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As soon as I learned to walk, I learned to keep my eyes on the sidewalk. My neighborhood had more dogs than children, and in the era before pooper-scooper laws I knew how to distinguish the triumphal mound of the Great Dane from the delicate droppings of the aptly named shih tzu.

I thought I'd seen it all, but a strip of grass under an empty flagpole at the corner of Barry and Leavitt takes the prize. It must be the worst dog patch in town--a moat of shit from curb to sidewalk. There are so many mounds there's no path around them, no way to tiptoe through unsullied. Even a Chihuahua would step in it.

A man stands in the doorway of the corner house, and I ask a stupid question: Where did this all come from? He gives an appropriate answer: "There's a lot of dogs around here."


Reader to Reader welcomes (and pays for) anecdotes, overheard conversations, and slices of city life from 20 to 200 words in length. Send yours to Reader to Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611, or E-mail

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