I’m a good neighbor. We park our cars in the garage, keep our grass mowed, weeds pulled, and beside Joe’s Memorial, we have never had a loud and raucous event at my house. My furry campers are never left outside to bark, we pick up poop promptly, and when my neighbor complained that I was getting water on her sidewalk while watering my lilacs, I apologized profusely and ceased and desisted immediately. I’m known as the neighborhood dog lady, often reuniting pups that have gone astray with their owners (often, taking my nieces with me so they can see how it’s done), and I care for our neighborhood pups when their owners travel. I feel that making my business beneficial to the neighbors is another way to be a good neighbor, but lately it hasn’t been working very well for me.
In April, I took care of little Cookie, a Chihuahua, who belongs to our neighbors across the street. Cookie stayed at home and I was just supposed to feed him and let him out. But Cookie, all five pounds of him, greeted me like an alligator. I talked to him in my best no nonsense, I’m-a-professional voice as I reached out to put the leash on him; he was not buying it as he lunged out to bite my hand. I grabbed the leash and lassoed him with it and then he charged at me with his teeth bared. I thought, “I’m too old for this crap,” and dragged his sorry little huha butt out the door. My pint-size alligator snapped, growled, and lunged at me the entire time we walked, only stopping long enough to lift his leg. The tricky part was getting the leash off when we went back inside. Through a combination of moves, I managed to do it without getting bit. His owner returned, thanked me, and mentioned that it was hard to find people who were willing to check in on little Cookie. Imagine my surprise. Bless his heart.
Fast forward to May. Memorial Day is just not one of my better weekends. Last year, I wrote about Teddy and the Wozzle, and this year, I have Devil Dog. Early in May, my neighbor down the street asked me if his dog could stay with me for the weekend while he went to a wedding. He lives with his elderly dad and he did not think his dad could handle his dog for the weekend. I was pleased he was asking me three weeks in advance and thought his consideration for his dad was admirable (I am such a sucker). I knew the dog from the neighborhood and he seemed nice enough, so I agreed, and the neighbor thanked me profusely.
Checking the dog into camp was our first problem. The neighbor was three hours late. I needed to leave for an appointment, so Vickie, our friend and camp helper, agreed to check the camper in when he arrived. When my neighbor did not show for a second time, Vickie left and agreed to return when the neighbor called to say he was ready to drop his dog at camp. By the time I arrived at home, Devil Dog was showing his dissatisfaction with his accommodations by trying to bite Vickie as she was trying to lead him into our house. We don’t allow biting at camp, and even looking like you might want to bite Vickie is quickly going to lead to a lot of unpleasantness. I took Devil Dog’s leash in hand, was very clear about who was top dog, and insisted he follow me into the house and into his crate. For the sake of brevity, pretend that it went just like that and Devil Dog did not scream like he was being water-boarded all the way into the house. Once in the crate, Devil Dog settled down and Vickie and I were sure that, in no time, he would be part of our big happy camp family. No hugs were forthcoming.
Ugly does not even begin to describe Devil Dog whenever I tried to move near his crate or approached him with a leash. In ten years of dealing with our campers, I had never been bitten and I did not want Devil Dog to be the first. I considered my options and realized I needed swat gear!
The poker was not used to hit Devil Dog; it allowed me to open the crate door from a safe distance. The rest of the gear is pretty self-explanatory.
Did it work? Sort of. Even when you deal with dogs 24/7 it’s hard not to feel fear when faced with a snarling, lunging, growling 80-pound dog. Dogs use fear to their advantage. My swat gear reduced my fear and boosted my confidence. Devil Dog knew that I was not relinquishing leadership when I faced him in my swat gear using a barbecue grill as a shield, with my poker by my side. We called a tense truce. Devil Dog leaves today. We have two more rounds to go before I am declared the clear winner.
Will Devil Dog be camping with us again? No. I’m just not that good of a neighbor.
Wassup with you? Odd Loves Company!
Note: Devil Dog was completely isolated from other campers.