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. 😉