I don’t know who told me this was true. But somewhere in my early-30-something brain, I’d convinced myself that dog feces was fertilizer for grass the way animal manure helps farmers. When I walked my German Shepherd, I never picked up dog poop and damn near wanted public park employees to thank me for helping their grass grow. My mother put a stop to that immediately. The one time she walked with me and my dog, she immediately started beelining around to garbage cans trying to find anything to pick up the dog waste. She put up such a fuss over my (illegitimate) gardening techniques that she made me reevaluate the idea.
Turns out I was wrong about dog poop decomposing into grass. In fact, according to Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, “Animal waste contains two main types of pollutants that harm local waters: nutrients and pathogens. When this waste ends up in water bodies, it decomposes, releasing nutrients that cause excessive growth of algae and weeds.” Additionally, nitrogen from dog urine browns the lawn and kills the grass.
No wonder my hometown of Chicago wanted to fine non-compliant dog owners $50 to $100 for not cleaning up after their dogs. Although I realized my gardening idea was dumb, that doesn’t mean other dog owners did. One of the most tedious debates I had when I first bought my condo was the no-pet policy. The condo board’s reason? People don’t clean up after their dogs. Oh, the irony.
In my case, our condo board hadn’t thoroughly read our condo bylaws, which allowed owners to have pets. While tenants were not given a green light to do so, owners could. Once I knew that, the dog boarding gates were open and I spent the next year making disposable income from watching people’s dogs. COVID-19 hit, business slowed and I got a dog of my own. But now I had a new problem—my own dog kept sniffing out and trying to eat dog feces from other dogs along our walks. Never have dog feces litterers been more of a pain in the ass. Karma was smiling at me.