Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Poo Star Juniper: A Rant

Look closely. Those aren't juniper berries.

Last spring, after the heavy snows had melted and before the torrential spring rains could wash clean my garden beds of the multitude of collected debris of a very cold winter, I was livid.

Like an intricate puzzle, a layer of dog poo overlaid my perennial beds, the tops of low herbaceous perennials and shrubs, and even on top of my blue star junipers, azaleas, and deutzia.

Okay, I have a dog, Faithful Companion. But she is ALWAYS on a lease. She loves to run free and feel the air ruffle her soft, floppy ears and short, brown coat just like the next dog. Unlike most dogs, she would care less, unfortunately, if I yelled for her to come. She would be three counties away before she realized where she was and then she'd be lost.

There are leash laws for a reason. One of those reasons is dog owners need to clean up after their dogs. No deposits allowed.

After last winter, the amount of dog poo I picked up from my perennial beds was incredible. Yet, I really haven't wanted to confront the dogs' owner. (Two dogs, same owner.) I know the owner has a few anger issues, and it might make the situation even worse. And while I seldom shy from confrontation, these days and times, neither of us can just get up and move. Nor can I easily build a fence. I have a fence on one side of my yard, but alley on two side and height and other restrictions on the front side of my yard.

Actually, my fence was the first constructed in the village, built just ten years ago. But after last winter and the infringements of dogs on my space, I was attempting to come up with a way to effectively fence my entire yard without giving up valuable space to easements, right-of-ways, and roadway sight lines.

I couldn't come up with a good plan.

This fall I did take my peony cages and unstring them and staple them across my open arch at the front of my property. This one thing I think has cut poo in my beds down by maybe twenty percent. I also moved my metal garden chairs to block openings in my alley hedging over the winter; another small incremental improvement.

My village is really a village of dogs. I would say there are more ambulatory dogs than people. Nineteen percent of the village are residents over 65 years of age living alone, not sure how ambulatory they are. I don't see them. The village's population density is 536 people to a square mile. In just my block, there are 32 people, 18 dogs. On a daily basis, I see maybe 5-6 of my neighbors. I see 8-10 of their dogs.

This last fall when Faithful Companion was in heat, one of the male dogs tried to come through the door and window into my house. Literally, clawing at the window, and ramming the door with its body. My neighbor got a call, right away.

I told them in no uncertain terms to come get their dog and leash it. My son walked Faithful Companion with a broom for about a week, providing, in effect, an armed guard.

Now last night at a village board meeting, one of my other neighbors was complaining about the amount of dog poo on the library lawn. Not only the unleashed dogs, but dogs on retractable leashes being walked by their owners have been seen leaving poo just off the sidewalks. This is also a problem in my front yard. People like to walk our street, because of the number of attractive yards; yet quixotically, they allow their dogs to poo in those same yards while they stand and admire the variety of hosta, daylilies, or roses!

Now, I don't think there is any place in America looking quite as prosperous as they did just five years ago. A few more houses needing to be painted that aren't getting painted, a few more obviously vacant houses, and houses for rent and for sale. (When I bought my house in the village a dozen years ago, it was the first house I had seen with a for sale sign in the village-- ever.) Luckily, we have no boarded up real estate or gutted, foreclosed houses. A lot of my neighbors are working a lot more and earning less and spending less time and money on their homes. I see a bit more accumulation of debris around their sheds and garages that either is not accepted in county landfills or they have no way to get it there.

Maybe this rant belongs in the weekly newspaper rather than in my blog, but I think it is a problem in many places. I don't know if it is laziness or just a don't care attitude, but it is a small step. No, I am not so delusional thinking that if you pick up your dog's poo, the economy will improve. But it is a first step, maybe on a long path. We all need to care about the communities we live in and to stage them as well as we can. We need to look as prosperous as we can, so our homes are perceived as valuable and worthwhile places to live and grow. We need to care about our neighborhoods.

Undeveloped countries have villages with wild "village dogs". I hope this is not a trend coming soon to America.

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