Neighbors

yappy-dog
"I guess the subtlety undermined the message."


I try to comport myself as a good neighbor. Honestly I do, but I can become yippie sometimes if provoked. It takes quite a lot to provoke me. Yesterday, after about eight hours either on a ladder or crouched low on my knees painting, I'd just settled into a camp chair on my freshly painted deck to reflect on a job well done when a yippie dog somewhere down the lane commenced to yipping. It was fairly emphatic, whatever the provocation. I figured it might quiet down after a few minutes, but I was mistaken. I leaned back to meditate for a few minutes, figuring I could probably repel the aural assault by focusing my mind. Let's just say that my mind has nothing on any duck's back. Later, I was moved to write a short vituperation and post it on our neighborhood list serve. I know, unrequested advice. Now, of course, I'm crouching, fairly terrified to see what feedback I've received.

The Muse serves as translator when one of these things happens, and she read back a few of the many responses.
The first reply complemented me on the quality of my writing. The second one accused me of being a snowflake. I asked her what she meant by that before logging off and focusing my attention in some other direction. Someone later responded that their neighbor owned the offending puppy but had been unaware of the mayhem it was generating. Once informed of the infraction, that neighbor quickly silenced the yipper. Someone wondered why I hadn't asked the owner to silence the dog, and I'd considered that, but quickly abandoned the idea as unworkable. The neighborhood lies in a draw, with homes arrayed in several levels up the side of a mountain. Decks face back to overlook a lane below, so sounds echo all over the place. I couldn't tell where the sounds were coming from.

I've gotten myself in trouble before when resorting to the court of public opinion. Making a provocative statement, unsurprisingly, tends to provoke some people. My next door neighbor stopped on her walk this morning to ask if her Oliver was the offending dog. I reassured her that he was not, pointing out that she never abandons her puppy on her deck when she leaves the house. She encouraged me to yell at him if he ever unsets me, though I've not yet found a reason to get more than mildly annoyed at him. There's one dog that every other dog in the village seems to hate. A small black "kick dog" of an animal that seems to provoke every other dog to bark whenever he shows up. I've spoken to its owner a few times. She doesn't know why the dog is so reviled, but she recognizes that it is. It embarrasses her.

One respondent fell back on the old Love It Or Leave It line, suggesting that my complaint was the problem which would not exist if I simply moved where I had no neighbors. In short, every color and stripe of neighbor emerged, thanks to that yippie dog and my modest vituperation. I was trying to offer good advice, advice I'd welcome (I hope), and my status seems to have been both elevated and diminished as a result. Some might have filed me under the Dog Hater category, and not only because I admitted that I am a cat person. I did suggest that an equivalent assault might involve me emptying the contents of my cat's litter box on the offending owner's doorstep, though I swore I'd never do that. Some comments suggested that my suggestion, which I stated as something I would never do, was vile. I guess the subtlety undermined the message.

Sunday, our next door neighbor fixed the broken pipe in the drip system, an ordeal of a gesture which had him shuttling to the hardware store twice and cursing the incessant wind which kept his solder from heating and sealing properly. He finished the job and refused to bill us for the full cost of the effort, insisting that we qualified for the friends and family discount even if we didn't want it. I love my neighbors, even (perhaps especially) the ones who can't quite seem to understand me. I can't quite seem to understand all of them, either. There's a guy down the block who landscaped the designated wild area adjacent to his property. The neighborhood association had to sue him to get him to remove the landscaping and restore the native habitat. He was reportedly pissed and never admitted to any wrong-doing. To his mind, he was simply improving raw land.

Here's the full text of my widely appreciated and also widely unappreciated listserv note:

I understand that Genesee Village is one of those dog-friendly places, but this evening, I'm wondering if it could possibly be people (neighbor) friendly. For the last hour or so, some small dog has been voicing his disgruntlement to every neighbor's dismay. It's meditation hour, but no peace hangs over our potentially peaceful neighborhood. Somebody's baby has chosen to extrovert his obvious dismay. Maybe a magpie hovers nearby, earning points in whatever game the magpies play. Maybe another neighbor is walking his baby nearby. The distress has been non-stop, which leads me to conclude that the owner left their baby out on the deck to fend for itself in their absence.

I want the owner to understand that their puppy represents them to their neighbors. No matter now thoughtful you might think yourself to be, that persona evaporates about two minutes into what has now become over an hour's performance. Us cat people might retaliate by leaving the contents of our "baby's" litter box on your doorstep, but you know we won't do that. Those contents would just as accurately represent our baby to you as your baby represents you to us.

If you have a dog, please do not leave it out on your deck while you run to the shops or go out to find supper. The rest of us remain at home, a place where we might mistakenly suppose we should find some semblance of tranquility. Please remember that we don't consider your dog baby particularly enchanting, that we quake in the presence of even the tiny so-called "kick-dog" variety, and that we might deserve the tranquility you sought in heading out to the shops or supper. If you're leaving the place, consider sequestering that puppy in the basement shower stall, or anyplace at all where the magpies or whatever might unsettle its apparently over-delicate sensibilities. I will definitely appreciate it. Your tuckered puppy might also thank you for taking away the obligation to protect you from all the threats hassling you in your absence.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









blog comments powered by Disqus