An Open Letter to the Guy Who Screamed at Me for Letting My Dog Poop on a Church Lawn

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Dear Guy Who Screamed at Me for Letting my Dog Poop on a Church Lawn,

I was just minding my business, walking my 17-week-old puppy, Alfie. Now, Alfie happens to like the front lawn of the church that’s on my block; he considers it his own personal poopy palace. For a few days, I tried to discourage him from going there, and to choose another lawn, but alas — the little guy knows what he wants. He won’t go anywhere else. At any rate, I always clean up after him, promptly and thoroughly, and usher him off the lawn quickly so as though not to linger inappropriately.

But today, you came out of nowhere, storming across the street, screaming and waving your hands. “Excuse me!” Originally I ignored you, because I thought, who would be screaming at me? I’m just minding my business, walking my dog. “EX-SCUUUUUUUSE ME!” you bellowed, waving your arms and walking towards me rapidly. My puppy cowered behind me, frightened (do that to me again in 3 years and see how my much larger, much stronger DOG reacts, pal).

“What?” I asked, while literally in that exact moment picking up doggy doody.

“Why would you do that?! It’s disrespectful!” You screamed.

“Why would I do what? Pick up my dog’s poop?!” I asked incredulously.

“No, why would you let him shit there?! Bring him somewhere else! This is God’s house — you can’t let your dog shit here! Even if you clean it up, it’s disrespectful, have some respect!”

As though approaching a young woman walking her new puppy while waving your hands and screaming in her face is the height of respectability, right?!

“I assure you my puppy can’t differentiate between God’s house or anyone else’s. He poops where he poops. I don’t get to choose.” I said, trying to remain calm and not provoke you (an obviously rude and slightly unstable man) any further. Besides, it was true. I HAD tried to get Alfie to poop elsewhere, but you try explaining nuance to a 4-month-old puppy. The only things they understand are: treats, pooping, playing and sleeping. Beyond that, I’m shit out of luck. Pun intended.

“Well don’t do that! Come on! This is a church! HAVE SOME RESPECT!” You repeated angrily one last time.

And then I delivered my final blow, “I’m pretty sure God knows that dogs poop. And I’m also pretty sure he would forgive my innocent puppy for doing so.”

You seemed blown away by my level of “disrespect” but I could tell I’d won. For now.

I walked away wondering, am I really so bad? Does he have a point? Am I being disrespectful? Alfie’s just a puppy and he’s rather particular about where he poops. Besides, there are tons of animals all over the place here — geese, squirrels, birds, other dogs and cats — shitting on every lawn (and surface) imaginable, not differentiating between churches or schools or houses or parks. It’s a wonder that some alarm doesn’t sound off in their heads; “I musn’t go potty here! God would be angry! It would be much more respectful to go elsewhere, wouldn’t you say?!” The thought is mind-boggling! Plus, judging by the number of dog dookies I’ve seen on that very same church lawn (that nobody bothered to clean up, I might add) I’d say my level of disrespect is at worst mild-to-medium.

Not 15 minutes later, as Alfie and I made our way back home from our walk, I heard your voice again and stopped dead in my tracks. You were standing on your balcony, directly across from and in plain eyesight of that very same church, catcalling a young woman who was walking with a female friend and her two young children.

“Is that your wife?!” You yelled down to her, making an exaggerated gesture towards the other woman she was walking with.

“No, just my friend.” she said uncomfortably, keeping her eyes on the ground.

“You should be MY wife. You Guatemalan?!” You cooed down at her, your voice dripping with condescension. The woman began to shuffle away when you suddenly caught my eye from across the street.

I didn’t say a word, because now I know exactly how you are — controlling, domineering, misogynistic; potentially dangerous. I CAN’T say the words to you because, as a woman navigating the streets alone, I must always put my safety first (thanks to assholes like you). But I know you saw my death stare, and I hope it conveyed the exact thought that was crossing my mind:

Have some respect, man. You’re right in front of God’s house.

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