—Pooped Out at Dog Park
A: Well, Pooped Out, thanks for your query. The Dog Parkist is so glad to be back after a month-long break! And she missed you all so very much. After all, what's an advice columnist to do without her fellow humans and their many, many problems? She just sits around and tells herself what to do. She tries to tell the dogs, too, but they don't listen. They are too busy creating budget-crashing medical problems, poor things. But enough about elle!
Pooped, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but in every aspect of life you will inevitably encounter a person like the one you describe. You or I would call her a Scold. It's an ugly word, one usually associated with women more than men, but that is the way of the world. The thing to remember, however, is that the woman herself would be mortified to know that's how others see her. In her own mind, she is a Crusader. Like Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and those annoying Supertwins, she believes that she is on the side of freedom, justice, and personal responsibility. Every day, she fights the forces of ignorance, disdain, and indifference. As a result, her vision is a little impaired. She cannot tell the difference between someone, such as yourself, who is merely not paying attention, with someone who merely does not give a shit. Or more precisely, does not care who steps in his or her dog's shit. It's fertilizer after all, and there are no garbage cans at this park that is not a dog park. (See City Code for more details.) As a result, my dear, of course you feel insulted and dismayed when this woman, a regular patron just as much as you are, calls you out like the lout she mistakes you for. Ouch.
Here is the Dog Parkist's advice. First, model correct and admirable behavior by saying thank you in a polite voice and then stepping off the trail to attend to your dog's leavings. Linger a moment and allow her to pass. Perhaps offer a compliment to her own dogs. How lovely and well behaved they are, or how cute. Take your time to tie an elaborate knot in the bag. Then, tail her. Walk just far enough behind her so that you can keep an eye on her dogs while she in engrossed in conversation or by the liberal news organization she is listening to on her digital recording device. And when her own dogs do their business unattended, nail her. Call out her infraction of city code in the most forceful and cheerful voice you can muster. Smile sweetly as she offers her excuses and lingers to scoop and tie an elaborate knot in her bag. Then take the next divergent path, lest the cycle of poop-snooping continue ad infinitum.
Remember, your local Dog Park Scold has a purpose in life, and it is a good one. Every pile of doo she forces someone to scoop is one that does not end up in our water supply. Could she be more discriminating about her scolding? Of course! But take advantage of her thick skin and forceful personality. Point her in the direction of all the newbies at the Park. She may teach them a lesson or two. She may also make them feel so unwelcome that they don't return—a gift that keeps on giving. Thanks for writing!
Dear Readers: The Dog Parkist knows that the weather is lovely and that everyone is happily running around outside making the most of the few daylight hours we have left. Still, at some point you need to sit down at your computer and compose Herself a letter with a question, a query, an outrage, a remark. The Dog Parkist gives every missive her complete attention. Ta!