She waved at me as I was walking Mitzi around the park on her daily constitutional. I waved back I recognized her as the "little old lady" with the brand new white pickup and sports car parked in her driveway a few houses down from me.

She approached me in that ginger-stepping, arms-held-out-for-balance way that elderly people do when they’re in a hurry but trying not to run. She had colorful plastic bags clenched in one hand that swung back and forth like a crazy pendulum.

“Is that your dog?” she repeated as she neared me, her eyes darting from my chiweenie Mitzi to the ground in front of her steps and back again. Mitzi was often the recipient of oohs and ahhs from people we met on our daily trip round the park and so I waited for the elderly woman to reach us. She didn’t have a dog with her and I saw no other people in the park so I figured she was just another senior citizen with empty hours and an available soft spot for little things on little legs like grandkids or little dogs.

“Yes, it is. Her name’s—“ I started to answer.

“Someone is not picking up their dog’s doodoo!” She waved the plastic bag in her hand. It flopped around like a sock stuffed with a bread roll. I realized it was full of dog droppings.

I shook my head and shrugged in commiseration. “Yeah, some people aren’t good dog owners.”

“I stepped in it! Made me want to throw up.” She stared balefully at Mitzi. “What’s your dog’s name?”

I scooped Mitzi up, just in case. “Mitzi.” I said.

“She does her business in the park here?” She waggled the bag of dog doo she held. The lump at the bottom was good sized.

I nodded. “She does.” I held up the little dog pickup bag dispenser attached to the retractable leash handle. A pickup bag waffled from the dispenser like a small flag. “I never know how much she’s going to go so I bring lots of bags.”

The old woman looked at me with one eye crooked, as if weighing how much of a liar and ne’er-do-well I might be. “Well. Somebody’s not picking up their dog’s business.” I almost got the sense she was hoping I’d suddenly break down and confess to the misdeed.

“Looks pretty big.” I said, indicating the dog pickup bag she held. “My dog’s pretty small.”

Maybe logic was getting through to her, maybe not. She irritatedly shook her head and started off. “People need to pick up after their dogs. Other people use this park. Kids and all.”

“Yeah.” I drawled in commiseration again.

I watched her leave, dog pickup bag swaying in her hand as she headed back to her house. She passed the park’s trashcan without disposing of the dog pickup bag. I assumed she was going to hold onto it for evidence, just in case. I looked at the green grass of the park. Dog poo, dog pee. That’s why I never sat on the grass anymore.

I set Mitzi down. She sniffed around for a suitable spot whose criteria was only known to the gods of dogs. “Okay. Go peepee. Poopoo.”

Life is full of little surprises; like the presents you get on your birthday or Christmas. I thought it would make the old woman’s day to leave her one for tomorrow.

by John Michael Duggan