The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Today on a morning walk I spied a neighbor walking her dog.  She actually lives in a different development, but none-the-less I call her a neighbor.  Her dog proceeded to urinate and defecate on several lawns.  As we approached our house, there she was and there the dog was again doing his business on my lawn and flowers.  My gut said would you say something.  So I did.

Me:  “Please don’t let your dog on my lawn.”

Neighbor:  “Which lawn is yours?”

Me:  (Somewhat befuddled) “The one you are on.”

OK the lawn is not really my concern.  Ours is brown and lifeless during this drought, and I do not put much effort into the lawn.  It is the principle here.  Here is what I wanted to say:

Me:  “Hey if you want your dog to use a lawn as a toilet, use your own.  You are trespassing, and destroying private property (I know that maybe it’s a stretch).”


Why didn’t I.  I don’t think she would have gotten the idea.  I had to draw the boundaries for her.  And there in lies the problem.  When did it become OK for people to just dowhat they want, and not accept the consequences.  I never have let any dog I owned wander knowingly onto someone else’s property to do their business.

Recently we had local news stories about senior pranks.  During the final days of high school for those that are graduating, they apparently think of wonderful pranks they can do to leave their mark.  Some even post it on FB and administrators at the schools can intercept them.  Others get by them.  One incident was a silly string free-for-all.  They were spraying silly string at each other and a mob ensued.  As staff tried to break it up, the students refused to move and the of course the problem grew.  The students were suspended and not allowed to go to graduation.  Many students and parents felt this excessive.  Hello people, it is called insubordination and could get you arrested or fired in the “real” world.

Another more serious incident was the cutting down of several smaller trees outside another high school.  Reaction:  No big deal.  No harm done. Really!  Yes harm done by many thousands of dollars.  Not your property and trees.  They are still searching for these students so they can be arrested.  A colleague suggested the students should have to dig the holes to replace similar sized trees.

Same high school…food fight.  Again what is the big deal.  Lots of fun that is shown as funny and OK in film and TV.  Really!  Many students and staff were injured in falls or by being hit in the head with objects.  Students suspended and not allowed to attend graduation.  Again students thought it excessive…”real” world would dictate being arrested for assault.

I guess my point is that I continue to witness more and more incidents like these and they all boil down to boundaries.  We do not understand when we have stepped across these boundaries.  I don’t even think many kids today know that there are boundaries.  Why?  We can name all the reasons and lay blame….parents, TV, media.  But blame isn’t going to help the problem.  It has to start somewhere whether at school or home, but we have to set the role models for kids and adults.  We have to give media or parental/adult attention to those good role models more than the ones that show, “I can do what I want” or “I am so-and-so and I can do what I want.”

I do not propose to say that I am perfect and do not make mistakes.  But my parents instilled in me those basic principles that they felt we should follow to have a caring society:

  1. Do unto others as you would have someone do unto you
  2. Respect others and do no harm
  3. Apologize and take ownership for your behavior.

As I contemplate these principles, I think about my garden; my patch of earth.  Do I follow these basic principles/boundaries for my garden.  I think I do.  We take care of our property.  We have chosen to not use chemicals unless we have an extreme problem (like an exterminator issue).  I am replacing plants that are thugs in my garden with less invasive plants where I can.  Some natives and non-natives in my garden are invasive so I have educated myself before I plant.  I am amending the soil throughout the season so I can reduce weeds and have a healthier garden.  I accept my mistakes and try to remedy them.  With drainage problems, we created rain gardens.  For ground covers out of control, well I am working on those.  Wrong soil or pH, amend the soil.  And on and on as you can guess all the other mistakes we all make as gardeners as we continue to educate ourselves.

For the garden, the rewards can seem limitless if we accept the the basic principles for good gardening; that we have boundaries to garden within to ensure healthy plants and rich bounty.  In life our possibilities can be limitless too, but again we need to accept that there are principles and boundaries.  My wish is that we can help each other learn these principles to enrich our lives and futures.


Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
~ Robert J. Collier


Special Note: Monthly (usually around the 10th) I guest blog at Walkabout Chronicles.

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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.



  1. Becky says:

    I’m actually looking forward to the storms today. Who would have thought after the rain we have had so far this season. Good for you for speaking up. I wonder if your friend reads your blog. I hope so!

    • Donna says:

      Thx Becky. I am also loving the storms. We lost power and we didn’t care. I hope it pours again this afternoon. No I doubt she reads the blog. I know she won’t let her dog in my yard again. She definitely was embarrassed. Wishing you rain for your wonderful garden.

      • Elephant's Eye says:

        She was sensitive enough to feel embarrassed, after you said something? 10 out of 10 to Donna!

        I’m always wary of ‘landmines’ when I work in the dog accessible part of the garden, beyond the gate.

