Salut! I don’t usually post on Fridays but here we are… Also, if any of you reading get buried under the weekend snow, PLEASE SEND ME SNOW PICTURES!! I majorly miss the blizzards of the Northeast and it would make my weekend if you sent me some of the shots from around your neighborhood. Serious. OK, onto today’s post.
Whenever I’m alone walking home from the grocery store or the gym, no one says anything to me. But when I’m out walking Dagny, people will approach us to pet her, ask for directions, and in today’s story, tell me where my dog can and cannot pee. So let me take you back to last week when our morning walk started out like any other walk…
Dog peeing on the sidewalk
Off topic for a minute, but aside from the gym, I think I interact the most with French people when there’s an altercation involving something pet related. Like when I was the dog helper. When I found a loose dog and brought him to safety. When aggressive, leashless dogs charge at us. When I’m being told where my dog can pee. That kind of stuff. OK, back to the story.
So first let me set this up. We have a small backyard (pictured above) and Dagny will do her morning business out back most of the time. After a few hours go by, we go for a walk. She usually has to pee again and will do so in the grass about one block over. Or at the park. To get from our front door to this grassy area, you have to walk past an apartment building that has ground level apartments with balconies that back right up to the public sidewalk. The balconies and sidewalks are separately by a concrete wall and there’s no space at the bottom. From your balcony, it’s impossible to reach your foot or hand under if there was something on the sidewalk you wanted to pick up. For someone or something on the sidewalk to get to your balcony, it would have to jump over a waist-height wall.
OK, moving on. Here we are moseying along at the speed of a snail, which is our regular pace along this stretch because all the dogs in the ‘hood make the same loop and I guess it smells good. About halfway down the street, Dagny pauses to sniff around. The ground is littered with leaves, some trash and the occasional dog poop that a forgetful owner left behind. On this particular day it had been raining on and off all morning. As Dagny sniffed around, I just stood there… long enough for a woman inside one of the ground level apartments to come out and start talking to me. She was in her 50s and I’d never seen her before. We didn’t get off on the right foot and she was much too young to be so crotchety. Once you’re 70 or 80, like the majority of residents in that building, no problem. You get a pass.
She tells me that I’m not walking my dog correctly and that it’s not normal for my dog to pee on her balcony.
I whipped around and said, excuse me? My dog has never peed ON your balcony. How would that happen? She’s barely a foot tall and can’t jump over concrete. She corrected herself and said not ON her balcony but on the sidewalk in front of her balcony. Here we go.
I looked down and managed to tell her with a smile, “I don’t choose where my dog pees and as long as it’s outside, that’s already great!” She didn’t like my joke.
I very politely told her I understood her point but my dog wasn’t peeing, first off, and the sidewalk is a public space and doesn’t belong to anyone in particular. She still wasn’t happy. In an effort to clear the air, I reclarified that my dog was sniffing, not peeing, and if she did pee it’s always raining so it’s not a problem. She didn’t like that either and said, well peeing or not, you shouldn’t be walking her near my balcony at all.
Say what now?!
At this point I was fed up and after surveying the littered ground, I told her, “Maybe the trash is a better thing to concern yourself with? Since the rain doesn’t wash that away?”
She wasn’t pleased. But neither was I. What happened to the friendly “Bonjour??” There was nothing friendly about this.
She proceeds to tell me that dogs should pee closer to the curb or in the street. I told her my dog usually pees in my yard and she was just sniffing! At this point her husband comes out onto the balcony to see what was transpiring.
Then she throws in the kicker which incensed me even more. She tells me (after hearing my accent), “In France, this is how we handle our dogs and dogs in France pee and poop over there,” pointing to the street. This was comical because on this stretch of our walk every day, I see no fewer than two giant dog poops in front of her balcony (none of which have ever come from my dog).
I said I know how you do things in France, you leave your dog poop everywhere!! “Thankfully I’m not French and I pick up after my dog,” proudly waving my bright pink biodegradable waste bag around in the air and pointing to the crap on the ground.
She wasn’t sure what to say. Neither was I.
I took that as my cue to leave, wished her a happy New Year and a bonne journée, flashed her a nice, big American smile and got the heck out of there.
I feel ya
Look, I get what she meant. People let their dogs do their business wherever they want. Like her, I find that disrespectful and gross. I feel for her. Really. She doesn’t want dogs doing their business right in front of her balcony. It looks like crap (as evidenced by the literal crap and other trash and leaves on the ground). But she rudely assumed Dagny was part of the problem and I was just another careless dog owner. Well, I am not. And even if Dagny does go to the bathroom there once in a blue moon, I pick up after her. Every time. And if I forget a bag, I go back later to finish the job. But a small dog peeing on a sidewalk? There are bigger problems to worry about.
