THERE ARE places to pee and places not to pee, and on top of flowers is most definitely not the place to loose your dog.
I say that as the grandmother of the magnificent Lula the Murderess, a Plott Hound-Lab mix who is conducting a brief stay, and of whom I am fond enough to sleep even though she stinks at the moment, never mind what she did to my sweet parakeet Vinnie, which I cannot bear to discuss.
In addition to parks and other clearly public areas, Washington, DC, homeowners do not own the strip of grass that divides sidewalk from street. In fact, many of us do not own our front yards—we won’t get into the reason—even though we might plant them and tend them and water them at considerable expense.
Should we then be surprised that so many dog owners consider it within their rights to coo tenderly as Fido squats on the liriope? It is THEIR space too, is it not? And should you scream STOP, as some of us are prone to do, these owners draw themselves up in haughtiest hauteur and umbrage away, “THIS is PUBLIC space.”
My Prince tends a garden, of sorts, in the sidewalk patch in front of our house. Over the years he has planted it with a rather odd but endearing assortment of plants that include native grasses, a rose of sharon, a mock orange, the aforementioned liriope and many, many packets of seed. Of the probably 30 bucks he invested in seed this year, ONE cosmos plant emerged. And, unfortunately, it was yellow, a color neither of us much cares for . . . except in daffodils.
And why does this happen?
Tromp tromp tromp go the dogs, an endless stream (that’s a pun) morning and night—sometimes a clutch of them doing their noonsies on the arm of one of our many professional walkers (amazing how this became a profession). Cute little signs featuring squatting pups that say NO! don’t help, and whether I ask nicely or bellow at them, the doggers spit right back:
IT’S PUBLIC SPACE.
Yes, you turkey (to put it mildly, and ‘tis the season), it IS public space—your space and mine, and some of us appreciate it when these patches of earth are kept nice and not used as a stinking toilet for your forking pet. PEE KILLS PLANTS.
If you live on Capitol Hill, as I do, and are looking for some fine spots to guide your dog, I can direct your attention to an assortment of Very Ugly Gardens. All of them could use a dose of fertilizer.
And when you pick up that fertilizer, do your neighbors the favor of not just tossing the stinky little bag into someone’s trash can: Either take it home with you or put it inside a trash bag that’s already inside the can. You know why you sometimes see a little shitty baggy lying on the sidewalk? It’s because it fell out of the trash as it was being collected and the keepers of the trash will not pick it up. I don’t blame them.
Speaking of signs . . .
My friend Maggie and I were walking along Pennsylvania Avenue on a mild and lovely afternoon, the Capitol dome
shining behind us, when a young woman guided her dog OVER the low railing that surrounded a freshly planted tree box and watched adoringly as her pet lifted his leg on the pansies.
Maggie said—and she’s got this wonderfully intimidating English accent so if we’re together I generally let her say things when things need to be said—YOUNG LADY, Why are you letting your dog RUIN that planter?
And the young lady looked up and said, and I kid you not, “There was no sign.”
There was no sign. This is the plant equivalent of McDonald’s marking coffee containers as HOT.
Is it worse when the miscreants say nothing?
I give as an example: Coming home from Eastern Market last Sunday, I was approaching a most jauntily dressed young woman, beret tilted just so on her shiny black hair, red coat nipped at the waist, black boots—very Kate Middleton, as I’m thinking British—walking her fuzzy white yappy thing, and she directed it into someone’s carefully tended curbside garden and then watched lovingly as the pooch took a splendid dump directly on top of a patch of pansies.
This was so stunning I stopped dead on the pavement and bellowed: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Did she cringe? Did she even acknowledge me, towering over her in my stomping-around-Paris boots with the platform soles that give me a couple of extra inches with which to tower?
Not only did she not, she continued on her way, in the same direction I was taking, when anyone with any sense of shame would have had the decency to slink around the corner and at least pretend she was not going my way. After several blocks she skipped up the path to, presumably, her own house.
I know where you live, honey, and I’ve got a bigger dog than yours and she’s JUST BEEN FED.
LittleBird Stephanie promises to be less cranky next week. You can read her earlier columns by looking for Green Acre in the Search box , top right.