Wednesday, June 9, 2010
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.