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Monday question: Dogs v. flowers

Posted by Robin Abrahams  September 27, 2010 05:27 AM

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Today's question is one that many of us in urban areas have lived through, on one end of the leash or the other. Please note when you read this that the LW is looking for a solution, not a "who's right" holy war.

I find myself constantly at war with the neighborhood dogs. My husband built me a beautiful flower box in the front of the house, which dogs and dog owners see as some sort of an invitation to poop and pee in. I spend money on the flowers, only to have them trampled and withered in no time.

Just this morning, I had words with a dog walker. AS I WAS OUT FRONT WATERING, some he let his dog go into my flower box and do his business. I was about a second away from spraying them both with water, but I held back. I did however, blurt out "Are you kidding me? Get your dog out of my flowers and don't let him in it again". He shot me a look of death and said "There are hardly any flowers in it". I thought to myself, "No ____ Sherlock, because everyone's dogs pee all over them." But actually he just walked away. I am still fuming over it.

I've sprinkled pepper, bought an expensive chemical, tried everything, nothing keeps them out and I'm so tired of it. My question is, do I hang a sign? Or is this going to get me ridiculed and have people let their dogs poop in my flowers box even more? I don't want to be known as the neighborhood lady who hates dogs, because I'm not, I like dogs. I'm just someone who was trying to make my street look nicer by planting some flowers and is tired of dealing with this.

I made this sign, but I'm really not sure if it will work or make things worse. I'm a little afraid that this might be waging war. Sign says:

Dear dog owners, Kindly keep your dogs out of the flower box. DOG URINE KILLS FLOWERS. My summer flowers did not last very long, but I?d like to try again in the fall. Thank you!!! I'd like to hear from dog owners.

Will this work or make things worse?
What do you think, folks? Please keep this civil--I'm going to be aggressive about modding for verbal abusiveness on either side. The LW here is a solution-oriented person who likes dogs and flowers. Please respond in that spirit.

Aside from that, though, let it rip. Where's Markus been lately?

I will do my best to post my reply on Friday, but because the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, which my husband produces, is this Thursday, I can't necessarily guarantee that. Thanks for your patience!
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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