Cathy Coley

Of Neighbors, Dogs, and Fences

Of Neighbors Dogs and Fences

I used to blog about balancing writing and family life with special needs at musingsinmayhem.wordpress.com when we lived in Virginia. My life has always had a bit of a wild hilarity in the mix. I wanted this website to be more about writing projects in its focus, but I am who I am, and my life is mayhem.

We moved two cats with us to North Carolina. We were dogless since the passing of our Lucy a handful of years earlier. We fostered and adopted a dog when we got to this house 2 years ago. Buddy is a schnauzer/Yorkshire terrier mix, in the parlance of designer mutts, he’s a snorky. He barks a lot and is the goofiest looking little dog, put together wrong, and his coat is scraggly. Much of the time I call him Scrufflupagus. He had kidney failure as we fostered him, and we paid the transfusion and other emergency vet fees, so the humane society waived our adoption fee.

He loves people, hates other dogs. Or as we are learning, doesn’t entirely understand how to be a dog with other dogs. He acts like he’s going to tear the throat out of a German Shepherd if we take him to the park. He weighs between thirteen and sixteen pounds. Then there was the incident with a neighbor’s big dogs when my twenty year old was walking him last fall. They downed and dragged the old guy, including a concussion, and fully attacked Buddy in my son’s arms. They were much bigger and tossed him around in their mouths like he was stuffed toy. Another expensive vet bill and animal control involved, that neighbor’s kid no longer comes to the house to play with our daughter. Not because we said.

We tried to name Buddy something else because I call everyone and everything buddy, but the name he came with stuck. It took a while for the cats to get used to Buddy. He enjoyed chasing them until each said enough of that. Buddy is now three. We think he lived alone with an elderly women for his first year. At his adoption, they said he came to them when his owner was moved into a facility. He didn’t eat dog food unless we added cheese to it. Andrew, the kids, and I discussed getting another dog to try to socialize him. But since we moved here, I had surgery on a broken with torn ligaments ankle and am still healing, if I’ll ever heal properly from that. I have other physical issues due to a genetic condition and a car accident, that make it difficult enough to walk Buddy. He’s a perfect lap dog, and sometimes he has a lot of energy. Since we have been here, the cats are now indoor/outdoor.

We have pet doors from the house to the screened in porch and to the five foot fenced yard. It’s a good sized patch on the last country dirt road in our little shrimp and flounderman turned touristy beach town. Buddy barks at everything that moves in our windows or outside our fence. Sometimes he rockets out the front door, but he’s usually comically easy to retrieve by opening a vehicle door, and saying, “let’s go for a ride!” But he’s onto us now.

Where my spouse works is a dog friendly environment. Honestly, the woods around the complex spit out dogs that hunters leave behind on a fairly regular basis. One tree hound is now the office mascot. Co-workers regularly adopt these otherwise well-trained dogs. A few months ago, Andrew texted me that a young guy he works with walked up to him and thrust a smallish dog into his arms, saying, “she’s yours now. We can’t handle her with the babies and our dog.”

I texted back: you know you shouldn’t have texted me.

And then he texted back: I know, but look at her, with a picture.

His coworker knows a sucker when he sees one. All the dogs that people bring into the building eventually wind up in Andrew’s office, even if they go home at the end of the day. So we adopted Sunni-D, “Sunny with an I!” named by the kids. I called the vet for an appointment even before he brought her home. It took an intensive 4 days of separate crates and taking one out at a time, during which we had human guests. We thought Buddy was going to kill her. On the fourth day, we let them out together and let them run around the yard, come what may. They tussled a bit, then got used to each other. Buddy watched how insanely needy and high-strung she is, and calmed right down over that first week or so. He still barks at the circling vultures, wind in the trees, and frogs on the screens, but has calmed down a lot. He gets it now, how nutty he acted.

All of this is just by way of introduction to the mayhem of the last 24 hours, onto Sunni and the current mayhem. She’s a little love of a beagle, and we think miniature pinscher, in mutt breeder parlance, a meagle. She’s alert at all times, if not actively running around. She has one endearingly floppy ear. It took the vet and I a couple of appointments to find she wasn’t microchipped - the young man who handed her to Andrew had stolen her from his neighbor’s abuse - was still quite puppyish, and she had what looked like could have been a spay scar, so we waited it out.

She went into estrus. Blood spots everywhere. This is what I’ve been dealing with for the past two weeks. Buddy is neutered, but she’s turned him into a little horn dog. I separate them at least four times a day. We have another elder neighbor on the corner who has four dogs, two little chihuahuas, one a black rough, the other a yellow smooth. They bark at and chase every car that comes up the entry street to ours, but largely return to their yard after they get it out of their system. The other two are a brown and white hound type, and an old yellow lab mix. We refer to the yellow lab as George’s Dog. He gets out from his eight foot tall enclosure all the time, no collar. My son usually walks him back when our dogs bark at him wandering in front of the house. Everyone in our little neighborhood is resigned to the fact of George’s Dog being loose and exploring. “There goes George’s Dog again.”

Well, usually our two dogs and one of the cats sleep in our bed with us. Two mornings ago, Buddy and Sunni leapt up and were barking like crazy at about four forty-five in the morning, in the living room. I don’t move so well or quickly, so Andrew got up to see what was going on, and there was George’s Dog fully engaged in sexual congress with Sunni - in the livingroom. Buddy was barking his face off at him, but seems to have finally figured out that he is, in fact, a tiny dog, so was not attacking George’s Dog. It was more like, “hey man, that’s my girl, get offa her!”

Andrew managed to separate them and get George’s Dog out of our house and yard. Then went about his usual get to work routine after closing up the house again. I spent yesterday separating the usual two, and George’s Dog was wandering outside the front of the house around dinner time again, so son brought him back to George. Last night, we crated the dogs, we closed the pet door into the house, and hoped for the best. They weren’t happy about the new arrangement, and we think both cats were in the house for the night. This morning, Andrew’s alarm went at his usual five forty-five, and the dogs started their usual run for the yard to do their morning business. They barked more than usual, Andrew went to see, and there was George’s Dog inside our locked and fenced in backyard waiting to court Sunni-D like a Cameron Crowe movie without the boombox serenade.

Son walked George’s Dog back to George’s house, who shrugged and apologized. We need to find out if he’s fixed, now that it’s a more reasonable hour and all of us humans aren’t contending with the barking mayhem while half-asleep.

Tempus fugit

Since writing above, I showered and came out to hearing our dogs barking out the front. No one knows how they got out. They must have seen George’s Dog climb our fence, and followed suit. I checked the gates and fence, no holes or slip points. Our little dogs have far more launchability than an old lab. This doesn't bode well for containing my usual mayhem at its prior level.

We have since found the breach, the crawlspace under the house has a couple of cracks in the critter barrier.

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Meanwhile, I have been working on a larger project that appears to be breaking into smaller, separate ones. Sometimes writing is a lot like corralling a pack of wild dogs and cats, and it makes puppies and kittens, short stories and poems. While I have been quiet here, note all of the above.

updated: 3 weeks ago