I was thinking of how many people would be mad at me – my cousins, my friends, my siblings (well, one of them), my girls, myself (…eh)… And so I didn’t open the gate. I grabbed that dog by the collar and I started the trek across the grass, through the mud, flung open the gate (with my hand very firmly on the dog’s collar), and marched him over to the neighbor’s house. For the fifth time in three days.
Everyone on Facebook has heard the complaints already. My neighbor means well. He does. He tries to be a good neighbor, a good father, and an honorable man. The problem is… well, there are a few of them. There’s a language barrier, which makes any interaction with him a struggle. He works two or three jobs to provide for his large, extended family who live with him. He spoils his two sons (ages 7 & 9 maybe?) rotten so that they’re absolute brats when he’s not around (uh, which is any time between 6a and 10p, because two jobs). So, yeah, a few problems. The latest of which is that they have too many dogs and not enough f*@)s to give.
The first dog the family has is not a favorite in our end of the neighborhood. It’s allowed to roam freely and it will charge and nip you (or just plain terrorize you) if my neighbor isn’t out. And the boys? I mentioned how terrible they are; they don’t care to make the beagle/Jack Russel terrier mix stay in their yard while they play. So I was a little leery when I found out about the second dog, a pit bull/rhinoceros mix who is so sweet, but so huge! and likes to jump on you from behind and smother you in puppy kisses.
I found out about the second puppy, Brownie, the last time I had to go yell at the neighbor for leaving the dog(s) out all night and letting them whine under my bedroom window for two hours at 2 a.m. [That’s also when I saw my neighbor hit his son for leaving the gate open and letting the dog get out at night. Which, uh, no thanks.] I really got to know Brownie, though, when neighbor caught me one day when I came home from work. Sidestory! I had just put down the garage and heard someone banging on the garage door just before it finished sliding all the way down. Who does that?! Creepers and serial killers, that’s who! The “knocking” continued, so I went into the house, stepped around a frenzied Fenway, looked out the front window and didn’t see anyone. Because they were already knocking on my front door. The peephole (god bless peepholes) said it was my neighbor, so I went out and we struggled through a conversation (the man speaks three languages, I’m not knocking him; it’s just painful) about replacing the fence on our shared side of the yard. I knew it was something I was going to have to do after I got my taxes back – that fence is beyond rotten. Slats are missing. We’ve patched the holes as best we can to keep the dogs away from each other. And his kids like to throw things through the missing parts because: brats. So I had unlatched the gate and we were walking back there and talking and Brownie was with him, unleashed, just jumping on the two of us and trying to love on everything. And marking his territory everywhere. Pooping in my yard. You know. Neighbor dude mentioned how the puppy was eating everything in his house and wasn’t training up really well, but his boys loved him. I noted how friendly the dog was cried a little on the inside because all we needed was another problem dog.
And problem dog he was. Thank GOD the sweet pup-pup was as loving as he was. If he was mean, I’d probs be dead or mangled by now. Because that dang thing can wiggle through some pretty small holes, which is a doggy miracle, given the size of the thing. He immediately started busting into our yard, trying to get to Fenway. Or see what there was to see. Or just because – who knows. I just know that half the times I looked up into our yard, there would be Brownie. At first I just coaxed him back through the holes left by the missing fence slats. Neighbor and I kept replacing them, or jimmying together some temporary fix that we thought patched the fence good enough to prevent jailbreaks. But there would be that dang dog again. Brownie would come up to me when I went outside to “fix” it – eventually. He might dance up and dart away a few times, wanting to give me some puppy kisses, but knowing I was going to send him away. If I wasn’t so frustrated, I woulda laughed at how obviously torn the puppy was.
I kinda lost my patience after this weekend, though. Five jailbreaks in three days. FIVE. The dog was tearing my screens trying to see in the house, chewing on my patio furniture, and pooping on the patio! (The poop ended up over the fence on top of the neighbor’s a/c unit. I don’t know how. Honestly. ish.) I was all done being a good neighbor.
I started bringing the dog to their front door, thinking that would emphasize to them how often this was happening. Then I put the dog on a leash to give them an idea that they could let their dog out on a leash. In fact, when the boys answered the door, I started making that suggestion. “You guys need to get this under control, or maybe use a leash.” And then, “Tell your dad that he needs to hurry up and fix the fence, or you’ll have to use a leash for the dog every time because this is getting ridiculous.” That was the time the boys slammed the door in my face as soon as they had the puppy. And I might have yelled through the door exactly what I thought of that response when I was being pretty cool about the dang dog. I thought about telling my neighbor about the door being slammed in my face, but since he had hit the boys before for not listening to him, I didn’t want to be a party to whatever fallout would happen if he knew his kids had disrespected me that way. But I did plenty of fuming.
This is when everyone started telling me to start documenting the problem, or maybe call animal control. But I hated to do that. My neighbor genuinely is a good guy. He’s just not there because he’s trying to live the American Dream and you need a lot of paychecks to do that when you’re making what we’re making. He’s a guy who patched my roof once and has offered 2938209348 times since then to help with it again. He always waves and would help with any problem I had. When I went over to complain about his dog, he thought I was talking about the stray dog that had attacked him, and so he took a butcher knife because he thought he was coming out to rescue me. Neighbor is a good guy – just absent and not able to easily communicate when he is there. So I don’t think he’s manipulating the situation or trying to take advantage of me. The neighbors would judge me if I called the cops on one of us (we’re a tight-knit community and we try to handle our problems inside the family first), even though I’m sure they’d understand once I explained. So I don’t think Neighbor was banking on me not breaking the code, either. I think he just doesn’t know how often it’s happening because he’s not there and his bratty boys aren’t telling him.
I was already past the point of caring how mad anyone got because I was done. I had had a long day at work, I didn’t need to chase down and drag the neighbor’s dog back to his house twice. I wanted to unwind and go to bed in peace. But I couldn’t, because the doorbell rang at 9 p.m. I stared at the door, jaw agape, wondering what the heck. I had just started shutting down the house for the night, but the lights where still on so they could see someone was up. That doesn’t obligate me to answer the door, but I had a sneaky suspicion that it was the neighbors. I had heard a noise outside and did a quick scan, but didn’t see Brownie. Then again, it was pitch black. Which also meant I couldn’t see who was at the door without putting on the porch lights. I couldn’t put on porch lights without them knowing I was up. The doorbell had run again and knocking had started while I tried to decide what to do. Finally I decided that if I didn’t answer and it was the neighbors looking for their dog, they’d probably just open my gate and come on in. Which, after I opened the door, saw it was one of the boys, and let him through the house to go get the dog from the yard, I found out is exactly what happened. But no dog. I hoped that the dog had escaped and was running around the neighborhood, never to be found (yes, I’m a bad person going to hell), but after I ushered the neighbors out of my house and my yard, I heard them out in their front and back yards yelling and shrieking and whistling – but mostly shrieking – for more than thirty minutes. Yes, Spring Break week, but who lets their kids be that loud outside after 9p on a weeknight?!
So I’m done. Done, done, done. I haven’t quite figured out what that means, but for sure there’s going to be a firm discussion with my neighbor. And I’m going to hand him one of my extra leashes, because I’m pretty sure he’ll follow through on that plan. But something has to be done. If the fence can’t be fixed right now, then maybe they need a run for their dog. I’ll tell him that the last thing I want to do is create hard feelings by calling animal control to report the dog when it’s gotten loose, but the situation has gotten out of control.
Like I said – justifiable homicide. The problem is, at this point I’m not sure if I’m more upset with the dog, the neighbor, or those two bratty boys!