The Asshole Assumption

I live on Albion, near 16th and Mission, and so I find it odd, cute, and ridiculous when people act as if they live in some comfy suburb, expecting their neighbors to behave accordingly. Even when those “neighbors” are homeless crackheads who use our street as a shooting gallery and then bathroom.

Those same people tend to get especially touchy when it comes to dogs. These are the people who find dogs unleashed to be a menace to public safety. Who, when sitting at Dolores Park, feel that their personal space has been violated when a dog wanders onto their blanket. And then there is the cardinal sin of dog ownership: leaving the poop. It could be that you forgot to bring a baggie. It could be that your dog has the runs and his excrement is impossible to pick up. It could also be that you’re a selfish asshole, and this seems to be what most people assume first when it comes to dog owners. Hell, let’s be honest. That seems to be what most people assume first, period.

I’ve stopped trying to predict what kind of doggie behavior will offend Missionites, but there is one steadfast rule that I’ve found always applies: on every street, there is one guy who rabidly defends the bush in front of his house from being peed on.

He lies in wait for you. When he sees you pass by with your dog, he either runs out of his house or leans out of his window to reprimand you for allowing your dog to urinate on a living thing. His living thing. Invariably, his junkyard dog approach to communication makes you feel defensive. It puts you on edge. You respond, rightfully if unhelpfully, that his bush or whatever is on a public sidewalk.

It could go lots of ways from there, but most likely the interaction will slide into the realm of threats. He’ll call the police, he’ll kick your ass. In one such situation, a guy even threatened to poison my dog if I didn’t leave his bush alone. No doubt he felt that was fair. An eye for an eye. After all, my dog’s urine was poisoning his bush, or so he thought.

Until now, I have been highly disinclined to yield to such ruffians, such cads. Anyone who would treat another person so hatefully, especially without even trying to ask nicely in the first place, did not deserve to get what they wanted.

But now I’m tired. I just want to walk down the street in the morning without worrying if this dude is going to jump out from behind his gate and hassle me. So I dealt with the most recent incarnation of this situation differently, especially since I now have two dogs to shepherd. I muttered my usual, “It’s a public sidewalk,” retort, then went home and drafted a letter in true passive-aggressive style and stuck it on his gate.

Since then, I have walked down the street in peace. Some might say it’s because my letter was so carefully worded. Others might say it’s because I’ve elected to walk down the opposite side of the street from now on.

Who really knows?

And, for your pleasure, dear readers, I give you The Letter:

I’m the girl who walks her dogs past your house in the morning. You have come out yelling at me twice but have not tried the kinder approach so far. If you had come out and asked me nicely, and kindly, to just bypass your bush, I would have agreed. Not because I agree with you but because I believe in neighborliness.

Secondly, please take a moment to imagine how it would feel if you were a young woman walking alone in a dodgy neighborhood and all of a sudden there are two confrontational guys yelling at you and following you across the street. Do you think this would make you feel amenable to a neighborly compromise? Or would it make you feel physically threatened?

Next time you want to talk to me, how about you try the nicer way? And please be more considerate of my position. I promise it will get better results.

P.S. Imagine how you would want someone to talk to your sister or daughter.

And one last thing. Let it be known that the dogs inspiring such venomous reproach were these:

45 Responses to “The Asshole Assumption”

  1. e says:

    Honestly, its the piss and excrement from PEOPLE that is the issue…. Um, and before anyone starts with “it’s the mission”, it’s not JUST the mission…it’s the near and far frequenters of Dolores Park, and the myriad of bars, who wander down Albion and other streets between DP and Mission street and take a leak at the first tree or wall they see.

  2. Jake says:

    I’ve never had occasion to pee in public, but if you tell me where this bush is, I will try to give it a tinkle next time I walk by. If some dudes hassle me about it, I suppose I could tinkle on them too.