        • Donna says:

          Thx Diana…I am also wary of the landmines in my garden from the deer especially the meadow…but of course I expect it!!

  2. Donna says:

    Happens all the time in the city. People seem to have no regard. I have said something once to the offenders, but it only made matters worse at first. All I asked was they bring something to pick it up, and needless to say, they were rude back to me. But… they ended up using a doggie bag after a few more neighbors complained, and not so politely I might add.

    • Donna says:

      Donna I bet it does happen all the time. You are right it does make people defensive and rude because they have been told they are wrong. People are embarrassed, but I hope some can reflect and change. I have resorted to spraying my mailbox garden with Deer Out so the obnoxious smell might deter the dogs. My husband is not so kind when he catches them.

  3. Ginny says:

    I think there’s a lack of respect in general in our culture and that makes me sad. Children model the behavior and attitudes of their parents. The political climate doesn’t help. If only all parents and role models lived by those basic principals your parents instilled in you. Those are the same principals that were the foundation for the way my parents lived and the same that I tried to instill in my children. I love that Collier quote.

    • Donna says:

      Ginny, glad you liked the Collier quote. We can only effect change in small steps repeated until the tide of disrespect in our society changes. I get sick of the news, TV and politics because it does perpetuate the problem. Your children will thank you for instilling those principles in them.

  4. Island Threads says:

    Donna I think another title for your post would be Taking Responsiblity, many years ago someone said to me
    “the trouble with most people is they are always taking about their Rights but never their Resposiblities,”
    so true, so true,

    one of the main reasons I moved from the isle of Scalpay was the lack of responsiblity the owners of sheep had, I got fed up not only with the sheep eating my plants but tip toeing through the sheep poo every time I left my house,

    a good thoughtful post, Frances

    • Donna says:

      Frances you are dead on with the title…I think we have forgotten the word responsibility…we need to teach it and instill it or it will be lost….how awful that you had to move. My husband always says, “it really isn’t the dog’s (in your case the sheep’s) fault…it is the owner’s fault for not teaching the dog or the child or the sheep to behave in a better way…”

      • Island Threads says:

        your husband is right it is the owners fault, the sheep and cattle where I now live are in fields behind fences so they have their space and we have ours,
        I’m glad you think the lady dog owner has learnt a lesson and won’t let it happen in your garden again, it would be nice if she remembers to repect all the gardens and public areas and spreads the word to her dog owning friends,
        by the way I love the flowery photos your garden looks beautiful, Frances

        • Donna says:

          Frances I think she will let her dog go on others lawns but not mine…she does not get the lesson…the only she learned was not to get caught. So glad you loved the flowers. They are quickly fading in this heat but not to worry, there will be other flowers coming up soon… 🙂

  5. Carolyn @ Carolyn's ShadeGardens says:

    I agree with you generally but I think dog owners can be particularly oblivious. Parents would never allow their children to do what they allow their dogs to do: lick people, jump on them, deposit their waste randomly, etc. Not sure what that’s all about.

    • Donna says:

      Carolyn that is so true…it makes no sense and so many do not see the difference and that allowing their pets to behave this way is wrong…hmmmm!!

  6. tina says:

    You always have your finger on the pulse of people. At least in my mind. Your take on boundaries is right on. I don’t get it at all. Where I live my neighbors seem to think it is okay to let their dogs roam and attack others. Not a happy situation. I have fenced my yard nearly completely but why should others have to do this? I think you are right when you say things have gone too far. Oftentimes when I tell others how would you like it if I let my dogs roam in your yard they say they don’t care. So boundaries is one issue but also I think apathy about anything seems to be an issue. People hardly care about themselves and their needs let alone others. I think this stems from the day of good and plenty and a throw away society. Such a shame and frustrating. I have a senior this year and I’ve told him NO to any pranks. Whether he gets it or not we shall see. I tell you though I am a bit worried.

    • Donna says:

      Thx Tina. I agree that apathy is part of the problem too. People don’t care. I fear that they have a long fall to learn the lesson that will be coming…karma has a funny way of paying us back. At least with kids we know they are learning still and will make mistakes. We hope we can teach them so they won’t, but you know they will have some hard lessons. The lessons you are instilling in your son will serve him well even if he falters a bit as we all do…

  7. Nell Jean says:

    Good essay. ‘Rights’ seems to have become the right to violate the space and property of others, rather than freedom to do the correct thing.

