I admit it: when I first owned a home in Seattle, before I got a dog, it bothered me when people let their dogs do their business in my yard.

At first the vexation was justified. When I bought the house, it had been vacant for awhile. Some dog walkers on their way to the park across the street allowed their dogs to poop on the lawn, but did not pick it up. As a result, the yard was full of dog feces, and it took many months to clean it. Even after that, I continued to find fresh dog poop on the grass from time to time.

One weekday morning soon after buying the house, I was up on the ladder cleaning the high windows above the front door. It was a typical gray and rainy Seattle October morning. A man walked by in a jacket zipped up to his nose and a hat pulled down to his eyes. He walked a large dog. He let the leash out a tad, remaining on the sidewalk as the dog entered my front yard and took a huge dump. The man looked this way and that, walked into the yard himself, picked up a leaf, placed it on top of the turds, and tapped the leaf lightly with his foot. Then he and his dog turned left, which meant they would soon be passing my sliding door off the dining room.

I scrambled down from the ladder and ran to the sliding door, opening it quickly. Me: “Good morning!” Man (mumbling): “Good morning.” Me: “It sure is a wet one this morning, huh?” Man: “Um, yeah.”

Me: “Did your dog just shit in my yard?” Man: “Um, no.” Me: “Uh, yeah he did – I saw it.” Man: “I cleaned it up.” Me: “No you didn’t! You put a leaf on it!” Man: “I am out of bags.” Me: “Well, what do you know – this is your lucky day! I have some bags. Wait just a moment.”

I gave the man a bag, and he cleaned up his dog’s mess.

As the years rolled on, it still bothered me when someone let his or her dog onto my lawn to do its business. On the other side of the sidewalk was a large, grassy parking strip which would have worked nicely, and it would have felt less invasive.

The grass itself was not the issue. In the spring in Seattle, lawns are lush and green. By the warmer summer months, they are brown. Seattleites do not water their lawns, and therefore there is no peer pressure to keep up with the Joneses. If a dog peed on my lawn I wasn’t concerned about yellow spots; it just felt rude to use the front lawn instead of the parking strip. But, as long as the poop was bagged and removed, I didn’t complain about it; I did not want to be one of those grass-obsessed insane people.

Then, Olive came into my life. I did my best to direct her to parking strips on our walks, but sometimes she pooped and peed in yards. I of course picked up the poop, but there was nothing I could really do about the pee. Just in case a neighbor might be concerned about yellow spots, I researched a supplement for dogs which will not turn grass yellow if a dog urinates on it. Then I thought better of it, not wanting to give Olive a pill for something as trifling as that.

Now, I am a part of the RV world, where dogs abound, but their elimination needs are treated like crimes. Every RV park seems to have a “dog run,” which I assumed at first was an off-leash area. In some parks it is, but not in all parks. But one thing is certain: leashed or unleashed, the “dog run” is where your dog is expected to “go.”

RV dog runs are pretty depressing places. There is rarely grass. Some are covered entirely in gravel. When it’s raining, expect mud. Olive hates them. So many competing smells are an overload for her. And, she will not do her business on gravel.

Here at Outdoor Resorts Palm Springs, there is also the issue of the dog run being some distance away from my rig. By the time Olive and I could walk to the dog run, she would already be finished!

But ORPS makes it clear that dogs are not welcome to eliminate anywhere other than the dog run. Stenciled to curbs and erected on signs throughout the park is the phrase, “This is not a dog run.” I find the phrase cranky and condescending.


I do my best to get Olive to go on the small grassy areas on either side of my RV. If that is not successful, I allow her on grass only in the “common areas” maintained by the park, or to be honest, at an empty campsite. Some owners have posted signs, and I obviously avoid them entirely.


We have it better here at ORPS than next door at Desert Shadows. Nellie’s prior owners stopped by for a visit recently and filled me in on the policies there. Dogs are allowed to walk only at their own campsite or at the dog run. Their feet may not touch the ground anywhere else in the park. This means dogs cannot be walked, even on a leash, around the park. Owners carry them in backpacks and baskets and purses, drive them in golf carts, and even push them in strollers around the park. As Tom put it, “All the dogs are handicapped.”

How fucking sad is that?

It sounds to me like the residents of Desert Shadows are the “get off my lawn,” “this ball is mine now,” old coots and codgers with tiny pebbles for hearts. I also wonder, why is everyone watering lawns, in the desert, in a state in one of the worst droughts in recorded history? Even public fountains are dry, but grass grows green at the RV parks.


When did our priorities get so screwed up?