  3. em says:

    maybe if you feel so threatened in our ‘dodgy’ neighborhood you should consider the move to concord?

    and i’m curious what your justification is for letting your dogs pee all over any bush or plant? because from your post it seems your only justification is that it is a big city so you have a right to let your animal piss and shit all over. it is a big city so you have the right to piss and shit all over everyone? maybe the neighborhood would be a little less ‘dodgy’ if we all, starting with mission residents, took a little better care of it?

    i’m not suggesting we all hold hands and sing kumbaya, because i’d probably yell and cuss out my window if someone suggested that. it feels like there are two types of suburban kids that move to the mission. 1) the type that yearn the conveniences, cleanliness and ‘safety’ of walnut creek and 2) the type that pretend their in a big city (come on, it isn’t that big people) and think their anonymity allows them to be total douchebags. both kinds should grow up and learn to live in a city or get the hell out.

  4. C says:

    I could give a crap, pun intended, about the dog waste on the street, especially because pretty much every dog owner I know is considerate enough to carry baggies with them and care for their pets waste.

    I live on 16th and Albion too and, like most, it’s the waste from the junkies and homeless that is a much larger problem. Has anyone walked down Albion past Monk’s Kettle and seen the “Please don’t urinate on our house!” sign on the first house past the flop house on Albion? It’s pathetic.

  5. bornandraised says:

    i’m with em, and while i wholeheartedly believe in trying to prioritize the problems, i also believe that we live COMMUNALLY and need to start respecting one another. dog poop stinks, ergo i dont want to smell it or step in it on my streets.

    i work at an office where poeple sometimes urinate on the bushes below my window. when i can catch them, i am more than happy to pour water over their head. im sorry, but i am not going to smell your piss all day long because you couldn’t find a toilet. and these people aren’t bums. they are tight panted, button down plaid shirt guys on their way to slims and other clubs in soma.

    when i approach a piece of poop on the sidewalk i am not going to say “oh thats a dogs poop, so its ok ,because its a dog and it doesnt know any better.” poop is poop! if i step in it i will be equally pissed. if the girl i am babysitting bends over to touch it as we walk by i will not be less pissed because it came from a dogs butt.

  6. Tad Benton says:

    I’m a little confused.

    Back when I walked dogs, I carried some newspaper bags for picking up the poo. I assume most dog owners do something similar. And, on a side note, this city has far less dog poo around than, oh, the Great Cities of Europe. Etc. The poo front seems OK.

    But I never carried anything for pee. Is there something you can do about pee? Between these bush fellows and commenters like em, it’s being suggested that there is some measure one can take to keep dog pee off of the sidewalk (and its botantical denizens). Is there?

  7. whir says:

    Dogs are dogs and they will pee everywhere, in small amounts, to mark territory. It’s not at all the same thing as when some drunk guy empties his entire bladder in one place. As long as you clean up your dog’s poop (and sorry, but yes you are an asshole if you don’t curb your dog) a little dog pee is not going to hurt anyone, nor even be noticeable for the most part.

  8. Loula says:

    I try and make discerning choices about where my dog pees since we walk the same route repeatedly and I know the neighbors are keeping an eye out. If a a bush or tree looks like it’s on its own, I’ll let the dog pee there. Given her druthers my dog will go back to the same bush or tree day after day which can be a little harsh on the plant, so I try and get her to pick new bushes (weird eh?). If it looks like some care and loving went into a patch of land I’ll steer her away completely and I always, always pick up the poop.

    As for human poop, if a person’s got to go, a person’s got to go, especially if there are no public restrooms in the area. Same rule applies above to my public urination. I try and pee between parked cars.

  9. em, are you perhaps the neighbor I wrote the letter to? I only ask because you use the same junkyard dog approach to communication.