Is a dog peeing on the sidewalk that big of a deal?
In NYC, I’d say no not really, but even still, there are different levels of sidewalk peeing code ranging from “unacceptable” to “totally fine.”
Unacceptable: On someone’s personal property like a private balcony or yard. Right at the entrance to a hotel or store.
Not ideal but OK: In the middle of a busy public sidewalk.
Totally fine: When it’s pouring rain. When it’s near the curb. When it’s in a low-traffic/residential area. Small dog that pees about 2 tablespoons of liquid.
Have you ever been told where your dog can and cannot pee? How do you feel about sidewalk peeing?
(and don’t get me started about men who relieve themselves in public. That’s an entirely different post!)
P.S. The opening pic for this post was taken on Rue Cremieux in Paris — definitely not in my neighborhood! The Paris street is wayyy prettier. 😉
First of all, did you HAVE to say this woman’s age? I’m on a mission in defense of “older” women, such as myself. We are ALL not nasty–in fact, most of us are downright adorable!
With that said, I would have smiled at her and made a motion to pull my skinny jeans down (I’m quite the exhibitionist) and said ” OK. If my dog cannot pee, then perhaps you would like it better if I did”? That’ll shut her up! Trust me!
Anyway, here in the philly burbs we are awaiting a huge snow. I laugh at the prediction. I have my own way to predict snow. Years ago I was cleaning the bathroom and had a horrific accident. I fell and the impact was so hard that I bit through my bottom lip and it had to be sewn back together. Since then, whenever a storm is brewing my lip, where it was stitched back, gets a feeling of “tightness”. Never fails. So far my lip is just a tad tight every now and then–that means flurries. Either way, I’ll send you pics!
Hi there, I actually meant 50s as in young because most of the people in the building are 70+ and I feel like once you hit 70 or so you have every right to complain all day. I found it weird that she was so young and was seriously bothered by this. I reserve those types of complaints for like 80+ years old who are elderly and crotchety. But many elderly folks I know are lovely. Let me clarify that in the post!
I love that offer of taking down your pants. The men do it!!
Yikes about your lip. That sounds awful but you have a built in barometer now. I keep checking weather cams and am not seeing snow yet. Thank you for offering to send pics!!
Melissa Bauernfeind says
I got into an argument with a guy once who tried to tell me where my little Charlie Brown could poop. In NYC (all 5 boroughs), the grassy sidewalk curbs are city property. 10 lb Charlie decided to relieve himself on a grassy curb in front of this man’s house (which, I hate when he chooses a house just as the homeowner comes out). I’m with you – we ALWAYS pick up after our dogs. He told me to move him, said it was his property. I told him no, it was city property & I wasn’t going to move my dog mid-poop. We started to argue, then I decided to ignore him & let Charlie finish his business, clean up & move along.
We try to not go on the lawns in front of peoples actual homes but the curb doesn’t belong to them. Neither does the sidewalk. Also city property. I’ll argue every time.
Now for the snow – I’ll send some pics of snow in Queens.
Oh man, why are people so nuts?? If it’s just pee, who cares and if it’s a a poop and you pick up, it’s no big deal. People get their feathers ruffled over nothing.
How much snow did you end up getting?
I was passing a man whose dog was pooping in the park. I took my dog all the way around and off the path so as not to be close to the other dog. I thought I was being very considered. However the man yelled at me using the “B” word and said I should be farther away from his dog. I couldn’t believe it ! So I gave him the sign of the cross (as a priest would) and a blessing and said, “have a nice day.” Then I added, by the way I’m a man not a woman in reference to the “B” word he used. After that he’d walk all the way around to avoid me.
Wow, the guy seems like a nutjob. There you were trying to be respectful and let his dog do his business in peace and YOU get yelled at? And really rudely to boot? Yuck. Do you still see him regularly? I try to give people the benefit of the doubt but there’s no need for that level of rudeness.
Unfortunately I have seen him regularly. I’m thinking he’s not right in the head. I have changed where I walk to avoid him now. I figure I should make my walks as pleasant as possible and to not subject myself to another nasty encounter. I don’t want this crazy to bring out the crazy in me again 🙂
Linda Patton says
Loved the post and can relate – 2 dogs, NYC and yes, pee not a problem here and poop – have to say still those who don’t pick up (commonly men with huge dogs). Got a big laugh out of your “then she throws in the kicker” because I knew exactly what was coming next. Kudos for your oh so smart and right on target on the spot response. Anyway, delightful post for us dog folks and love your sassy take on French life in which I hope to be partaking in the near future so am paying close attention and enjoying it..
