Unlike Lake Norman, living in the Middle East region and Saudi Arabia in particular, one never had to worry about looking at or stepping in dog (ahem) waste. In Saudi Arabia dogs were found primarily in the desert or securely behind the walls of compounds and private villas. While keeping dogs as pets is growing in popularity in Saudi Arabia, the majority of dog owners are either expatriates or people others would view as open-minded. To many in Saudi Arabia, dogs are viewed as “haram” because canines are perceived as unclean.

In fact, there are regulations to even bring a dog into Saudi Arabia. The pooch must be classified as either a guard dog or seeing-eye dog. But crafty dog owners were able to slip a few poodles and Chihuahuas into the country categorized as guard dogs. Not all expatriate compounds would allow its residents have dogs. Those who did have a one generally had a long list of do’s and don’ts as well as a steep security deposit.

It was not only considered a high privilege to have a dog in Saudi Arabia, but failing to abide by the laws, dog ownership had stiff penalties. For example, failing to pick up after a dog could result in having it kicked out of a compound. All expatriate compounds in Riyadh are expensive rentals with long waiting lists. Expatriates tend to follow the rules of the compound. Although it’s impossible to know what exactly went on behind the high walls of those compounds, one would have to imagine that the dog had free reign to go to the bathroom where it pleased.

Luckily, dog waste wasn’t something I had to worry myself with until returning to the United States and settling in Huntersville. After living for an extended period where it was rare to see such deposits, this is something that has stood out to me. I love my neighborhood. There’s a mix of apartment homes and townhouses. The community has walking paths and a large pond that deer sneak up to for an evening drink. It is a joy to live among the greenery, water and nature. The atmosphere is always calm and tranquil – almost.

Although there are regulations and bylaws around such behavior, I’ve noticed some owners just don’t pick up after their dogs. Having to spend most of the time looking down to avoid the littered leavings instead of enjoying nature spoils a simple walk. As much as I would like to enjoy taking my 2-year-old grandson for a stroll (or typical of him, a run) in the grassy areas of my community, I would not risk it as we’d both likely end up with some doggy souvenirs clinging to the soles of our shoes in spite of the kiosks with bags spaced every few hundred feet apart.

The proliferations of doggy deposits are not isolated to areas with the largest plots of greenery. Sadly, another high area of congestion where dogs have been allowed to relieve themselves in my own community is in the grassy strip separating the street from the sidewalk. After dark becomes a high-risk area when running to your car.

As a newcomer to Huntersville and living where dog ownership is truly a privilege, I am surprised to find such an abuse of privilege in the land of freedoms. I question why some dog owners are not demonstrating the respect and responsibility of picking up after their dogs?

Leaving it in places where people would like to enjoy themselves is an inconvenience and quite the clean up.

Carol Fleming, who served as a U.S. diplomat to the Middle East, lives in Huntersville with her two cats, and you can read more of her thoughts at www.american
bedu.com. She can be reached at admin@americanbedu.com.