By Brian Burton, Alexandria
If someone unfamiliar with Alexandria read Isabel Alvarez’s September 4 pet column (“Can’t homeowners and dog-walkers just get along?”), he or she would come away with the impression that our city is full of crotchety, dog-hating killjoys who have nothing better to do than lie in wait for a beleaguered minority of oppressed dog-owners who just want to find a spot in which their poor innocent pooches can answer nature’s call.
Anyone who knows anything about Alexandria knows this to be false, but the victim mentality on display in Alvarez’s column is troubling. If homeowners and dog-walkers are to get along, dog-walkers must do their part to recognize the legitimate concerns of homeowners.
I, like many Alexandrians, spend a significant amount of time and effort maintaining my front yard, which contributes to the welcoming vibe of the neighborhood that Alvarez wants to see. I do not have any “award-winning tomatoes” or other exotic flora in my front yard, just a modest lawn. A couple of months ago, I noticed a couple of plate-sized patches of grass going brown even as the rest of the lawn continued to grow.
One evening I returned home to discover the reason: a dog relieving itself on my lawn while out for a walk. Respect for the homeowner’s work to seed, weed, water and otherwise care for the lawn evidently was not a consideration for the dog-walker, who nonchalantly walked away as I approached.
That front yard is part of my property. It is part of my home and a major investment. It’s not a dog park.
I have a right to expect dog-walkers to demonstrate some consideration, such as by not letting their pets pee in that spot, particularly when it’s clearly causing harm to the lawn. Also, if homeowners want to plant tomatoes or flowers or anything else near the sidewalk to beautify their front lawn that is their right. It is incumbent on dog-walkers to show a little respect by not allowing their pets to use other people’s property as a bathroom.
Alexandria is a great place for dogs and a great place for homeowners. For the most part everyone does get along. The responsibility for keeping it that way falls at least as much on dog-walkers as homeowners.