Subscriber Services Weather

Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dog poop and other shining examples of "Only in Miami"

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you know one of my biggest pet peeves is dog owners who let their beasts crap wherever and won't pick it up. If it's in your own yard, let it pile up. I don't care, unless the wind shifts and I can smell it in my yard.

But if it's in my yard, or on that little strip of grass on the swale that the city requires me to maintain as if it was mine, then it's a different story.

Still, in spite of my peeves I've been making a concerted effort lately to be less of a curmudgeon and more of a neighborly kind of guy. I don't wanna become that crotchety old guy who calls the Environmental Protection Agency every time someone farts outside.

There is a thin line between vigilance and being uptight. I don't want to cross it.

Nevertheless, after reading my paper this morning and watching Reliable Sources w/Howard Kurtz, I stood to stretch and walked out to my front porch...just in time to see one of the dog poop bandits letting his rat terrier bend a fresh biscuit on my swale. And not to be too graphic, but considering the size of the dog this was a really large biscuit - practically a whole loaf.

So yes, I was pissed off. Like Homer Simpson I was fighting to control the bulging vein in my neck.

And I had to quickly decide on one of three options:
  1. Go outside and drop kick the rat terrier and the rat holding his leash all the way back to their house.
  2. Go outside and ask/suggest/tell the rat holding the leash to pick up his terrier's loaf - according to city ordinance.
  3. Ignore what I saw, turn around and go back in the house and continue soaking up the pleasant atmosphere my morning had started in.

I can tell you right now that option one wouldn't work, 'cause I'm too pretty to go to jail. And I give to the Humane Society and adopt animals from there. Last thing I need is them camped outside my house with picket signs, 'cause I punted a dog and his owner 30 yards.

Option three was also bad, 'cause I wouldn't feel right if I ignored what I saw. It would make me a hypocrite to ignore it. Sorry, but this was no small violation as far as I'm concerned. That is one of the least responsible things a pet owner can do - other than abuse their animals, in my opinion. And it damn sure ain't very neighborly.

So I went outside. Here's where the "Only in Miami" thing comes in (BTW, I live outside the city of Miami, but for the sake of conversation I refer to everything in Southeast Florida as "Miami" or "the Miami area"):

I open my front door, step out, and approach:

Me: Um, 'scuse me, but I notice your dog is going on my swale here. I have spare bags if you need one. It'd be no problem.

Rat: Oh, um, you do have a spare? Um, yeah, sure.

Me: No problem.

Intermission: The look on his face was a mixture of "I'm busted" and "I'm annoyed that I'm busted." So I turn to walk back inside and get him a bag and then...

Rat: Wait a minute. Why should I pick it up? I think your dog has gone in front of my house.

Me: Nice try. This is a hateful chore, picking up dog crap. But I'm religious about it 'cause it pisses me off when I see it laying around. So if you saw my dog go in front of your house, you also saw me stoop seconds later to pick it up.

Rat: Oh really?

Me: Yeah, really.

Rat: Well, I still don't have to pick it up. No police saw me do it. And if they didn't see me, nothing can happen to me.

Me: Wrong again. You can still get a ticket.

Rat: Nah-anh. It's just a misdemeanor.

Me: Um yeah, that's why I said you could still get a ticket. I didn't suggest jail.

Rat: How many people do you see in this neighborhood carrying bags?

Me: Not enough. But if I'm guessing correctly by the tone of your voice that you think you're better than "those" people, why not do the right thing and pick up your dog crap?

Rat: Well, I still don't have to. Besides, you didn't really ask me nicely.

Me: My reaction to your trying to sneak off notwithstanding, the issue here is your dog crapped outside your yard and in front of mine. The city says you have to pick it up, or else. What are you gonna do?

Rat: It's just a misdemeanor. You can call my lawyer if you want.

Me: Don't need to, unless your lawyer is also gonna let his dog crap in front of my house and not pick it up.

Rat: If you'd only asked nicer this wouldn't be an issue.

Me: We're talking in circles. Let's agree I'm not nice. That doesn't change the fact that your dog went, you got busted, you're embarassed that you got caught. And now, instead of showing some character and cleaning up after your dog you're making this about how I offended your delicate sensibilities.

Rat: You wrote me that letter last year.

Me: You mean the letter I wrote you (instead of calling Animal Control), after your Jack Russell slipped under your gate, bit my dog on the leg during our walk and then squeaked back under your gate? Let me guess that letter wasn't nice either?

Rat: Well, no. It wasn't nice to send me a letter.

Me: As opposed to calling Animal Control and the cops and, again, you getting ticketed? I think it was the most neighborly thing I could have done. I wasn't gonna come through the gate and knock on your door. It was enough to keep my dog on his leash and stop him from swallowing yours whole. I can't say how I would have reacted if he'd bitten me instead.

Rat: Well, I'm leaving. You're not nice.

