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Bags of my dog's poop are being left on my front stoop. What should I do?

The question

I live in the main-floor apartment of a house in Toronto with my eight-year-old daughter and small, exceptionally well-behaved dog. I take the dog for a long run in the park daily, and otherwise tie her to an extendable lead that allows her to roam the front garden. The landlord's son lives in the second-floor apartment with his girlfriend. Every now and then, I arrive home to a baggie of doggie poop sitting on my front stoop. There is no note with it, but all signs point to the son's girlfriend upstairs. She is the only gardener in the house, and the poop is covered in leaves and organic debris, so it must have been dug up from some hidden spot in the yard, because I do scoop whatever I see. I'm getting pretty peeved with the bags of poop left on my step. It feels very hostile. The woman has never said hello to me. She pretends not to see me when she comes and goes. I feel like knocking on a door with a baggie and saying, "Really? Are you serious?" I know this probably isn't the best way to handle it, but I've been trying the "ignore it and take the high road" technique for several months now. Am I being unreasonable?

The answer

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Hey, count your blessings: At least the landlady's son's girlfriend doesn't set the baggies on fire, so you have to put them out by stomping on them.

I kid. I jest. The above remark is for entertainment purposes only.

Boy, have we been getting a lot of canine-themed questions lately, here at the bunker-like headquarters of Damage Control International. I just hope I can muster up some scintilla or soupçon of the "objectivity" required to give good advice.

Because you're sort of asking on the wrong day.

I live in a three-kid, two-career, single-dog household, and lately have started to feel fed up with all dog-related matters and dog-related … matter.

I've started to feel, along with Seinfeld's Newman (a postie, remember) that they're "vile, useless beasts" that have "no business living amongst us" and the reason everyone talks about dog years being seven in human years is that's how long every year feels when you have a dog. (By the way, having lived on a farm, I know how totally useful and even critical they are in a rural context, and for stuff like hunting, and in the city, well, if our alarm fails to go off in a fire and the dog saves all our lives, I take it all back.)

Don't get me wrong, I love my dog, Murphy. He sleeps with us, he's part of the family, he's a lovely, soulful dog. But today, as I write this, despite getting three walks daily, he, at the age of 7 (49 in human years!), left a stinking "offering" in the basement – causing my wife to stomp around in a bad mood and me to think: "Do we really need the extra level of aggravation and excrement in our already busy lives?"

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I love my dog; I'm just sick to my bones of being a dog owner.

Thanks for letting me get that out of my system. Now to your question. I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I have to go with the landlady's son's girlfriend on this one: She has a right to a doo-doo-free existence, and it's your responsibility not only to scoop what you see but also to ferret out all droppings issuing from your dog's derriere in a timely if not instantaneous (i.e. while it's still steaming) fashion.

I mean, obviously your landlady's son's girlfriend could be less passive-aggressive about it. And I suppose you could talk to her in a non-confrontational fashion about it, say something to the effect of: "Are you leaving these bags on my stoop, and if so can we discuss?" Maybe you can negotiate some sort of tit-for-tat arrangement whereby you do a bit of gardening for her or perform some other similar service in return for her trouble. (Do not make any sort of comment on how your dog's offerings are "fertilizer," or she may come after you with her pruning shears.)

But to be honest, I wouldn't. From what you've said, I don't see that ending well. There seems to be quite a bit of simmering friction and unexpressed hostility, and I don't think you want to "unleash" it – you could wind up without an apartment. All the landlady would have to say is, "My other son wants to live in your place" and boom, you're flipping through the paper, looking for a fresh rental.

I think you're better off rethinking your one-walk-a-day, leave-dog-on-leash-in-front-yard approach to canine daycare. As I see it your options are: 1) be a more assiduous, aggressive "completist" about scooping after your dog; 2) leave the dog inside and either hire a walker or take your dog for more walks yourself; or 3) (best) move to a farm where the dog can gambol freely and never needs to be walked.

All a pain, I know. It's the pain of dog ownership, the pain of responsibility, and there really are no shortcuts that I know of.

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The good news is your eight-year-old daughter will be able to take up some of the slack in three or four years – or 21 to 28 dog years. Hopefully, it won't wind up seeming like that long to you.

What am I supposed to do now?

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