    • egroeg says:

      Tomi Clark- you are a nut!! did you ever think its your fault that this is going on? Every day you should hold your dog near your front door until he takes a pee near your front door or yard. The stink will start to build and then you can enjoy your dogs stink every time you walk out of the house. your a rude woman with a small mind because its because of you that the guys had to catch you letting the dog go and they yelled twice I assume because you were seen twice. DUDE, let the dog piss at your front yard- and enjoy! FYI- I live in MD and dog pee is nasty

  10. Judge Crater says:

    Actualy if “you forgot to bring a baggie.” or “your dog has the runs and his excrement is impossible to pick up” you are a selfish asshole if you don’t take steps to aliviate the situation.

    Most dog owners are very responsible and I really do like dogs. But I’m not happy cleaning up dog shit on the sidewalk in front of our house every day. Peeing on my trees? That I don’t care about. They’re street trees. I do have to wash down the sidewalks and basins regularly though to keep the urine stench out of my house.

    BTW it is illegal to run your dog off lease except in a designated off-leash area. So you are “violating their personal space when a dog wanders onto their blanket.” You really are violating their personal space by anytime you have an off-lease dog outside of a legal off-leash area. You might not like that law, but it is the law. They have a legal right to that space and you do not.

    A further thought. There are a number of people who are quit fearful of dogs. Esp. people from other cultures who have negative experiences with stray or ferral animals. And some people just have a phobia, as with heights or water etc. So just because you don’t see any threat from your dog, you can’t assume that another person doesn’t feel threatend or panicked by your amimal. (I don’t share this phobia. I like dogs.)

  11. Josh says:

    Word, bornandraised, em and Judge Crater. Let’s not take it all so personally, but for real: owning a dog is a responsibility… and if it’s your dog it’s your responsibility. Yeah, curbing your dog is not gonna stop human shit from appearing on the sidewalk, but there will be less shit on the sidewalk! who thinks that’s a bad thing?

  12. How did this become a debate on whether or not dog owners should pick up shit? I never once said anyone should ignore this particular rule. And as other commenters have said, most people are responsible enough to pick up their dog’s poo.

    I do however feel that yelling at someone to try to get what you want is not effective and should especially not be used as a FIRST resort. We have to remember that even though this is an issue concerning animals, it is human beings we are dealing with, and we should use reason.

  13. bornandraised says:

    (You talked about poop in paragraph 2, and referenced the people who don’t like the poop as “touchy”)

  14. Jonz says:

    were you going to Al’s COmics or that Groovy record store?

  15. chalkman says:

    I live next to Dolores Park, and I’d really prefer people not have their dogs piss on my FRAKKING FRONT STEPS! All it takes is one, then every dog has to go for it. My standard response if I see it is to ask “What’s your address, so I can go piss on your house!”

  16. Charles Nibbly says:

    TLC: I hear ya on the ‘why can’t people be nice’ thing when they’re engaging you.

    It sucks, you feel attacked by their tone and your right with their less than neighborly vibe to it. There is a better way… However, I’m guessing for the average person who’s repeatedly dealing w/ a social problem like this, the moment they finally give in to say something it’s the last straw for them.

    Best thing I can advise is to take the high road: kill em w/ kindness, stop and talk to them. Apologize. Introduce yourself. Talk for not 2, but 5 or 10 minutes with them. Granted it takes time and effort, but the results should be favorable all around. Whatcha think?

    Now, I’m a dog lover and former owner. I’m a lover and resident of the Mission.

    Dogs off leash are not only illegal, they’re a message to irresponsible owners that “it’s okay”. For example, the punk w/ the pit bull off leash sees others and will likely feel more justified. Leash laws are good stuff, really. They’re not an attack on someone’s dog, they’re a measure to protect people and other animals from, well, animals.

    And. Dogs repeatedly pissing on some plants, namely green strips w/ flowers found along some of our sidewalks, do in fact kill the plants. Not cool. Curb your dog, physically to the curb to piss. Ain’t hard to do when they’re on a leash… a little tug and a ‘c’mon’.


