Picking Dog Poo is My Cross to Bear


by Michelle X. Curran

God, I wish I had a backbone.

That’s not a heavenly plea. It’s more of a lament.

For two weeks, I’ve been in turmoil over the fact that a neighbor’s dog has been pooping in my yard. For two weeks – two weeks! – I have gone out to my yard most every day, and, with great theatrics (i.e., looking around with great disgust, muttering not-so-much under my breath), have picked up steaming piles of fresh, fly-covered dog poo. Sorry. I’m not trying to gross you out. I’m just setting the scene. Do you have a visual now? Yes? Good.

For two weeks, I have been texting my husband at work: “Hey, how’s your day? I just picked up more poop. WTF.”

For two weeks, I have been that crazy lady, peeping through her kitchen curtains, knowing full well that catching the suspect dog in the act (I am 90 percent sure of the culprit) will only serve to make my spineless self even more angry.

For two weeks, I’ve walked around my house, my stomach in knots, trying to psych myself up to talk to my neighbor about this in a non-threatening, friendly way. But how do I do this?

“Hey there, neighbor. Nice weather we’re having. Well, anyhoo, I’ve been picking up steaming piles of dog poo in my yard. Do you think it could be your dog?”

I mean, how can someone not take offense to that?

As you can see, this is really bothering me.

And yet.

I do nothing to relieve my angst.

So, what am I teaching my children then about confrontation?

Avoid it at all costs. That’s what I am teaching them. To be passive aggressive and hold it all in until you are seething so much you fling the dog poo back into your neighbor’s yard, feeling good for a split second but then living in fear that you may have been caught on some type of surveillance camera and now your neighbor hates you. (That scenario is hypothetical, of course.)

I’d like to believe that I have many strengths and admirable qualities that I am passing along to my children. But being direct in the face of a possible disagreement is not one of them.

But here’s the bitch of the whole thing. My neighbor is not an unreasonable person. He’s not going to come after me with a snow shovel or toilet paper my house or go on a crusade to blacklist my kids from trick or treat.

Our families are actually pretty friendly.

So what he’s probably going to say is: “Oh, sorry. I’ll take care of it.”

And yet.

When I go outside, I can’t bring myself to walk the 20 or 30 feet to his door and start a conversation about it.

So until I can get a backbone, picking up poo is my cross to bear.

Michelle Xiarhos Curran is a freelance writer and mom of three in Newburyport.  Visit her website at www.pbjandchardonnay.com.