Oh yea, the giant dog poops that barely fit in the bag are the worst. I see them all the time. Here it seems like delinquents with their big “status” dogs to prove their manliness are everywhere — as evidenced by the giant poops in the middle of the sidewalk that never get cleaned up. Gross.
Glad you enjoyed the post and the blog in general. When are you moving and what part of France? Enjoy!
Phoebe @ lou messugo says
It sounds like you dealt with this crabby woman very well, with clever retorts and a polite finish. I always come away from a confrontation like that thinking “oh why didn’t I say that…” and in hindsight coming up with plenty of clever retorts that just failed to flow duing the conversation. I’m not a dog owner but I can see how cross you’d be to be lumped with the selfish and careless owners who let their dogs foul all over when you are responsible. I get on mly high horse when falsely accused by busybodies and think you had the right attitude here. BTW I replied to the comment you left on my caterpillar post and would love an answer!
Hey, well this isn’t the first time someone wrongly assumed something about where my dog was doing her business so I had a few replies up my sleeve ready to go !
Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault says
I added a bit too 🙂
Hi Diane, last summer I had an old chap catch up with us on a moped, accusing one of our dogs of pooping outside his house which we’d walked past about half an hour before. We always pick up our dogs poop, we have poops bags in bags and pockets, but when I showed him he went berserk telling us it had to have been one of our dogs (it wasn’t). He even threatened to set his big dogs on our little dogs. Needless to say we have stopped walking past his house as he obviously has serious issues.
As for peeing, I won’t let the dogs pee willy nilly where ever they want to, usually they have peed at home, but our little male dog likes to let other dogs know he’s been there and it is literally a drip or two. Never on peoples property though.
Glad to hear that we aren’t the only place with nutters.
Oh man, that is nuts! The threat he made would have had me so fired up. It’s JUST POOP. I mean yes it’s annoying and a pain in the butt to step in, but to threaten physical harm to another animal because of poop? The guy needs to get a grip. Serious mental problems!
Never had any confrontation when I have been walking my two dogs. I only have small dogs so I guess they fall under the drip or two category!
Great to hear! I think there are enough crazies by me to last a lifetime.
Bob pees everywhere when we go on walks, he’s just so excited to be out and about and he does like to mark his territory, I do however pull on the lead if he attempts to pee on someones car or wall.
I love that your pup’s name is Bob. I understand the marking territory and would do the same if Dagny tried to pee near someone’s property. Luckily since she’s a girl, the pee doesn’t go sideways, just down, but on some walks she’ll pee 5 times (little drops the last 4) just to let everyone know she’s been there. Haha.
Rosie @Eco-Gites of Lenault says
Ha ha, I was about to mention men peeing and you did so right at the end of your post!! Oh dear, this does appear to be a couple with too much time on their hands who have got themselves in a bit of a tizzy over something that is not a big issue. We are lucky in that Saari’s walks are invariably around the local paths and fields so peeing is not a problem for any overly pent up local residents. I do have to admit to her trying to do a sneaky wee in the vet’s waiting room though, against the milk churn that doubles up an an umbrella stand. I suspect many a dog has done the same and it must smell wonderful to her. I have now learnt to keep well away from it whilst I wait and was mortified when she peed up against it the first time!
Many thanks for adding this somewhat amusing but at the some time worrying story to #AnimalTales – there really are some odd people out there!
First off, when I first saw this title, I seriously thought it was about humans… yes humans peeing on the sidewalk (on in the metro and train station hallways). I’m sad to say I’ve seen that far too many times for my own liking, even in the daylight, even well-dressed (not homeless) women.
As far as dogs are concerned, dog pee is the least of my worries when I walk the sidewalks… it’s the poo that is too much to bear. So disgusting. I can’t believe people disrespect their city, neighbourhoods and sidewalks like that.
Human sidewalk peeing is a whole other issue (linked my post on that at the end of this post ;-)) that seems to be alive and well in France. Yuck! Well-dressed women? Oh man, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that and I can’t say I’d be brave enough to try. I’d probably pee on my shoes or pants.
And yes, the dog pee is the least of my concerns too. Seems like the people who don’t pick up after their dogs are the owners of GIANT breeds. Or maybe I just seem to see huge poops more since they are, well, huge. Really is disrespectful, totally in agreement with you!
