Phantom Scribbler’s family had a run-in with a neighborhood dog on the loose, and it reminded me of this story.
We have a neighbor, Evangelical Mommy, who is very bad about keeping her dog on leash. Whenever the dog — we’ll call him Oregano — gets loose, he runs straight to our house, hoping to get in and see Molly and Sam. This was particularly bad when he was a puppy; Pure Luck would often be sitting at his computer and catch a flash of something out of the corner of his eye: yep, Oregano again! He almost never had a collar on, so we would end up looping one of our leashes around his neck and walking him back over to their house. My biggest worry was that he would get past our house. They live at the fenced-across end of our quiet, dead end street, but the live end is only a few houses past us, and at the live end is Busy Avenue.
One time when I was taking him home, I let the owner have it, but in the “killing them with kindness” sort of way.
“Here is Oregano,” I said. “We found him in our yard. He didn’t even have a collar on, so I had to loop the leash to get him back to you.”
“Oh,” said she, all smiles. “He is always getting out of his collar.”
(This does not explain how he got out of the house, into their unfenced yard and thence down the street.)
I said, “I am worried about Oregano. I would hate to find him out on Busy Avenue, smashed flat as a pancake!” I smiled a large, concerned smile, turned over the dog and went home.
After that they were better, most of the time. They continue to believe that he will stay with them if they play in the yard without a leash.
The dog owner in question is very conservative (socially, politically and theologically), and she is protective of her children. Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to her dog. And don’t get me started on their previous dog, who was old and deaf and somewhat blind and had to bite THREE people before the neighbor would consider having the poor unhappy dog put to sleep. First bite was the husband. Second bite was the young son, then about five years old, who spent several nights in the hospital getting IV antibiotic therapy. Third bite was a neighbor, and that’s when Animal Control was dispatched after the neighbor went to the hospital in an ambulance.
Some people have a hard time understanding that leash laws are not meant to inconvenience dogs but to protect them, and to protect people, too.
Our dogs are gigantic and gentle. I would give anything for a picture of the day Molly ate goldfish crackers out of Baby Blue’s hand. But when they go out of the house and into the unfenced front yard, they are on their leashes. I could never forgive myself if they hurt a person or were hurt themselves.
Cats, of course, are another matter entirely. We had a discussion a few years ago with our back fence neighbor who replaced our mutual picket fence with stockade, telling me that our cat, Puss Puss, was intimidating one of her children. Um. Okay. I’m not sure a fence will keep a cat out, I said pleasantly, but if you would like to replace it, that’s okay with me. This was in the days before Sam, and Molly loved to see her kids through the fence, but it wasn’t worth fussing over even if it was bound to be ineffectual.
A couple of years go by and guess what? They get two cats. And one of them spends as much time as possible on our side of the fence, hunting down my cats! Yesterday, Pure Luck found her collar in our garage. The Princess kindly delivered the stray collar to the neighbor’s door, which seemed the least we could do.
“Oh, Toots is always losing her collars in other people’s yards!”
Oh, well. Good fences make good neighbors.
*That is the adorable company name of the dog walker we use. We love her!