Here’s what I know about the culprit so far: The person owns a dog, likes to shop and lives in my neighborhood.
Oh, and there’s another thing I know: This neighbor isn’t very neighborly.
For weeks now, someone has been walking a dog, picking up after it and then tossing the bag of goods into my trash cans. If this were to happen once (maybe the bag was really heavy that day), I would understand. But since Christmas, my trash cans have become the daily dog bag collection site. While shoveling the sidewalk this week, I peered into the can to find nine bags – and I only counted what I could see.
The trash cans had not been on the curb for collection, they were in my yard behind the shrubs, which means the culprit had to walk onto my property to make his delivery.
I suppose the person gets credit for actually picking up after the dog and not allowing the pet to make a direct deposit in my yard. But we have a dog and our own bags to manage. If we were willing to deal with twice the number of bags, we’d get a second dog. Besides, one of the trash cans is for grass clippings and leaf mulch; you add some doggie bags into the mix, and come the spring thaw we’ll have a diabolical stew that even the trash collectors won’t touch.
It is time for some sleuthing. Judging from the bags, this person shops at Marshalls and T.J.Maxx, so I’m guessing female. And also, this woman has a very large dog. A few local St. Bernards and German shepherds come to mind.
“Sit in the upstairs window and watch,” my friend said. But people in this neighborhood walk their dogs at all hours. Would someone really have the nerve to walk into my yard with a bag of that in broad daylight? No, I suspect it’s happening before dawn or way after dark, and I’m asleep then.
“Hide in the bushes and jump out at them,” my friend said. That’s not happening either. It’s four-below out there.
Some towns are using DNA to link dogs to their doings, so owners can be prosecuted and (I wish) incarcerated, which doesn’t seem too extreme a punishment. But our town doesn’t do forensics like that. I know because I looked it up on their website (which does say it’s against the law to ditch your dog bags on anyone else.)
So, I put a sign on the mulch can, a sweet little note asking the dog bagger to stop, please. And then I closed the lid and put a heavy brick on it. The next day, I found the sign in the can with a full bag on top of it, proof that the culprit is made of the same stuff that’s inside the bag.
But here’s what would work. A drone. It would lie in wait inside the trash, and when a dog bag lands, the drone will come alive, grab the bag in its claws, and then fly out of the trash can and follow the human to either a.) politely hand it to her or b.) drop it on her head. This is not a crazy idea: Amazon is planning to use drones to deliver packages in pretty much the same way.
For now I’ve moved all the cans as far away from the sidewalk as possible. It’s inconvenient for us, but the goal is to make it less convenient for the dog walker. Really, is it that much trouble to carry the bag home to your own trash? We all have our own crap to deal with.
Beth Dolinar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.