  17. maggie may says:

    Hi, We have a tree planted in front of our home, on the public sidewalk, by Friends of the Urban Forest. We are responsible for watering and caring for the treee. As noted by one commenter, pee can be hard on a young or new tree and while our treee may look tall, it is young. If every dog that went by used this small square as it’s toilet, our tree would have a very hard time. Usually people steer their dogs away from this tree (and the rest of our garden which is adjacent to the sidewalk….

  18. Al Pastor says:

    Must remember to be proactive in ALWAYS AVOIDING THIS BLOG. Jesus Christ.

  19. SFDoggy says:

    Umm, I think you are the one who needs an attitude adjustment. Apparently you feel it is alright if your dog (which should by law be on a leash) romps all over people’s blankets. While I sure your precious ball off fluff is completely harmless, there is no way the people on the blanket would know that. Many people have a not unreasonable fear of being attacked by a stray dog, or are allegeric to dogs or just don’t like dogs (somehting that many dog owners seem to be unable to comprehend).
    It seems to me that you are the type of self-centered dog owner that gives the rest of us a bad name. You are solely focused on your needs and the needs of your precious dog and feel that everyone should just make way for you. Please grow up, obey the leash law and respect your neighbors (even if they are rude).

  20. nomnomn says:

    I love love dogs but they have no place off leash on a bike path, no matter how well behaved. I see this too much in the panhandle and it’s really frighting when you’re trying to pass an unfamiliar animal (most dogs love to chase and jump on moving things!). There’s not much space to yield on that Duboce path, and it would be terrifying to get past you all.

    While I’m at it, bikes go on the bike path or road, not the sidewalk.

    You might want to think about how other people feel about *your* use of space…

  21. mattymatt says:

    I don’t follow the thought process of the “dogs shouldn’t pee in public” argument. Where should they pee? They’re going to have to do it somewhere.

    I guess owners could carry some bottled water to kind of wash down the sidewalk, thus diluting the smell somewhat. Would that work?

  22. Lynae says:

    I hate to say it, but…when you live in an area where all the houses butt up against the street, shouldn’t you expect this kind of thing? I mean, not poop–that’s just wrong–but urine. If you lived in the suburbs people’s dogs would pee on your place just as much–you just wouldn’t NOTICE.

    And I’m sorry, but this is not just a Mission problem. This is a problem in THE WHOLE CITY. I used to live in the heart of Pacific Heights and when it rained, the whole neighborhood smelled like piss. And not DOG piss either.

    I can totally understand people not wanting the front of their house to look/smell like crap, and I can understand people being mad at irresponsible dog owners. I live at 24th & Harrison and my former neighbors used to let their dogs shit all over our yard, and in the downstairs hallway, and never cleaned it up. The current dog-owning neighbor is a little better, but our stairs are always covered with dog hair. I sweep the stairs 2 times a month and it’s a BIG project every time. And then of course there’s all the garbage people leave on the sidewalk…and the drunk asshole puke my fiance cleaned up a few weeks ago…

    I just think that complaining about dog urine, which can’t exactly be cleaned up by the dog owner (no matter how responsible they are) is a little extreme. Even if they try to stop their dogs, they couldn’t every single time–the instinct for dogs is too powerful.

  23. bornandraised says:

    “Even if they try to stop their dogs, they couldn’t every single time–the instinct for dogs is too powerful.”

    honestly, i almost took this and agreed, yet I have so many friends whose dogs will hold it in until they get their owners’ attention to open the back door and let them out to pee/poop. at least two of the dogs I know have also been trained not to go on certain flora and fauna in the back yards.

    But they are probably anomalies…

  24. MJ from Philly says:

    The best part is that this post starts off poo-pooing (so to speak) those god awful “suburban values” people, then goes on to bemoan “why isn’t everyone nicer to me and my dog?” Ms. Pot, please meet Mr. Kettle.

  25. Oznog says:

    I love how the heart of this post is that people should try a less aggressive, less assuming, and kinder approach to their interactions, be they about dogs pissing or anything else. Then the comments section turns into a lost of assumptive comments that essentially say “no, YOU’RE an asshole”.