Conclusion: I can't complete the rest of the transcript 'cause we both traded a few words of French, the variety that only comes in three and four letter words. If you're at all curious, he didn't pick up after his dog. Rat kept walking 'cause I'd hurt his feelings. He was wrong about the cops having to see him in the act though. And while I don't want to be that guy, that curmudgeon, as a matter of principle, I'm gonna make sure Rat gets a ticket.

So what is the lesson to be learned here? None, necessarily. Rat may remain for the rest of his life that French word I called him. Because I startled him today, and he'll never know when I'm hanging out on my porch (not often), I'll bet he won't let his dog go in front of my house again, even if he is carrying a bag. But the important thing is he got called out. Before this process is over he'll get a ticket. And he'll be taught - whether he learns anything from it or not - that there are consequences for purposely being bad toward other folks. You may get your justice by way of the law. You may get it by way of karma. But you'll get it.

That's all for me, folks. I'm off to take my dog on a long walk...with plenty of bags in my back pocket.

Peace and hair grease!

Labels: , ,


  • My biggest pet peeve is someone claiming offense just to get out of something they know is wrong.

    Still, you should make sure he gets a ticket. In most other circumstances, I'd think that a ticket would be taking it too far and say something about how we all just have to get along. But after that whole conversation, he needs it. Right now, he can keep on letting his dog crap wherever without picking it up, and probably will just to prove to himself that he still has pride after your encounter. But a ticket would hopefully be a more effective influence of behavior than his pride.

    By Blogger hyacinths and biscuits, at 5:06 PM  

  • James, you're so concerned about punishing others for their transgressions. You should be a judge.

    By Blogger Matt, at 5:43 PM  

  • You can't get a moment's peace and quiet at home without hearing wiggers using the N-word or seeing foul beasts crapping on your yard.

    That's no way to live.

    By Blogger Matt, at 5:44 PM  

  • You did the right thing James.
    Your neighbor has a lot in common with the excrement left on your lawn.

    That turd needs to be picked up and left on the front porch of your nemesis.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 5:50 PM  

  • I had to deal with this last year with my neighbor. They let their dog poop all over my yard and did nothing to clean it up. HELLO, I don't have a dog so my yard shouldn't be filled with poop. Like you, I sent them an anonymous letter complaining of the problem but nothing changed, they still let their dog go in my yard.

    While they were out running errands, I went and scooped the poop up from my yard and politely dumped it all over the entrance to their front door.

    They must have gotten the message that time because my grass has been poop-free ever since. You should try it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:54 PM  

  • Hammer...

    I had not read your message prior to me typing the first comment (anonymous) but I agree leaving them the gift of poop on their porch works wonders.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:57 PM  

  • H&B, I'll follow through. My logic is like yours on this. Had he not been so much of an orifice I'd probably have given him an out and just said something like "don't sweat it; I'm sure we all forget our bags sometimes."

    Matt, you are so far off base. I'm not trying to punish folks. Don't wanna be a judge. I'm trying to make sure I live in peace. And if that means reminding you that while in my perimeter you're gonna follow the rules then so be it. However, outside of my perimeter, you can do whatever you want. It's up to the people closest to you elsewhere to decide whether or not to let you be irresponsible or whether to put you in check.

    Hammer, I was tempted to do that. But I realize, as Matt tried to allude to, that if I'm gonna call people out sometimes, someone will be waiting in the wings to say "A-ha!" So I ain't perfect. But since I called this guy out over dog crap I've gotta take a higher road when handling it, so to speak.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:37 PM  

  • Anonymous, I like your style. But like I told Hammer I hafta rein myself in. There are pissin' matches and poopin' matches. If I leave this Rat's leavin's on his front stoop I'll be getting into a potential poopin' match. And they're a lot messier than the former, I hear.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 6:39 PM  

  • That would have thrown me into a screaming rage. I can't stand to hear that kind of "it's not my fault" attitude in people. It's called personal responsibility. If you don't want to pick up the poop, then don't get a dog.

    I hope the ticketing works for you. I'm a ninny - I would be afraid he will just retaliate with poop on YOUR front door or something.

    By Blogger fiwa, at 7:33 PM  

  • Nah, Balou, he won't do that. There are the crazies and the lazies. I'm a reasonably good judge of character. And I'm comfortable he's the latter.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 7:39 PM  

  • Once my dog was poohing on that strip between the street and sidewalk in front of someones house and I'm pretty sure they turned on the sprinklers because they saw us... Haha... And I ALWAYS pick up his poop. Too bad they didn't know that.

    By Blogger Erica AP, at 7:40 PM  

  • I have no idea how people keep thier cool in these situations. Io so. His "you know what" needed to be whipped! I know it's not right, but he and his rat dog were asking for it. : (

    By Blogger Angie, at 7:55 PM  

  • Erica, I know I sound crazy. But I swear I don't sit around peering out of my porch window waiting for a vialator. On those rare occasions when I actually see someone doing it in front of my house I always give the benefit of the doubt. I'd never say something to someone before I waited to see what they were gonna do. In this guy's case, it was clear by his actions, his furtive glances, and his motion to start walking that he had no intention of picking up. So I figured I'd check him sooner than normal.

