english-style tudor doghouse
Photo: Alison Rosa
Alfie with his English-style Tudor doghouse
Dogs may be Man's best friend, but that friend can become too familiar. Like when the neighbor's dog visits your yard to relieve itself.

The result can be a blight on both your lawn and neighborhood relations. Polite protests can be ignored, and taking revenge might make your negligent neighbor less inclined to lend you his Sawzall.

But there is an answer that's acceptable to everyone, probably, except the dog in question. Contech Electronics Inc. makes a sprinkler it calls the Scarecrow, which is designed to prevent unwanted lawn deposits.

The 9-volt-battery powered Scarecrow has a motion detector just like the ones found in security yard lights. Hook it up to a hose and it will shoot about two cups of water up to 35 feet in a quick burst. (You can watch a short video of the Scarecrow in action at www.scarecrowinfo.com.)

Julie White tried the Scarecrow on the advice of a friend after she failed to persuade her next-door neighbors to curb their yellow Labrador. "Every time I wanted to mow the lawn, I'd have to pick up his poop," says the Medford, Ore., resident.

White had reminded them of Medford's leash law, but got nowhere. Plan B was chicken wire around her front lawn, but that made it difficult for wanted visitors to enter White's property. And besides, she says, "it looks tacky."

One day, according to White, the offending dog owner told her: "Oh, I know what you mean. Our dog has really made a mess of our back yard. He's not allowed back there anymore." She describes that moment as her breaking point. "I really got torqued about it. I didn't want to fight with my neighbors, but I don't own a dog, so I shouldn't have to pick up after someone else's."

Soon after that discussion, White learned of the Scarecrow, which is black, but ships with yellow eye and beak decals if you need to add some menace. Its suggested retail price is $89, but it can be found online for less. White found hers for about $60—and with it, a bit of solace. The sprinkler made the dog scat before he could defile again.

And her neighbor? Says White, "She told me, 'Oh, my gosh. Your sprinkler really works. My dog came home all wet."

The Scarecrow deters other unwanted guests like deer, cats, and raccoons, too, says Contech co-founder Erik Djukastein. But really, its uses are limited only by the homeowner's imagination. He says customers have used it to keep paper deliverers and mail carriers from treading on lawns.

Others like to use it on Halloween: "It gives trick-or-treaters a little scare." (One assumes that the Scarecrow can also be used to clean eggs from home exteriors.) And some parents have used it to stop their kids from sneaking out their bedroom window at night. "It helps to know there are other ancillary benefits," says Djukastein.
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