That Miserable Stranger and My Dog

An open letter to the snobby and judgmental woman at the gym this morning: I was outside in the public…

An open letter to the snobby and judgmental woman at the gym this morning:

I was outside in the public space for our apartment building, minding my own business. I brought my dog with me because we just returned from a 30-minute walk, and I wanted to get some of my push-ups and squats in while he ran around off the leash. You know, a little treat for being such a good pup on our morning walk. Unlike EVERY person we have run into in our building, who just adores Ryan and his cute face, you saw him squat for a three second pee (literally, three seconds) and you came rushing outside, fingers pointing in my face, hands in the air:

“You’re going to let your dog pee on the turf?! That’s disgusting! Kids play there.”

Your voice was loud, sharp, and angry.

Shocked at your abrasiveness for 7:45 in the morning, I stared at you in disbelief. And finally said, “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. That’s disgusting. How could you let your dog pee on the turf?”

Your hands were on your hips, and your face stern. I felt like I was 5 years old, being scolded by my mother.

“I was unaware that he had to pee again, seeing as we just came back from a 30-minute walk where he did all of his business multiple times.”

“Oh, you know that’s not true,” you said, with your fingers pointing right in my face. “You brought your poop bags with you. You know what you are doing. That’s disgusting,” you said as you disappeared behind the safety of the glass gym doors.

Actually, lady, on our way back in the front door as we came in from the walk, I grabbed a few bags from the poop station out front because we were running low and I wanted to have a few on hand. I took them out of my pocket and placed them on the deck with my phone and keys so they didn’t fall out while I was doing said squats and push-ups. So no, I didn’t bring the poop bags so he could poop on the turf.

What you don’t know about my morning is that I woke up in a pit of anxiety, for no decent reason. Instead of allowing myself to lie in bed and sink further into that rabbit hole, I forced myself to strap on my sneakers and take Ryan for a walk. Walking Ryan isn’t my favorite thing to do – he’s a puppy. He is all over the place, zigzagging right then left. You have no idea, which way he is going to go. And the arm work out – he pulls on that leash like none other. But on that walk, we ran into a family of geese. Ryan sat patiently while we let them cross our path, and then walked with me to stand in the street to allow them to cross, again, patiently – which, I might add, is a small feat for this rambunctious pup.

By the time we got to the outdoor space this morning, I felt I had climbed my way out of my hole. I felt good, like I could get through my day, and I could breathe. And then you came along. Your abrasiveness, your judgment, the way you speak to complete strangers with absolute disregard for who they are as a person. It was a kick to the gut and a slap in the face. You made me feel foolish for even thinking that I could make it through my day, silly for even trying. Hot tears pierce my cheeks and pool at the base of my keyboard as I write this. And that makes me feel even more foolish and silly. How could I let someone so rude get under my skin?

I understand that my dog peeing on the turf is quite unsanitary. I don’t take him out there to relieve himself. I do what a good dog owner is to do – I take him on a walk to let him do his business. I also know that it will rain this afternoon, like it does every day in this area, and it will wash away the remnants. You should know that his training pad in our house is a piece of turf – you can understand how he could be confused.

I also cannot control what an animal does, just like I cannot control what other humans do. Instead, I can only control myself and how I react. I’m pleased with myself that I didn’t pop you in the face – because that’s what I really wanted to do. Instead, I finished my squats and push-ups – the counting of each set helped me focus on something other than the rage building inside of me – and I went home. Me and pup.

I am going to do my best to not let you ruin what was already a tough day for me. I am going to do what I can to salvage that safe space I had created for myself on the walk this morning. And I am going to send good vibes out into the world in your direction. Perhaps you need a little extra love this morning. At the very least, perhaps my well wishes will help you to find a little compassion and patience for people around you. And maybe tomorrow, you can find a kinder, gentler way to speak to strangers.


Lady with the errant dog


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  1. Ridiculous! I once had a man demand I “clean up” my dog’s pee when he went in the grass. Lmao at these people.

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