Advice from Denver Life

When neighbor dogs use your property as their personal toilet, what recourse do you have? (And other advice.)

Illustration by Ingo Fast

I live in Colorado Springs, right on a busy sidewalk, and someone is letting his or her dog poop in my small front yard without cleaning it up. How do I get this to stop? —Alisha, Colorado Springs

Ah, the perils of owning a yard in the city! This depends on two things: whether it’s the same culprit every time, and if so, whether you know this person. If this is a repeat offender, and you know the person casually as a neighbor, you’re well within your rights to “bump into” him or her while the dog is doing its business and offer a friendly reminder to clean up the mess. Contrary to popular belief, dog poop is not all that innocuous. It does pose certain health risks and it doesn’t act as fertilizer for your grass in the same way that, say, cow poop might. Be friendly; your reputation as a neighbor is at stake. If it’s a stranger, be a little more forceful. If it’s a different dog owner each time, you might try a classic NYC-style “curb your dog” sign. A funny one is best, as it seems friendlier, and is less likely to cause resentment among passersby. Head over to (yes, really) for some good options. You can also put out a box of free doggie waste bags as a subtler suggestion. Tip: These don’t have to look horrible. Rig up a bird box at eye level with waste bags that can be pulled out through the hole.

My sea-level friend just came to visit me in Denver and didn’t feel well after a hike. She’s in great shape. Could this be altitude sickness? —Kate, Stapleton

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It certainly could be. If her symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of coordination, or—more seriously—nausea and vomiting, altitude sickness is likely to blame. Frustratingly, there’s no telling who will experience this nasty side effect of traveling to a high-altitude city like Denver, as age, sex, and overall health aren’t good indicators of who is at risk. Therefore, it’s better to play it safe. The number-one thing to know is that this shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is more than just a common headache. It’s the body trying to adjust to changes in air pressure and oxygen level, which can affect the lungs, blood, and even the brain. Always consult a doctor first. Descending to a lower altitude is the best course of treatment. Don’t attempt any more hikes, or other activities that involve elevation gain, until the symptoms have passed. Your friend should also try to stay warm and rest, drink lots of water, and definitely avoid alcohol. If anything changes or worsens, seek emergency medical treatment.

I’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol. How can I stick to this without making my drinking friends (and myself) uncomfortable? —Brian, RiNo

First of all, good for you! It’s certainly possible to maintain your social life without booze, and without any awkwardness among friends. Consider orienting your schedule around external excuses not to drink. Offer to be the group’s designated driver, or start working out with a trainer who meets you for morning sessions. That way, when the inevitable “You’re not drinking?” comes up, you can quickly say, “I have to be up tomorrow at 6 for a track workout,” or some such. That said, you don’t need to hide the fact that you don’t drink, especially with close friends. The truth is, in today’s health-conscious world, they’re more likely to admire you than to pressure you into drinking when you don’t want to. Make things easier for yourself by bringing your own drinks to parties—ginger beer or sparkling water, maybe—so you never have to walk around empty-handed. Of course, it’s easier to be sober with a buddy, and it’s a perfect excuse to make a new close friend, if you have an acquaintance who’s also abstaining. At the end of the day, trust that time will build your confidence.

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