"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

He Doesn't LOOK Like a Bad Dog (Neighborly Relations)

This is Lancelot. Our dog. Our handsome, silly, charming, collie-dog. Who is a bad, bad dog. Oh, there are no bad dogs, you say, only bad owners?

Well shit, you're probably right. But still, this dog is not high on the list of good dogs. He's never going to make the Purina Good Dog Top Ten List. He's not really very bright (I thought collies were smart) and while he is extremely good natured and wouldn't hurt a fly, he most certainly would hurt a chicken (Bad Dog).

And now he has gotten us into trouble with the neighbors. Yes, the same neighbors with whom we have had animal troubles before (Chickens Cause Problems). I freely admit, all the problems I have had with my sweet elderly neighbor are entirely our fault. She has never done anything unneighborly, while I have let loose numerous animal hoodlums all over hell and gone, who tear up her garden, eat the cat food she leaves out for her cat, chase said cat, and apparently bark at her and scare her.

It is always important to maintain good relations with the neighbors, but it is particularly important that we do so with this neighbor, Mrs. J. Mrs. J. is the matriarch of a clan which still owns most of the property in a quarter mile in every direction. She has at least four children, and all of them live on their own piece of the family acreage, right on this stretch of the road. The family has been here forever, so all of the neighbors who aren't actually part of her family know her anyway.

In fact, this entire vicinity is in a rather delicate social situation. The property we bought belonged to another old-time pioneer family that owned a hundred and fifty acres. Between the two families, and one other that owns the same acreage on the other side of the road, they actually constituted the neighborhood for many years. It was only about 5 years ago that one set of neighbors (let's call them the L's) decided to sell their dairy farm and breakup the property into five acre parcels for luxury homes. Of course, we knew none of this history when we bought the five acre parcel on which sat the original farmhouse (far from a luxury home, BTW, more of a fixer-upper's wet dream) - the others had mostly been converted into luxury homes - excuse me "estates" - over the preceding three or four years. The third neighbor in this trinity (let's call them the K's) filled me in on the local history, including the fact that the J's and the L's had never really been good neighbors and had a fair amount of bad blood.

So we walk into this quagmire - the area is changing fast, and old farming families are having to sell off their property to pay inheritance taxes as the older generation dies, and those that remain are watching McMansions sprout up all over the landscape like poison mushrooms, raising property taxes and importing dumbass city-slickers (imagine me raising my hand, here). We take over what was once a nicely manicured and landscaped property and quickly begin covering it with junked cars, erecting a visible-from-space steel quonset hut, and building cheap wobbly fences that do not prevent our animals from marauding all over the area and despoiling neighborhood gardens.

Jesus, I'm surprised we haven't been shot in our beds.

So, yesterday, I am out on the front porch enjoying a spot of sun when a highly pissed (but icily polite) neighbor pulls into my driveway. She is the daughter of Mrs J. and she briefly informs me of the depredations of my evil collie-dog, and then further informs me of the laws pertaining to unrestrained animals in this-here county. Of course she is one hundred percent right and I am one hundred percent wrong and so I (quite sincerely) kowtow and fall all over myself apologizing. I assure her it won't happen again.

Later, being the guilty sinner I am, I can't stop thinking about what a bad neighbor I have been and continue to feel awful. It's hard for me to imagine anyone being frightened of Lancelot, but I am not an eighty-year old lady. I decide to write her a letter and slink over and sneak it into her mailbox when she isn't looking.

It goes a little something like this:

Dear Mrs. J:
Please accept my apologies for the trouble my dog has caused. Here is something to cover the cat food he has eaten (taped in $15). Please be assured we will do our utmost to make certain this doesn't happen again. My husband and I have been thinking about repairing the fence between our properties (author's note: said fence is basically non-existent) but some areas are only accesible from your side - may we have your permission to go onto your property to repair the fence ?
Again, I am very sorry for any trouble -

As my sister pointed out, there are basically only three possible responses to this letter -

1. some kind of polite acknowledgment that gives us permission to fix the fence

2. total and complete silence

3. a hostile response that basically says "hell no you can't come on my property for any reason."

I fear response #2 above all others - even if we were to get response #3, well, we would know where we stand. But if I get no response, what am I supposed to do? Go ahead and fix the fence? Ignore the situation for thirty years?

In the meantime, Bad Dog Lance (his new nickname) is living life confined to the backyard. More frequent poop-pickup.


Gail V said...

I'm sorry, Aimee, but once again, highly amused by your writing. Best of luck and keep 'em coming.

Olive said...

Here in Oz fences between properties are JOINT responsibility so if you fix the fence maybe ask the neighbour to contribute toward the cost.
I'd like to be a fly on the wall to watch the reaction.
Your posts are very humorous Aimee, cant help but have a good laugh, but maybe its because I have "been there, done that" too.

The Idiot Gardener said...

He looks like a bad dog to me!

Dea-chan said...

My mom had a "bad dog problem" when I was in HS. He would always lie like a log on his chain, but the instant he was off-chain, he would bolt. Through the neighborhood. Stealing other dog's toys.

He came home with a bone bigger than my femur once. We were like "um... we didn't buy that for you..." And sure enough we found it's proper owner the next day. Who was very sad to be missing a new chewtoy.


Good luck with your Lance.

Aimee said...

Dear Olive,
that is also the case around here. But that leads to another story with these particular neighbors: after we bought the place but before we moved here (there was a gap of about four months) these neighbors said they were replacing the fence along their back pasture - about two thirds of the property line, and would we contribute to the cost? We said of course, just let us know how much our half of the materials are. They erected the fence, but we never heard from them about our share. So after we moved in, I went over there with a pie (backwards, I know, aren't they supposed to bake the pie??) and asked again how much we owed. I was told "oh, I'll have to look it up." Well, about six months later I asked again, and when I still never heard back I figured we didn't owe them anything. But at the least, we DO owe them fixing the last third of the fence without asking THEM for any money, don't ya think?

Andy Brown said...

As the poet said:

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

-- Robert Frost

polly's path said...

awww, he can't help it. Cat food is like crack for dogs.
Our dog MoJo who died at 18 last November once stole porterhouse steaks from a neighbor's grill who threatened to shoot her. And ate another one's chickens. And destroyed an aprtment when she was young and hubby left her unattended for a day. And shredded close to a ton of newspapers when he was younger and had a paper route and stored the papers in a room she clawed into.
So, I think your pup is behaving pretty darm good. For now, that is.

Brat said...

I believe the picture of Lance says it all. xoxo Sarah