    • Donna says:

      So true…if we live by the thought of pure right without responsibility how then are we to have a civilized society…I love your statement, “the freedom to do the correct thing’…

  8. The Sage Butterfly says:

    I have experienced the same, Donna, except I have not been as lucky to catch them in the act. I usually find the big blob of **** laying in the flower bed or the lawn. I sprinkle an herbal mix around the front of the beds near the sidewalk to deter the dogs as well. I, too, am often baffled and frustrated at those who do not seem to try to live by the simplest of all rules, The Golden Rule. And this need to be outrageous, rebellious, disrespectful, and garner negative attention by any means possible is the most surprising turn in the last few years. I hope it is a phase… Insightful post!

    • Donna says:

      I agree that this need to be so disrespectful is troubling…unfortunately it is what people are in to so the media plays it up and makes it all the more fashionable…I too hope it is a phase that is gone soon…I am glad you liked the post…

  9. Esther Montgomery says:

    I’m not sure that I’d link the two kinds of bad behaviour. One (the woman) is not thinking, she isn’t using her imagination enough to realise the knock-on effect of what she is allowing her dog to do. With the young people – they are thinking about what they are doing. They are even using their imaginations. They enjoy anticipating people will be upset by what they do – which is part of the fun of doing it . . . as is the breaking of boundaries – it’s only when you know they are there that you can take pleasure in breaking them. The woman maybe just sees the world as a general blur.

    As for our gardens . . . I wouldn’t like to hold mine up for inspection!


    • Donna says:

      Interesting Esther. With the students it has progressed in this country to be much more than breaking boundaries I fear…I know I loved breaking a few without doing much damage when I was young…the woman isn’t aware at all of the boundaries and you are right she sees the world in a general blur. As far as my gardens are concerned, they are a mess of weeds at this point as I work through all the things I am still learning about glad you joined in…I always love to hear your thoughts!

  10. Alistair says:

    Donna, you certainly used self control, just accept that you wont hold back to the same extent if it happens again. Loads of good folk here but it cant be denied bad attitude is rife. The funny thing is, when we were kids the pavements (sidewalks?) were strewn with dog sh– , now its seldom seen due to folks picking up their own dogs mess. Interesting points you make of looking after your property and taking pride in doing so, reminded me of an incident. We have been in this house for twenty six years, neighbour directly across from us had this dilapidated fence, I mean really ugly. A couple of years ago when we were considering moving house I mentioned to him that we may be in quite a nice area but any prospective buyer of our place will take a look at your fence and question who lives there. I try to be diplomatic most of the time, but I did go on about the bloody state of it. Well we didn’t move, the fence did get replaced with one that would meet the standards of anyone. There is a downside, we don’t talk any more and it has left me feeling even less confrontational than I would ever have been.

    • Donna says:

      Alistair how interesting that now people at least pick up more after their dogs. At least we do have that. You are correct that I won’t hold back if she does it again…I know that about myself. It is tricky dealing with neighbors. We try to live in harmony, but after a while you have to mention things that bother you…doing so though can lead to that downside.

  11. igardendaily says:

    Hi Donna, Great post about an issue that obviously many gardeners have had to deal with….irresponsible pet owners! We’ve had our fair share of this problem at different homes and once we get to the point of picking up the offending dog’s poo and returning it on a paper plate or in a plastic bag to the owner’s step, it seems to stop. That may sound extreme but pet owner’s finally catch a clue when you return the disdainful waste to their doorstep. I’ll never understand why pet owner’s don’t realize cleaning up after the bathroom needs of their pets is a part of the care and responsibility. Speaking of responsibility, I agree many parents are not taking enough time to teach and help their kids learn responsibility. It’s a tough job but they (kids) are so much better for it and down the road parents will be so much happier with their children. I could go on and on but better stop! Thanks for the post1

    • Donna says:

      You made me laugh so hard…I love it…I may have to try that next!! So glad you visited and that you liked the post 🙂

  12. Cathy says:

    BRAVO!!! I am totally disgusted with people who do not respect other people’s property!!!

    We have the same kinds of issues here with dogs and joggers.

    Now, our dogs are NEVER in the front yard. They are fenced in the back, and if we go to walks, they are walked out back first to do their business!!!

    But we clean up gallons of dog poop from the front each year.

    The other group that make me nuts are the joggers who stop to pick blueberries and flowers. Now honestly, I don’t have so much of a problem with that, and would have less of a problem if they at least (a.) asked, and (b.) brought clippers!

    One jogger decided she wanted to “pick” a bouquet of peonies. Now, anyone who grows peonies knows that you can’t “pick” them. You have to cut them. She pulled several up by the roots and then, because the dirt that came up with them was muddy, she threw them down in the middle of the driveway. I confronted her and criticized ME because she got mud on her shorts! HELLO!!!!!!

    We are also dealing with a group home two doors away from us that does not allow smoking on its premises. In between us, there is a day care that also does not allow smoking.

    The group home residents come down to smoke in our yard, throw their butts in the beds, and the nicotine has seriously damaged many of our plants. Not only that, they don’t always even bother to extinguish their smoking materials and twice now they have lit our yard on fire!

