I stepped out of my building with my dog in tow. In front of our coop building we have a new tree, where we constructed an iron fence around the new tree. The fence is there to keep dogs out. A woman was there, letting her dog in the fenced in area.
In a gentle tone of voice, I stated something I believe is obvious: "We put a fence around this tree because we don't want dogs in there."
Of course, the woman got defensive, and a common way to speak defensively is to avoid what someone has said directly. "I have a bag! It's not like I'm going to leave it there!"
If I had had my wits, I would have repeated my first sentence verbatim. Having a bag does nothing to mitigate the fact that we don't want dogs there, whether you pick up after your dog or not. I told her that it's the urine that is the real threat to the tree's health, which is true, but in a sense, it was also beside the point. We don't want dogs there, and that's really all there is to it, reasons or no reasons, good reasons or bad reasons. Why else would anyone put a fence in? Would anyone rightly think a fence is a reminder to dog owners that they should pick up after their dogs? No. A fence says unambiguously, "Stay out." It does not say, "Behave yourself when you enter (or allow your dog to enter)."
So what thought goes through the minds of dog owners when they allow their dogs inside tree-surrounding fences? Silly question, I know, because I'm using the words "thought" and "mind," as if they are actually involved.
I'm tempted to hang a sign on the fence that says, "The fence is here to keep dogs out. Please don't let your dog in." Is that likely to get people to engage their minds? Maybe not, but it will give some people a chuckle. Or at least, it will give one person a chuckle.