Corie Skolnick

Communiqués From Geezerville: The Sheriff of Doggie Doo-Doo

"Attention: There is no dog toilet here" (Photo by Daniele D'Andreti on Unsplash)

Corie Skolnick’s first column for her series Communiqués From Geezerville is about what can be accomplished in four years and the advocacy of cleaning up dog poop.


Dear Comrades,

I am rapidly approaching the four-year anniversary of my re-location from beautiful, progressive Portland, Oregon, to the even more beautiful, but nowhere near as progressive, San Diego, California, and I know you want to know how it’s going. [Read from March 2017]

Four years “incarcerated” in a “lovely 55+ community” in North County that houses a disproportionate number of reactionary Republican voters. Yes, I know, it’s unfair to make assumptions about political affiliation, even about affluent, white, geezer ghetto inhabitants, but I know, because I checked the voter rolls. (Yes, you can do that.)

I can hardly believe four years have passed. They flew right by at a truly startling velocity, and this phenomenon of time passing quickly will be confirmed by anyone you know eligible for Medicare, I promise you. Except maybe this past year, which we aren’t going to talk about, okay? Time, or really the perception of it, does accelerate with age. (See Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, unless that’s too science-y for you.)

Still, four years is long enough to do a lot of things. Here are several suggestions according to John Fulton, who is the first source to pop up when you Google, “What can I accomplish in four years?”

For instance, Mr. Fulton tells his 39 followers that it’s entirely possible to get a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in four short years. (This will come in handy if you ever need to beat the crap out of anyone who takes mean-hearted exception to your harmless little jokes about aging.)

You can also, Mr. Fulton claims, acquire a 1400 ELO chess rating. (No, not a tiny bit interested in this—The Queen’s Gambit notwithstanding—even with my IQ points shifting significantly downward the second I acquired my AARP card.)

Likewise, in only four short years you can learn how to “code” almost anything. (I’m informed that “coding” is an activity that is really big among the young and wired. This most certainly means I will suck at it, so also a big fat no.)

But you could also learn how to speak fluent Mandarin with four years of dedicated study. (This will surely be a positive when China takes over. I’d estimate that fully 50% of the residents of Geezerville are counting down the days to Chinese domination thanks to Tucker Carlson. Hellooooo! I can see Fox News on the big screens in your dimly lit living rooms when I stroll the grounds after 9:00 p.m. curfew!)

Finally (if you are anyone but me), you could become a fairly proficient guitar player. (I tried. I failed. That ship has sailed.) (A little self-defeatist poetry for you. Free of charge today only.)

In addition to Mr. Fulton’s shortlist, we all now know too that with the help of a certain Russian president and nefarious inclinations, in only four short years a person could come very close to demolishing western democracy. We don’t talk about this here in Geezerville. The rare few times I’ve seen anyone try to engage in a substantive discussion about politics, it did not go well. Better to stick to the weather and the traffic. (Always great, always awful.) This unwritten code of silence is understood. Nevertheless, I can smell a WOO-anon member a mile coming, even before I see their “BEWARE OF SHAPE-SHIFTING, BLOOD-DRINKING LIZARD PEOPLE!” bumper sticker. Sniffing out the pastel Q ladies is my special gift.

Otherwise, I know someone personally who proved it’s entirely possible to attain a college degree in only four years and, if you have already been there, done that, you could add Ph.D. to your resume in four years’ time. Either one of those will necessitate taking on massive, crippling student debt, and this is unlikely to change thanks to a you-know-which political party.

Or you could finish your third novel. (The one that was catastrophically interrupted by your depressive response to the 2016 election results and was due to your publisher in 2019? Why don’t you finish that before somebody asks for the advance money back, huh?)


Don’t think that I don’t dwell on all of these possibilities. I could have (maybe should have) spent the last four years working on any one of these noble aspirations.


Don’t think that I don’t dwell on all of these possibilities. I could have (maybe should have) spent the last four years working on any one of these noble aspirations. (Except for the chess. Nah-uh.) But did I? Nope. No, I spent four years of my life here in Geezerville doing little more than bitching about that certain political party, tweeting about them obsessively, and doing precious little in the way of actual accomplishment.

Unless you count this: I am the self-appointed Sheriff of Doggie Doo-Doo here in Geezerville.

Pablo, the spouse responsible for my incarceration here, approves of neither my obsession with dog poop, nor the conveyance of my displeasure with the dog-walking community of Geezerville in public forums, and now through this missive. (“The internet never dies,” he says.)

Okay, you’ll pardon me for believing that I just got confirmation from the universe (via Twitter) that this story MUST be told. I know you’ll think it’s odd that the universe has chosen Twitter as its primary communication tool, and maybe grandiose of me to think that it has chosen me for this urgent notification, but, in defense of both selections, I’ll submit that, until recently, Twitter has been the messaging “weapon of choice” for some pretty weighty “Bigs” in planetary politics. (TFG, just to name one.) And just the other day at our HOA zoom meeting, the item at the top of the agenda was: DOG PROBLEM.

Coincidence? Or the universe talking to me?

Let me establish my bona fides, so to speak, in doggie waste removal before I get down to current events. This involves karma in a big way. (Does karma ever do anything small?)

I’m not proud of this, but, once upon a time in another city in another era in another marriage, I was half owner of a Saint Bernard. Let me now say, if you know anyone, or if you yourself lived anywhere in the vicinity of the ivy-surrounded real estate of the Mormon temple in Westwood, California, in the mid-seventies … well … mea culpa … mea maxima culpa. Because that is the exact location of our twice-daily dog walks and, let me tell you, or maybe you can imagine, exactly how much dog poo lies under those perfect ivy leaves—I have to think a vast majority of it donated by a Latter-Day Saint Bernard named Humphrey.