    I see an across the board lack of respect in so many different areas — people leaves messes in the park, dog waste everywhere, public restrooms that are left filthy and vandalized… all sorts of things. People don’t teach their kids boundaries or respect, and there is such a sense of entitlement!

    I recently went to a funeral and was astounded to see someone wearing shorts and a bare midriff! Hello, can’t you even put a dress on? Or slacks and a shirt that cover your navel? Someone else sat there with headphones on, and the music so loud that people sitting around him could hear it.

    Thanks for taking a stand, both with this “neighbor” and on your blog. And for letting me vent!!!!!

    • Donna says:

      OMG Cathy…first thx for the wonderful comment and I am happy to have readers vent. You have quite the group of folks there. To even think that picking or pulling flowers is OK and the smoking thing…well don’t get me started…you need to go down to the employer and lodge a complaint. I had adult students who did the same thing on private property, and once I found out I took care of it. You are right that we are so lax and do not even do the basic respect like at a funeral. When we politely yet firmly take a stand I think we send a message that we are not accepting this behavior. I remind folks that I asked them respectfully. If we never respectfully confront the behavior, people will never get the message!

      • Cathy says:

        We put our concerns in writing (about the smokers) to the head of the agency and we have set up a meeting with them. Believe me, we are NOT door mats! This is evolving as we speak!

  13. Sheila says:

    thanks, Donna, for making an important connection. How we treat others is how we treat the earth. If we think we are the center of everything and are entitled to do what we want, we end up with a culture of selfishness, greed and violence – and a degraded earth. Appalling that parents, who should be conscious of acting as role models, excuse the antisocial behavior of their teenagers …

    • Donna says:

      Sheila, I have seen it time and time again…I hope we can make a positive impact on society and the earth…both sorely need it!!

  14. b-a-g says:

    I was taught on a course once that one should sandwich negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback. This is easier said than done though at short notice.

    • Donna says:

      You are absolutely correct which is why I try to always say please and use a respectful voice…sometimes though the heat of the moment can carry us away…I try to limit those times…:)

  15. One says:

    I thought this only happens where I live. 🙂 I am glad my next door neighbor told off someone who has been bringing her dog to our area. I told myself that I’ll bring her some newspaper when her dog defecate in front of our house but never got around to do it.

    • Donna says:

      How interesting that this is a world-wide problem…it certainly puts it into perspective though…boundaries and those who don’t understand them are everywhere…it is what we do when we encounter them that counts…we can only keep trying to make positive changes… 🙂

  16. Christine @ The Gardening Blog says:

    I would put up a sign outside my house specially for that woman and her dof saying “Poop free zone”! I think this issue is a question of manners! Its just rude to allow that behaviour of your dog! Here in Cape Town its a law that in MOST public spaces you are not allowed to leave any waste your dogs deposits. You have to pick it up and take it home! At some parks and gardens they even hand you a poopy-bag if you enter with your dog! So the result is that we all (mostly) go out with plastic baggies when we walk our dogs. It’s not really policed very heavily (we have more serious crime issues), but most people do it now – and if you don’t, expect filthy looks and reprimands from the public!

    • Donna says:

      That is nice at least that there is a law where you are and that people take it seriously…my biggest issue is that the dog urine kills the plants and lawn which is even worse…so I would have to add that to the sign…lol !!! 😉

  17. Liane says:

    I have done the same as you before Donna, with the same issue at a previous home. The boldness and disrespect is baffling. I am like you and do not back down at all. When my kids have ben with me they get a little embarrassed and actually they worry someone will retaliate. I am trying to convey to them that you must advocate for what is right and not let people get away with that kind of behavior. If we don’t speak we are saying it is ok and enabling it to continue.

    • Donna says:

      Absolutely and kuddos to you..your children are learning valuable lessons because you are being respectful in your encounters and teaching them how to advocate in a proactive, respectful manner…

      • Liane says:

        Well….I must admit that there have been a small number of times I have “advocated” in not such a respectful manner! One of those times happened to be when I motorist just about ran into Steven on his motorcycle as he passed him going against traffic to do so. i was following behind in my car. When he pulled over into a rest stop, I followed him. needles to say what came out of my mouth was not respectful!!

  18. Masha says:

    I agree :). A neighbor always used to let her dog pee (!) on my rose, and I asked her to stop because I actually like to smell my roses :). She muttered that some people (meaning me) really hate dogs. Point completely missed. It is not the dogs I dislike, but the dog owners…

  19. debsgarden says:

    This is a thought provoking post, and I have enjoyed reading all of the comments! It is sad commentary on modern society that many believe they ‘deserve’ everything, but owe nothing.

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