How very unsettling to feel ready to bash in the head of a living creature. I felt that way this afternoon. Home from shopping, I looked out to the fenced back yard and saw two dogs lounging in the grass. Not our dogs. Dogs belonging to the rear neighbors.
Years ago, they installed a pool. The fence, theirs, was in poor repair then, and we asked whether they’d be replacing it. The owner put on a pitiful face and said, “I just can’t afford it.” He asked whether we would go halves on it. We said no, the fence was his, and his legal responsibility. We think he’s been waiting us out ever since.
They couldn’t afford the fence, but they could afford some silly fake rock formations with fountains in them. And beer. And a radio that plays very loud and very bad “woman stole my truck so I drink a lot” country music. And dogs. An assortment of small dogs. I think I’ve seen three different ones, a couple of Chihuahuas and something like a Shih-tzu. “What, you’re upset about such little doggies?” Yes, because the neighbors’ version of training is to scream threats at the dogs, and the dogs have absorbed that level of responsibility.
They bark hysterically and growl at us whenever we enter our own yard. When the crumbling slats of the fence shift, they come through to poop in our yard and to bark and snarl at us on our own property. They’re little, but they have teeth, and we have grandchildren. The youngest is not quite two. The next is five. Their family dog is big, well-trained and gentle. They may not understand a threat from a small dog. Even a little dog can do damage to a child.
This time, when I saw the two dogs, I stomped into the foyer, where I keep a collapsible metal baton with the baby stroller, in case of strays that might menace us on walks. I’ve never had to use it. I yanked it out of its case and charged out to the yard, yelling “Get out!” The little blighters actually stood their ground briefly before backing out through the fence. I heard one of the adults in their yard feebly calling a dog’s name. She’d apparently been out there and had done nothing when they went through the fence. I found a loose slat where the varmints went through and tried to wedge it into the opening—not easy when all the wood is in shreds. I returned to the house breathing fire and calmed down a bit before calling animal control. “It sounds silly to complain about Chihuahuas,” I told the young woman on the phone, “but they are aggressive.” She said she understood and would enter the report.
Now I wait to see what will happen. Will the bad neighbors be cursing us? Throwing garbage over—or through—the fence? Shooting out our windows? Or maybe they’ll suck it up and act responsible. I’ll hope for that. Even mild-mannered grandmas can be pushed too far.