  26. merkoneus says:

    don’t be mean to Concord…

  27. Claud R says:

    Most dog owners are courteous and responsible people. But any dog excrement on the street is the result of a dog owner who didn’t clean it up. The why of it, short of “I got a call that my spouse is in the ER”, doesn’t matter. I read your post yesterday, and had quibbles, but didn’t feel impelled to post ‘em. Then, this afternoon, through a series of misadventures (, I got coated in the dogshit that some dog’s owner left on the sidewalk. Not happy. Not happy at all.

  28. highmay says:

    We have better things to do, but I don’t give a shit about their dogs lack of leases. Put the leases on the owners and pull them off the sidewalk on their bikes.

  29. texx says:

    Hmmm…I actually hate it when people ride their bikes on the sidewalk. It would be especially annoying (and dangerous) with two dogs in tow.

  30. H says:

    I don’t agree with yelling, threatening etc. I do live in a house where dogs pee and poo in the flowers I planted in the tree bed on the public side walk. I know how it is to step in, smell, and pick up after someone’s pet. If you have a dog please be responsible to not make cleaning up after it another persons chore. It is a public street therefore we should all try and keep it “clean”. Public streets don’t equal your dogs personal poo place. If you forget a baggy then go home and get one and come back and pick it up. If it is runny come back with a squirt bottle. Please take care of cleaning the mess yourself. Ultimately the mess needs to be cleaned up and the person who should do the cleaning is the dogs owner.

  31. maleman says:

    Please come off your high horse. Your dogs may be beloved members of your family, but everyone else has a right to treat them as a nuisance when you run them off leash and also has a right to be discourteous to you for disobeying the law in a way that inconveniences them and infringes on your rights.

    It is only a matter of time before your off leash dog approaches someone in a manner they deem threatening. And when that person stomps your dog and then sues you for negligence, you will understand why everyone has been rude to you.

    Get over yourself Queeny. You wanna live in the Big City? Live by the rules and get used to people yelling at you when you don’t. And please. PLEASE. Stop being such an entitled whiny little bitch.

  32. Slc punk says:

    Oh come the fuck on. It’s nature. Like a bird shitting on your car.
    I just had some cunt down the street get all belligerent when my dog was only sniffing near her yard, actually she got excited when she saw people get out of a car. (She’s social) Then she starts to struggle to meet them across the lawn; then the cunt goes, “HEY! Get your dog off my lawn, I don’t want poop on it!”

    Tough shit. Get over it. Stop getting so mad over insignificant things such as doggie doo-doo. Am I the only one in this world who discredits the issue of dog shit ?

    Get over it.

    • Lisa says:

      No, actually I agree with you. I never fret over dogs hovering over my lawn or doing their business. It is indeed mother nature. Actually if a human were to pop the squat on my lawn, I’d laugh, take a picture, and post it on the internet.

  33. Joe says:

    It is common courtesy to carry a bag and to pick up after your dog. But, lately…I’ve relaxed on that issue. Big deal, get over it.

  34. Elephunk says:

    LOL. I’d pop a squat.

  35. Marylin. says:

    Omg. Get the hell over it. Just some poop. Big deal.
    I hate peoplel ike that.

  36. Belgand says:

    Unleashed dogs aren’t a threat to public safety, but the dog’s own safety. Even the most well-trained dog is still very capable of running off into the street and getting hit by a car or otherwise wandering into a dangerous situation. Keep your dog on a leash because you show consideration for others (e.g. that time a neighbor’s dog wandered into the convenience store and he had trouble talking him out from behind the deli counter) as well as for your dog.

  37. zap says:

    Another ass hole, self righteous dog owner! If your dog were to shit on my property , i would kick your ass, kill your dog and put its head on a pole! Please let your dog shit on my property and give me some shit about it! I dare you!