Neighbors. Or Neighbours. Depends where you live.

By Veronica

Our neighbor Bob lets his dog poop in our yard. And he doesn’t clean it up.

It is exasperating to take my children out to play – my arms full of baby – and find that our small yard is not “safe” for running in. I have apparently muttered about this too often in the children’s hearing, because my daughters now say, as though by rote, “It’s rude not to clean up after your dog.”

Eventually I talked to Bob, low-key and without confrontation. He could not admit that he does not clean up after his dog, but insisted that another neighbor’s dog is the real culprit. He’s only making excuses; I’ve seen Bob’s dog in the act.

If this went the way such blog posts usually do, I would end with something clever and angry, and you would tell your own story about an irresponsible dog owner, or would encourage me to take some drastic action againt Bob and his dog.

But there is always more to the story. I had a dog once too, and I was not always diligent in cleaning up after her (usually, but not always). My unwillingness to take on that responsibility again is the reason we do not get another dog. But if our old dog got loose in Bob’s yard, Bob never complained.

For every vacation we have had since we moved to this house, Bob has watched our pet birds for us without complaint, and without expecting payment.

Bob loves my children. He is diabetic, but brings cookies home from his favorite bakery so he can give them to my girls. When we come home from the grocery store, the girls run up onto Bob’s porch and he entertains them while I go inside and put the groceries away.

And when they go to his porch (“Missuh Smih! Missuh Smih!” my two-year-old eagerly calls), Bob calls his little dog, who yaps and licks and never, ever nips the enthusiastic children who hug him.

Bob is a great neighbor. Every neighbor comes with inconveniences and tensions. Living next to someone presents a hundred places for the closeness to rasp and blister. Part of being a good neighbor myself is learning how to live together, instead of treating people like problems to be solved. Part of being a good neighbor is learning to appreciate the good things you see in others, and putting up with the bad.

Even when the bad is poo.

12 Responses to Neighbors. Or Neighbours. Depends where you live.
  1. AmyG
    May 12, 2009 | 10:28 am

    I really should take a lesson from this. I’m finding it particulary hard to find good in my neighbors, but I need to change MY attitude, then maybe things will be better between us.

  2. Stephanie
    May 12, 2009 | 10:28 am

    I get this so much. Said perfectly.


  3. Felicia (aka Mommy B)
    May 12, 2009 | 10:56 am

    I was ready to be pissed-off right along with you about the renegade dog crap, but your perpective is great and your good attitude is catching. What a nice lesson. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tonggu Momma
    May 12, 2009 | 11:03 am

    This is oh, so true. It’s freeing to see the good in people.

  5. Kimberly
    May 12, 2009 | 11:58 am

    I suppose it could be worse. It could be a big dog. With big poo. Like the Bernese Mountain Dog I had next door.

  6. My name is Rachel but when I try to comment with that name it tells me to log in and I don't see where to do that.
    May 12, 2009 | 2:11 pm

    Pooper scooper at Wal-Mart: under $10.
    Bribing your oldest to use it for you if your hands are full: $.25/episode.
    Good relations with a kind neighbor: Priceless.


    Thanks for this reminder.

  7. Beck
    May 12, 2009 | 3:36 pm

    This is a lovely post. Being able to see through the inevitable poop that DOES come with having anything to do with other people is a blessing.

  8. Hannah
    May 12, 2009 | 3:53 pm

    I love the way you articulate one of life’s many areas of gray. We don’t get to choose our neighbors, really, but we choose the way we interact with them.

  9. Kelly
    May 13, 2009 | 12:07 pm

    Great point.

    We are new to being neighbors. (Our last house was in the country, and before that, we moved too often to get to know anyone around us.) This is a timely reminder that all daily relationships bring with them the rub of annoyance. It’s what we do with it that’s important.

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