I live in a village in southern France. My Brit husband and I have 2 labradoodles around which our lives rotate. We do the British thing and pick up whenever and wherever our girls poop, even in a field or roadside verge. Most of the village know us as a quartet and all are friendly and eager to learn about our funny, curly, not quite labradors. Many have remarked upon and thanked us for our pet hygiene. Once, when a grumpy witch yelled at us from an upstairs window not to let our dogs foul the road below, a man getting into his car took her to task, telling her that we were good and considerate citizens and those messes at which she waved were not by us. Maybe it was her son, but a point’s a point! People notice what we do, not just what we say
I just moved to Brussels a few weeks ago and haven’t gotten a good grip on the language yet (I can read a lot and understand some, but I can’t speak much). I was walking my dog today (we live on a busy street), and she smelled another dog’s pee and proceeded to pee there…she is a tiny pomeranian and does this strange thing where she lifts her bum to pee (literally does a handstand; I think it’s hilarious). Anyways, when she moved her bum, the TINIEST spot of pee got on the outdoor step of a business (there are several steps leading into the business, so it wasn’t near the doorway or anything; most of it was on the sidewalk). I kind of scolded her and pulled her away. But an employee smoking outside went completely nuts and starting screaming at me…I apologized and explained that it’s only a spot of pee; not poop. And I said I’m sorry, I don’t speak French. He just went even crazier on me and yelled at other employees inside to look at me. I just ran off with my dog. Now I’m scared to walk my dog in my neighourhood or walk past this business. There is not park nearby, and I see other dogs going on the sidewalks all the time (many people don’t pick up the poo here, but I ALWAYS do)…Also, there is trash, cigarettes, vomit etc. on the streets here, so I really feel I did nothing wrong. My dog always pees in grassy areas and on the sidewalk…I’ve never had anyone say anything to (we’ve lived in 4 countries) until now. I don’t know what he expected…I can’t clean it up! It rains here almost daily and I’m pretty sure he threw his cigarette butt on the street. I was totally shocked and he was quite threatening. 🙁 I’m hoping this was a freak incident and that this isn’t what people typically think here (that dogs can’t pee on pavement). She is an old dog, so she’s not going to hold it until the nearest park!
We have a 5-month old puppy who is still learning the ropes of life, and still pees in a squatting position rather than cocking his leg. Today I was walking him to the local park for a runaround and he suddenly stopped to pee on the pavement. Normally when he stops to sniff around for food I just tug on the lead to keep him walking, but if he’s peeing then I can’t usually move him very easily so I just have to let him finish. Anyway today after he’s peed on the pavement I got berated by a man loading his car nearby – he said that children use the pavement and that I should make the dog go in the street. I thought this a bit much and told him “I don’t think it’s going to kill anyone, are you saying he should move into the gutter?” He said yes, but I told him my puppy wouldn’t be going in the street. at which point he got angry and said “you’re totally inconsiderate and I hope your children die!” I was a bit taken aback by that decided to be on my way. My parting comment however was “Well that makes you a really nice person doesn’t it!”
I did wonder after this whether a dog peeing on the pavement was considered ok. I had always assumed so, although obviously any solid matter would need to be cleared up. But just a bit of pee? What does everyone else think?
Chef Donna says
I know I am posting way after the original but thank you, thank you, thank you and big fat MERCI for writing about this! I have been at my wit’s end about it, walking over Poo aka caca de chien Francais and (don’t get me started) cigarette butts galore and any peel-able fruit scattered about, to have the locals in my lovely medieval village make a point to shame me about my small dogs peeing where (obviously) another chien Francais on the loose has been free to pee without constraint of (que terrible) a leash. I literally return to the spot with a bucket of soapy water and douse it so I don’t have to hear it again. It seems so mean spirited. There is a lone grassy area at the top of the village near the (unused) church and posted right in front, a picture of a dog crossed out. While again, the local canines run lose and poop all over the area. It’s hard not to feel this is aimed at my American dogs and an owner responsibly pickup up poop and keeping the dog on a leash. Thanks for letting me vent.
Hi Donna, sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with the locals. It’s really nuts that some people have an issue with a dog going to the bathroom outside on public property. As long as you pick up after him or her, I don’t see the issue. And you are going above and beyond with the bucket of soapy water! I feel like some people are just unhappy and complainers and will always find something to be mad about. I’d personally smile at these idiots when they say stuff to you and tell them to have a wonderful day and keep on walking. Or if you want to argue, bring up all the dogs off leash and the fruit peels and cig butts. A little deflection so they can focus on the real problem! Ugh, sorry again. Hang in there.