I’m only slightly terrified to Google, “How long does it take for dog feces to decompose?”

In my defense, back in the ’70s, virtually nobody “picked up dog waste,” and those nifty little stations where you could find the other kind of “doggie bags” and the ubiquitous disposal receptacles were not yet a thing, so everybody just let their dogs relieve themselves wherever, and woe be it to the casual stroller who didn’t keep an eye out.

I’m not proud of this, but I actually remember feeling rather righteous that I was careful to only let Humphrey off his lead when we arrived at the Temple grounds where the ivy would conceal the worst he could do. (Fuck the poor gardeners, I guess.) If I ever let H relieve himself on a sidewalk or (god forbid) someone’s private lawn, I’ve successfully suppressed that memory. If you’ve ever had a Saint Bernard take a dump on your perfectly manicured West LA lawn … what is there to say? I hope it helps to know that karma, that dear girl, has come a visiting—forty plus years later—with vengeance.

At first, situated where our house is, right next to the path that leads onto one of the many “lovely hiking trails,” I thought, Cool. At least I have proximity to nature. What I didn’t realize was proximity to nature in Geezerville translates to: “the closest place to take my dog to crap.”

With 204 homes, over half of which house at least one canine requiring at least one daily elimination ritual, you do the math. Some will purport that these walks are for exercise, but everyone really knows that Fido’s out there on that nature trail to defile it. And a scandalous number of dog-walking humans suppose that it’s A-OK to just leave it there, hoping, I suppose, that the coyotes will be scapegoated. We all know better.

Pablo says it is unfair that I blame the Republicans in the neighborhood, but I maintain that if they don’t care a wit about the destruction of democracy, it’s not a big leap to assume they are also irresponsible about cleaning up after their pets.


“Please, for the love of all that is holy, PICK UP YOUR DOG’S CRAP!” I was succinct and direct. Also, I was ignored for the most part.


I was initially a seemingly lone voice on this issue. If you don’t want to trust me, you can resurrect the HOA meeting agenda items from G-ville going all the way back to 2017 and the minutes of almost every subsequent meeting. It was my first gambit to take the mic. (This is something geezers love to do at their HOA meetings. It makes us feel relevant.) Every month, I would plead with the dog owners.

“Please, for the love of all that is holy, PICK UP YOUR DOG’S CRAP!” I was succinct and direct. Also, I was ignored for the most part.

Next, I produced a laminated letter addressed to all dog owners which I boldly posted on the gate leading out to the trail which they couldn’t miss it. (Pablo made me remove it. He wasn’t terribly keen on some of my colorful language and my accusatory tone. I didn’t sign the letter, but he felt certain that everyone would know who was responsible even if the gate wasn’t adjacent to my house, and he thought the lamination was a step too far. Fair enough.)

Most of the community must have looked upon my anti-dog diatribes as eccentric because they themselves were not using the path or the trails, instead opting for the “marvelous, well-equipped gym” and the “top-of-the-line amenities” in “The Club House.” Nevertheless, I persisted. FOR FOUR F-ING YEARS, I persisted.

Okay, to be honest, that’s pretty much all I did. When the pandemic forced us all inside and access to the community’s vaunted amenities were cut off, the only reasonable activity was a walk and that is when others (specifically the non-dog-owning population of G-ville) discovered the prodigious quantities of poo left on the trails. Dog shit was on the HOA Zoom Meeting agenda every month. The budgetary committee was forced to fork over the dough for a dozen of those little shaming signs to post out on the trail: “Did you pick up your dog’s waste?”

I had found my people. And finally, FINALLY, my people are NOT having it!

I know the world has bigger problems than the dog poop wars in Geezerville, and I apologize in advance for caring so much about this issue. And I do know that I’m lucky to have a home when so many don’t and that there are much worse things than living among Republicans or stepping in dog shit. I’m sometimes ashamed to be that petty asshole neighbor who follows you and stares you down until you get out your little bag and bend your old ass over to pick up Rover’s best. I do know that I’m lucky to have survived the pandemic when so many …

Pablo tells me that this manifesto, like most of the pandemic literature he’s read in the last 15 months, is wholly uninteresting. He’s not really a devotee of canine scatology. He thinks I’d be better off with the Mandarin. (He knows better than to suggest that I honor the publishing contract I signed in 2016 that requires a return of the (already spent) advance.) Still, the universe propels me to reveal my pettiness and to air my grievances.

Just this morning, as I peruse the early tweets and keep a simultaneous look-out for errant dogs from my window, this thread catches my attention:

@strangefactoid tweets that a South African man who rescued and then adopted a baby hippo from a river has since, six years later, been dragged into the very same river and eaten by his “pet.” (WTF?)

To which @htownjenny—and here’s where I think the Universe is talking to me—retweeted in response that her Saint Bernard (hmmm?) woke her and her partner up by standing between them on their bed barking down at them! (Scary!) (Humphrey never did this.)

And then, @todgoldberg retweeted that his dog (inexplicably named Rube Goldberg—why?) routinely is found to be staring at his owners while they sleep.

Now, I ask you, isn’t the universal injunction not perfectly clear here? It’s been a very long four years.


Corie Skolnick

Corie Skolnick is the author of two novels, ORFAN and AMERICA’S MOST ELIGIBLE, both published by india street press the publishing subsidiary of indie record label, Mannequin Vanity Records. She is a contributor to the non-fiction anthologies, ADOPTION REUNION IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE and ADOPTION THERAPY. Her essays have appeared in THE BIG SMOKE AMERICA and NAILED MAGAZINE. She writes regularly for the travel website, She is a San Diego State University/Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers Series selectee. Her first novel, ORFAN is in development as a feature film.

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