    Don’t forget, Scott, these commenters are quite likely your customers. If they read this blog, they’re likely some of your most loyal customers. Even the critical ones. Follow the example of your employees and show them some respect and courtesy. They are, after all, the ones who support you where it really counts. You’re flailing, buddy.

    • Scott says:

      That’s a great post, Warren. Thanks. I suppose you’re right- as I reread that last comment of mine, it is pretty intense. I could delete it, but I’ll leave it up for the record.

      I’ll add that I went into business so that I could be myself. And at this point in my life, I choose to not bite my tongue when I think there’s a problem, pretty much no matter what the financial ramifications may be (and why MOM’s will likely never be a public company, because the shareholders or board of directors would likely sanction or fire me).

      This- “the pervasive fear, lack of perspective, and hypocrisy and righteous indignation that seems to be infiltrating society’s collective psyche” is a HUGE concern of mine- that is 2nd only to my concern for the environment (climate change, water pollution). Hence, my dog-on-bone intensity on this issue.

      Thanks again. I appreciate the candor.

  53. WDCgardener says:

    As if you needed another reason to clean up your dog’s poop (aside from common decency), another new study shows it may help save the bay:
    >It’s not just good manners to clean up after your dog. A new study from the Center for Watershed Protection shows it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to keep pollutants out of Chesapeake Bay. <

  54. Scott says:

    WDCgardener- That study that you’ve linked doesn’t make sense. The “cost per lb.” must be for removal of lawn fertilizers, rather than prevention. Prevention is much more cost effective. How could it possibly cost $1500 per lb. to eliminate fertilizers from private lawns?!?

    Saving the environment by forcing everyone to pick up their pet’s waste is like trying to curb global warming by eliminating fireworks on the 4th of July.

    Let’s do some back-of-the-envelope math to see how big an environmental problem dog poop is:

    First of all, picking up dog poop is bad for the environment is some ways. Those “tons” of dog poop need to be taken on trucks, which weight adds to carbon emissions. Not to mention, landfill space is taken up. And, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up plastic bags of poo in the woods.

    Let’s first focus on human/animal waste alone. First of all, there are tons and tons of human waste going into our waterways from leaking/overflowing sewers. Then there are the wild animals, the squirrels, fox, raccoons, birds, opossums, rodents, and reptiles- and the deer! Estimates say there are about 200 deer per square mile in the suburbs of MD. And outdoor domestic cats. Next, the livestock. Chickens, pigs, cattle- you name it. Of all of that tons and tons of waste, how much is dog waste? Dunno, but I’ve gotta imagine it’s in the single digit % range.

    And the other factors that harm the bay? Let’s start with the fact that probably 90% of privately owned non-wooded acreage is sprayed with something (the unsprayed wooded acreage we already know is getting constantly pooped on by wild animals)- whether that be lawn companies spraying private lawns, landscaping companies spraying commercial properties, golf courses are near toxic, non-organic farmers, etc. How many millions of tons of chemicals does this add up to?!?

    Then there is the pollution from roads. Oil, ice/snow chemicals, windshield wiper fluid, plastic trash.

    And I wonder how much pollution comes from corporate manufacturing plants dumping their waste into rivers?

    So, of all of those factors, this study claims that the best and most cost effective way to save the Bay is to focus on dog poop?

    These studies are fodder for the public’s outrage. My 12 year old daughter summed it up perfectly the other day- she said “Dad- somebody gets mad about something, then a law gets passed, which gives many others something to get mad about.”

    Many of these studies that say ecoli is a threat to swimmers. Well, I’m not all that concerned about swimmers. More concerned about the ecosystem of the Bay. How many people are REALLY getting sick from bacteria in our waterways? Does anyone know? 10,000? 10?

    The first article linked in the comments section, which IMO was the best- even that one, after much scientific analysis saying that dog poo does indeed add to the bacterial levels of waterways, uses an example of an extreme contamination case where it says that the dog poo adds as much as 10% of the bacterial contamination. 10%? In an extreme case? Of bacterial contamination, which is only a fraction of the problem (the major problem being the millions of tons of chemicals applied to farms and lawns everywhere)?

    I’m no conspiracy theorist, but after typing up this reply, it almost makes me wonder if the chemical companies are somehow thrilled that people are outraged over dog poo, all the while these same people are likely dumping bags and bags of chemicals on their own lawns every year…

  55. Sue says:

    Per the EPA, teaching an off leash dog to poo in areas with foliage is how to keep stream waters clean. They call this the Long Grass Principle. Since this isn’t the pavement filled streets of Paris or downtown D.C. it changes the circumstances.
    Here’s the EPA paper:

    “If pets are allowed off-leash, they can be trained to defecate on pooch patches, which are sandy areas designated for that purpose. Special bins can also be provided for the disposal of pet waste. Wherever pets defecate, whether in public parks or backyards, the “LONG GRASS PRINCIPLE” can be used to prevent source water contamination. Not only are dogs readily attracted to long grass, but long grass helps to filter pollutants and the feces can decompose naturally while minimally polluting runoff. A height of around ten centimeters (10 cm) is appropriate for such long grass. These long grass areas, however, should be placed away from overland flow paths, stream channels, lakes, drinking water wells, and storm water drainage inlets.”

  56. Sky says:

    Have you thought of setting a dog-doo compost on your property? I always hear that the poop, whether from deer, horse, chicken or dogs when left on top of the soil are running off in to the streams and into the bay. Just something to think about with this link:
    Study: Picking Up Pet Poop Among Best, Cheapest Ways to Protect Bay

  57. Emily says:

    Thank you, Scott! I did Internet searches to see if there are others out there who feel that we as a people have become entirely too rigid in terms of dogs on leashes, poop etiquette, etc. and came up with very few results in the affirmative. The vast majority were pages talking about “The Law” and being responsible citizens and so on. I like my life as much as the next girl, but when I was bitten by an off-leash dog my feeling was just that risk is always part of life. I certainly did not press charges nor would I want that dog to be shackled to a leash for the rest of his life, however hard that might be for others to believe. The freedom of dogs and children that you mentioned and the lack thereof that we see these days represents to me not a sign of progress, but rather a big step in the wrong direction–towards a pathological mentality of fear and rigidity, and an arrogant belief that it is possible to wipe out the “unknown” variables in life by controlling every aspect. Which is sad and not true.

  58. Emily says:

    Thank you, Scott! I did Internet searches to see if there are others out there who feel that we as a people have become entirely too rigid in terms of dogs on leashes, poop etiquette, etc. and came up with very few results in the affirmative. The vast majority were pages talking about “The Law” and being responsible citizens and so on. I like my life as much as the next girl, but when I was bitten by an off-leash dog my feeling was just that risk is always part of life. I certainly did not press charges nor would I want that dog to be shackled to a leash for the rest of his life, however hard that might be for others to believe. The freedom of dogs and children that you mentioned and the lack thereof that we see these days represents to me not a sign of progress, but rather a big step in the wrong direction–towards a pathological mentality of fear and rigidity, and an arrogant belief that it is possible to wipe out the unknown variables in life by controlling every aspect. Which is sad and not true.

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