No Pooping on My Property!

Yesterday morning, I noticed a man lingering at the end of my driveway. I went to the door for a better look, and saw that he held a leash, at the end of which a little dog was poking its nose in the grass. “Not again,” I thought to myself. I come upon this scene regularly, with different men, women, and dogs, but the scenario remains the same. The dog wants to poop, and the owners think nothing of letting it poop on my property.

When seeing this, I always go outside and say, “Good morning,” or, “Good afternoon,” or whatever, and quickly proceed before it’s too late, “Please do not let your dog poop on my lawn.”

Invariably, the adult holds up the little plastic bag, the glove and the spoon, and says, “I pick up,” as though that should reassure me, but they misunderstand.

“Yes, I know you pick up, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t let your dog poop on my grass.”

At this point, I might get a dirty look, but you’d be surprised how many dog-walkers repeat the bit about picking up the poop. They actually think I should be OK with dogs pooping on my lawn simply because they pick it up. What they don’t realize is that they can never pick it up entirely.  Traces remain, and other dogs smell it and think they’ve found the toilet.  Also, I have to walk on that lawn when I cut it, and my grandkids run on it when the weather is nice.

Yesterday, after the man shook his little plastic bag at me, and repeated, “I pick up,” and I repeated, “Yes, I know, but I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t let your dog poop on my grass,” he replied, “Don’t worry, she won’t do anything.”

I stood there for a moment, watching the dog root around for a likely spot. “You can let your dog poop over there,” I suggested, gesturing to the neighbor’s lawn, “or over there,” I added, gesturing to the lawn across the street.

“Don’t worry, she won’t do anything,” he repeated.

I started walking toward him, not wanting to become rude, but feeling my heart-rate accelerate.

“I’m asking you nicely not to let your dog poop on my grass,” I said, and he finally pulled the dog along. I stood there until they meandered across the street, where the dog immediately dropped its nose and then its haunches.


During my twelve years in Riyadh, the only dog I ever saw was a big brindle Boxer running loose in the city. I felt sorry for the dog, who had obviously escaped from his Western expat compound, and was now lost. He would come to a bad end in Riyadh, where no one loved dogs, and no one kept them.

Most Arabs dislike dogs, and will avoid them. Their abhorrence originates from a religious belief in the ritual impurity of dogs, a belief that is controversial, and sometimes exaggerated.

Before living in Riyadh, I loved dogs, but after twelve years during which not a single dog crossed my path, except that poor loose Boxer, I was used to living without them. In fact, I grew to appreciate an atmosphere free of dog hair, dog breath, and other leavings. I started to wonder why anyone in his/her right mind would keep a dog in the house, and have to feed it, clean up after it, walk it, and treat it somewhat like a member of the family.

Upon repatriation, I noticed that most American households— most, I am not kidding— had dogs. Some people kept more than one. Strangely, all these dogs sat home in empty houses every day because everyone worked.

When I was a youngster in the 1950s, only married couples with children kept dogs. Single people did not keep dogs or even cats, out of a consideration for the emotional well-being of the animal. We believed that pets should not stay alone all day while adults  worked. We believed that domesticated animals belonged with families where women stayed home and took care of the household matters, including dogs, and children came home from school early enough to take dogs for walks before dinner.

Anyway, today’s pet owners think nothing of leaving their dogs and cats home alone all day, sometimes in crates. These people are clearly in the majority, but I remain in the minority. I still don’t believe pets belong in empty houses while the human occupants run off to work or school all day, and sometimes into the evening.

In any event, I do not want dogs pooping on my lawn. I’m ready to put up a few NO POOPING signs. I’ve seen these little signs in stores, but my mom (with whom I live) thinks they look tacky, so I have to keep an eye on the lawn through the front window. I’m on the poop-patrol, and I chalk up one more way in which my Riyadh years changed my life in a fundamental way, taking me further away from mainstream America than I could have imagined.

About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, retired from a job in a hospital, gratefully relieved from the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions, and narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people. I still dream of spending more time in the Middle East and Italy, though the dreaming now seems more real than the possibilities. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
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7 Responses to No Pooping on My Property!

  1. hebah1985 says:

    Could you put up a fence around your home?

  2. iMuslim says:

    I don’t think having an aversion to other people’s pets dumping on your lawn has anything to do with whether you are a dog person or not! It’s gross, and not something they would like done on their own lawn – in fact, why don’t they make their dogs go on their own property?

  3. Susanne says:

    Oh,I can relate to not liking dogs using your lawn as a toilet! And,yep, there are a lot of people with dogs in the US. Interesting how your time in KSA changed your view of them! I think I only saw one dog the 12 days I was in Damascus and that was in the Christian quarter of the old city at the internet café.

  4. Marahm says:

    We can’t put fences around our properties in this community; there are certain laws about how a house, with its surrounding vegetation, should look. It’s a local affair. Other communities allow fences. I used to walk around the neighborhood for exercise, but dogs— again, dogs!— spoiled my fun because they’d run barking across their grass to either greet me or growl at me.

    Years ago, people did make dogs poop on their own property, but these days, Amercicans are so enamored of dogs, and so indulgent of them, that they can poop anywhere they like, and people simply pick up after them, most of the time. When my Egyptian husband first came here, and saw how emotionally involved Americans were with their dogs, he said, “The American dogs have better lives than the people!”

    I haven’t turned against dogs. I’ve simply backed off the traditional American attitude, which is no longer traditional, but, as my husband observed, totally indulgent. Dogs fill an important role, especially when they are trained for search and rescue, or “seeing eyes” for the blind. Dogs are now being used as “healing companions” for sick people. I am bothered, however, by the increasing trend of how people are using dogs to satisfy their needs of affiliation when they have unsatisfying or even no important human relationships. Dogs and cats are filling in for absent husband and wives. I see that at work, where many of my colleagues are unmarried and living alone, except for the dogs and cats that give their home life some structure. .

  5. djd says:

    I feel the same as you and I have never been to Riyadh.

  6. Catfish says:

    LOL, poop poop poop, I feel the same about people that come to America with their poop issues, such as yours and always tryin to convert their surroundings before they accept and imbrace it. If dogs could be trained to use a toilet as humans do, then I’m sure, that would be a business that would soon be reaping large profits. The fact that you have to get out and do poop patrol is part of what makes up your life now, but maybe you should get a dog of your own and fight fire with fire or have a hose at the ready, if you can read between the lines. Once it’s known that you are a contender others will respect your area. Not sure if you can understand this western thinging but give it a few moments to sink in, I’m sure you’ll do the right thing, hopefully.

  7. Marahm says:

    Catfish, I take offense at your suggestion that I may not “understand this western thinging”. As for “tryin to convert their surroundings”, one of America’s most cherished prinicpals is the right of the homeowner to protect his/her own home, and to do (or not do) whatever he/she chooses, within the limits of the law. There is no need for any homeowner in America to “accept and imbrace” anything that violates his/her personal prinicples, within the realm of his/her own property.

    While walking the public domain, however, everyone has a responsibility to respect the rights of other people, and that is why I do not walk in areas where dogs are welcome to walk and poop.

    I do not want a dog in my home, and I do not want dogs (or their leavings) on my property. There is nothing in that sentiment that reflects upon my social intelligence or my cultural integration. Your comment, however, with its typos and innuendo, reflects upon yours.

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