    Angie, amen! This guy deserved a good chin checking, but like I said I'm too pretty to go to jail.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 8:22 PM  

  • What a turd.. not the dog biscuit...the owner.

    I had a BIG dog and I ALWAYS carried my little pink scented bags. BUT, he never would go anywhere except in his own back yard. I think he had a complex about poo'ing in public, like a lot of people do.

    You are a much nicer person than I am. I would have walked over, picked up the pooop with my bare hand, and stuffed it in his pocket...... if he was lucky enough to have a pocket.

    (Okay... that was ME2, my alter ego responding to this post)

    By Blogger Pamela, at 8:36 PM  

  • Oh mannnn, I don;t even have a dog anymore but I can safely say that when I did, I ALWAYS took a poop bag with me. I also have a go at people who let their dogs crap on our nature strip out there. Let's hope this drongo stands in a lump of crap wearing his best shoes one day..payback is beautiful!!
    BTW, my neck vein was standing out reading this post, that guy is a turd!!!

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 9:37 PM  

  • I have a neighbor who got so tired of cleaning poop off his sidewalk that he purchased and put up a sign requesting dog owners clean up after their pets. Guess what that got him MORE of.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 9:58 PM  

  • Don't situations like this often end up with headlines in the paper the next day saying something like "Neighbors have shootout in the street over dog droppings"?

    haha .. You could always sue him in Judge Judy's court. ;-)

    By Blogger Jay, at 10:40 PM  

  • Pamela, my alter ego felt the same way.

    Cazzie, we can only hope his cosmic payback will be that good.

    Sarc, a sign would definitely be begging for punishment. I could totally see folks taking that as an invitation.

    Jay, we're on the same page. Much as I would have liked to grab the stuff and shove it in his pockets, down here you can get shot for embarassing someone too much or making them look too silly. I like being on the front page, but only when my name is at the top of the story, not in the headline.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:37 PM  

  • Reason number 27 why I'm not a dog owner.

    By Blogger SWF41, at 9:00 AM  

  • This is one of my pet peeves too,no pun intended...I also own a dog....I walk him four times a day. I carry newspaper strips and plastic bags...when the dog stoops down i put newspaper under him and let him go on it...then fold it up and place it in the bag. I've had "neighbors" come out and tell me not to let my dog "go" there..I tell them his poop isn't even touching the ground! They tell me that just his scent will draw other dogs to the spot!!! So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't!

    By Blogger Odat, at 9:40 AM  

  • SWF41, you could own a dog though, 'cause you're no doubt a more responsible person than this guy. It's only the lazies or the irresponsible jerks who shouldn't be allowed to have pets.

    Wow, Odat, you go over and above. I might have to try that - strips of newspaper. Could be less messy.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 10:04 AM  

  • As long as you're not sitting there with a pair of binoculars, James.

    By Blogger Matt, at 12:17 PM  

  • Good for you! I'll bet he won't let it happen again.

    By Blogger Freddie, at 12:21 PM  

  • Nope, Matt. I use a telescope.

    And Freddie, that's what I'm banking on.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:17 PM  

  • I think the Puritans had it right with that whole Scarlet Letter thing.

    Could you petition your community group to punish offenders by forcing them to wear shirts that read something to the effect of "When my dog poops, I fail to scoop" when they're out dog-walking?

    By Blogger thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy, at 9:16 PM  

  • Oooh, that made me so angry just reading it! What an @ssh*le!!!!!

    At least you got to say a few things to him, but he sounds like an IDIOT.

    By Blogger bc, at 9:29 AM  

  • ThirdWorst, I like the T-shirt idea. I'd like to see him forced to wear that message on a sandwhich board.

    BC, I'm hoping at least the words stick w/him and he at least feels guilted into acting like he has good sense.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:46 PM  

  • I hate it too James! You did the right thing.

    By Blogger Winter, at 3:39 PM  

  • This is why I would have a fence. And a trespassing sign. And a rabid dog eating wolverine.

    By Blogger Wavemancali, at 11:13 AM  

  • Some of the comments that people posted here reminds me of what my husband did a couple of years ago...this lady from a few streets away walks her dogs down our street every day, sometimes more than once a day. She let one of her dogs do "it's" duty in our yard and failed to clean it up. Well my husband, the man that he is new the women and where the woman lived. Kindly knocked on her door and handed her a big bag of poop and told her that her dog left something behind. He also reminded her it's a law to pick-up after your pets. From then on she made sure when passing our house with her dogs we could see that see was carrying a bag. By the way, we don't have any pets for that reason(well one of the reasons), we don't want the responsibility.

    By Anonymous macathrt, at 6:53 PM  

  • I can not stand people who don't pick up after their dog(s). We have a very similar problem here... check out:
    and see what we did about it ... usually it takes a little public humiliation to get some action taken.

    By Anonymous HateTheHamlets, at 3:38 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home