Beth Dolinar

Column Beth Dolinar

Beth Dolinar has been writing her column about life, both hers and the rest of ours, for over 20 years. When not on the page, she produces Emmy-winning documentaries for public television, teaches writing to university students, and enjoys her two growing children.

Thwarting the dog-bag tosser

Dog-bag tosser thwarted

January 30, 2014

Nothing, apparently, can stir up loyal indignation like a jerk with a bag of dog poop. Since the publication of my column last week, in which I complained about the dog walker who saves his doggie bags for my trash and my trash alone, I’ve received a whole pile of emails.

Some people were merely writing to offer their sympathy. The words “jerk” and “creep” figured heavily in those notes. Some people wrote to share their own tales of irresponsible neighborhood dog owners. The one thing worse than a dog owner who fills his neighbor’s trash cans with dog bags is the neighbor who lets his dog wander onto a neighbor’s yard to do his thing, without benefit of a bag at all.

But my problem is aggravating. Since before the holidays, someone in the neighborhood has been tossing full dog bags into my trash cans. This happens when the cans are not on the curb for collection, but in my yard behind the shrubs. Last week, I posted a sweet and gentle (really, I said please) sign on a can asking them to stop. The person sweetly and gently tossed the sign in the trash and topped it with a full bag. The best clue I have so far is that the person has quite a big dog. And no friends.

But I have clever and awesome readers, and a full dozen of you wrote in with a possible solution. There’s something called a trail cam, designed to track the nighttime shenanigans of deer and bunnies and, also, dog bag flingers. Writers suggested I could buy one of these cameras rather inexpensively, mount it high on a tree or pole, and then just sit back and wait for the bag flinger to have his picture taken. A few readers went so far as to suggest I have the photo enlarged into poster size and tack it up all over town. Although that would certainly have the desired effect of curtailing the crapathon, the dog would be shamed along with his owner, and really, the dog has done nothing wrong.

Much as I appreciate all the suggestions, I’m not sure it will be necessary to begin surveillance just yet. Applying the same “out of reach” principles used by mothers of toddlers who grab or eat everything within reach, I moved the trash cans far away from the sidewalk. It’s inconvenient – particularly in this terrible weather – but for now the dog bag deliveries stopped. It would have been fun to watch the dog walker come by, swinging the bag and preparing to ditch it, only to discover the cans are gone and realize, tragically, that he’ll have to carry the bag all the way home.

Now that I think about it, though, does moving my cans away just transfer the problem to the next convenient trash can? By deflecting the bag from my own yard, am I dooming my neighbors to the same fate? Is it my neighborly duty to warn them, and why does the word duty seem funny in this context?

Or should I get the camera and apprehend the culprit? It feels a little drastic right now, but I do appreciate all the reader mail and your tips. You have my back. And if I ever find out who the bag-tosser is, you’ll be the first to know.



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