Friday, November 13, 2009

Robert Frost Had The Right Idea

I’ve mentioned before that we have a Beagle named Maggie. Like all Beagles she is slightly smelly, incredibly neurotic, ruled by her nose, and loud when she howls. She also likes to spend a great deal of her time outside wandering the yard having an extended prowl and sniff. We have a lot of wildlife around here - chipmunks, squirrels, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and the occasional coyote - so the yard always has some new smell to be discovered by her inquisitive nose. In an effort to keep her safe from wildlife that might harm her (she was attacked by a deer the first week we lived here) and to keep her from being a nuisance to our neighbors, we installed an invisible fence and trained her to obey it.

She does very well with it. She doesn’t generally approach the borders of the fence, she knows exactly where she can and cannot go without getting zapped and if she does wander into the fence line she jumps back in bounds quickly.

The point is we make an effort not only keep her safe but to avoid annoying our neighbors with our pet.

The same cannot be said about one of our next door neighbors.

About a year or so ago, they adopted a dog from Animal Friends. The dog is in large part Walker Hound (aka the Treeing Walker Coonhound) and as a result has many of the same characteristics of our beagle but is about 3 times her size. Brody is as sweet as they come - he’s friendly, he obeys voice commands, he loves to play with people and other pets (apparently he LURVES cats). Like many hounds, Brody also has separation anxiety and when he is left alone in his house, he gets destructive. Very destructive.

My neighbors’ solution to this problem is to not leave him in the house when they are gone. If they cannot take Brody wherever it is they are headed, he is left loose to roam the neighborhood at will. He does not keep to his yard - once again, being a hound, he is ruled by his nose - and does whatever he damn well pleases no matter whose property he is on. They installed invisible fencing and then did not take the time to properly train the dog to it so once he figured out that the shock stopped as long as he just kept going, he stopped paying any attention to the fence at all. It didn't matter how hard they shocked him at that point.

He digs. He poops in other people’s yards. He trees other people’s cats. He gets into garbage. He poops on back porches. He barks at cats/squirrels/whatever he has treed. He drives other people’s dogs absolutely wild. He wanders far and wide across a range of busy and dangerous roads that often take out animals the size of a full grown white-tailed buck.

His owners, you ask? Oblivious. They don’t care. Their response is “just call if you have a problem.” So, you call. They take care of whatever the issue is. They apologize.

The next day the dog is out doing the same thing again.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

This has been going on for over a year. The husband of this family happens to be a lawyer and should know what the laws are regarding nuisance pets in our area. I’m sure he’s aware and just doesn’t give a damn. But it makes the rest of the neighborhood loath to get into it with these people. The wife is totally oblivious. She just doesn’t see the problem. She thinks everyone is fine with it and when something is mentioned to her, she always has an excuse as to why it either a) wasn’t Brody or b) isn’t a big deal.

She’s always happy to offer an apology. But that’s all it ever is.

Now, I have spent a lot of time over the last year trying to beat into Liam’s head that sorry is all well and good but if you don’t change your behavior and stop doing whatever it is you’re sorry for, then the apology means nothing. He seems to be getting it.

If my 4 year old gets it, she should be able to figure this out, too.

So, I’ve taken to yelling at Brody to get the hell off my lawn every chance I get and I’m just waiting for her to approach me to try and “clear the air.”

At which point the air isn’t going to get a whole lot less clear as I give her an earful of what the neighborhood thinks of her, her dog, and her non-existent pet ownership skills. I’m the daughter of two veterinarians. I know whereof I speak on such topics.

It’s probably going to make me “that” neighbor but I was already halfway there anyway. In for a penny, in for a pound...

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