A Call to Action for My Neighbors

Letter to the Editor

Anyone who has walked, jogged, or pushed a stroller along our Village streets knows that the sidewalks are not in the best shape. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has tripped over the uneven pavement or one of the giant cracks that has broken the sidewalk into pieces. I know I'm not the only parent who has rammed their baby's stroller into a portion of sidewalk that has risen up in reaction to the elements. Surely I can't be the only one who has watched her kid tumble off her bike and plummet to the ground after riding into a sidewalk pothole. (Yeah, I know you aren't supposed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. Would you like me to send my 2 year old into the streets?)

As a frequent sidewalk user, I'm ever so annoyed every time I venture out in the Village. However, I'm going to give the government a break this time. Our weather does a number on man-made roadways and it costs an exorbitant amount of money to fix it all at once. Who I'm not going to let off the hook are my fellow residents. It's bad enough to have to watch your step for bumps and cracks, and this time of year, ice and snow, but it's really the worst to have to dodge dog poop.

Yesterday, Charlotte and I attended an assembly at Caroline's school. The parking lot was full at our time of arrival so we had to park a block away and walk. It was raining so Char plodded along with her snow boots and a large purple umbrella. Some of the sidewalk was now covered in a rainy ice/slush mess so we walked carefully as not to slip. Char did her best to pick up her heavy booted feet while holding the umbrella in one hand and my hand in her other. As the rain poured down, and we walked along at a snail's pace, I could see the school in my sights. So close, yet so far away.

We were 1/4 of the way there when I looked down to see a dozen, flat dog poop patties mushed between ice patches on the sidewalk. I shouted an emergency warning to Char, "Char! Look out! Look out! Pooooooop!" It was too late. She couldn't figure out where to step in the battle between ice patch and dog crap. Her deeply-treaded boots stepped right into the poop. Over and over. The harder she tried, the more likely she would step in it. Even I could barely step around the terrible turds.

The walk back to the car, with both girls, was no easier. I tried my best to make a game out of it. "Come on girls! Let's play hop-crap!" Yes, let's play dodge-the-crap!" The snow flanking the side walk was too crusty and deep to walk on and the road was busy with school pick-up traffic. What was a girl to do? March on and pay the consequences later.

Dear Village Neighbor and Fellow Dog Owner:

Please scoop your dog's excrement from the sidewalk. I have two kids, both have worn diapers at one time. Did I let them drop one in front of your house as we went for a walk? You can go to the pet store and buy all sorts of gadgets so that you don't even have to touch the poop. Or, you can go low-tech and bring a few baggies with you. Listen, I feel your pain. We have a giant puppy and he takes monster craps in my yard. (We don't let him walk in town because he is not ready for prime time.)Yes, so there are huge turds all over my yard. It stinks. Really, it does. But my husband follows the dog around and shovels them up. What did you ask? Yes, my husband does that. And he cleans the litter pans, too. Good man. Anyway, cleaning up dog crap is the worst but you HAVE to do it.

Do you know what it is like to clean stinky dog poop from thick tread boots? It's not fun at all. It's downright awful. You have to get a stick and dig it out and it flings all over the place, and you just have to hope it doesn't fly up at you. Or you have to clean it out of your car carpets because your kids rubbed their feet as they got in the car. It's not easy scrubbing poop out of carpet pile. And how to you respond to this one? When we finally made it to the car yesterday, Caroline made this astute observation. "Mom, that dog poop looked like chocolate." Me: "Yeah, but it's not chocolate. It's not chocolate at all." Caro: "But it looks so much like chocolate." Me: "It's really, really not chocolate and you should never, ever put it anywhere near your mouth. Ever." Caroline: "But, Mom!" Me: "NEVER! EVER!"

Dear Neighbor, please take 2 seconds to carefully cradle your dog's feces in your plastic baggie-clad hands and then toss it in your own garbage, or the woods behind your house, or even in your own yard, for you to step in later and dig out of your boot treads. Thank you so much!

P.S. Charlotte is potty training. I'd hate to see her diaper accidentally slip off in front of your yard. That would be terrible...

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