What I Meant To Do-Responsible Neighbor



Last night it began to snow, and I knew by morning there would be about an inch on the ground.  I went to bed committed to the idea that I would be a good neighbor – I would wake up in time to clean off my stairs, and those of my elderly neighbors.  It was a solid plan.

Actually, plan is a stretch.  It was a thought.

I woke up to my son yelling “bye mom”.  I’m usually the one who makes sure he’s awake and moving, but this morning I was out cold.  It was still early enough for me to carry out my plan/thought.  It was 7:05, well before any of the neighbors would be out there.  Knowing I had time, I put my head back on my pillow, just for a few minutes.

I woke up an hour later to the undeniable sound of shovels on pavement.  While I can use the excuse that falling back asleep was an innocent accident, I can’t make the same excuse for what I did next.  I poured my coffee and climbed back into bed.   I stayed there, checking my email and perusing FaceBook until the sound of shovels stopped.


Now I was in a predicament.  I peeked out the window and saw that my neighbor had shoveled my sidewalk & my front stairs (grrrr…..can’t she just wait for a decent hour, like 10AM???).  To make matters worse,  I now had to walk my dog, which I usually do right past my neighbors house.  The same neighbor who was probably throwing her snow covered clothes into her dryer at that very moment.  Ugh.

My dog and I have become the talk of the neighborhood, because my cat follows us on our walks.  Everyone thinks I’ve trained her to do this but honestly, she only does it to torment the dog. She runs ahead, hides in a bush, then jumps on top of the dog.   The dog is blind in one eye and of course the cat comes at her from her blind side, landing square on top of her.   In the beginning the dog got really annoyed and growled at her.  Now the dog just waits till the cat falls off, and then walks away.  I imagine the cat is smirking as we walk on, content to know that she’d really pissed off the dog, even if the dog doesn’t acknowledge it.

This morning I was a too embarrassed to show my face, so I took the dog out back.

I got my dog from the SPCA when she was about 3.  It was clear that she had been abused by a male, which did not bode well for us because at the time I lived with my now ex (male) and 3 sons.  I spent the 1st week on the family room sofa with her because she was afraid to go anywhere else.  By the end of the 1st week she ventured into other rooms of the house and by the end of the 1st month she settled in.  Right by my side.  Always.  I can’t count the number of times I stepped on her before I realized I had to look down before taking a step.  She has been by my side ever since.  She has seen me through some rough times, always plastered by my side.

There are two things that will make her leave me – 1) is my daughter in love. Thank God there is at least 1 other person she trusts, and 2)  a really large dog.  If a large dog happens upon us she takes off like a bat out of hell and attacks.  Growling, snarling, nipping at the dogs legs and butts; she is a menace.  She first did this to a Pit Bull in PetSmart.  I’d had her for about a month and I felt certain I could safely take her out in public cause, well she weighs 13 pounds and never leaves my side, so how could it go wrong?  Within seconds of entering the PetSmart she took off, chasing down, then snarling and snipping at a rather large pit bull.  He politely stood there, wondering what was happening.  That was her last trip to PetSmart because there is one thing I am committed to:  not getting between her and a pitbull.

Wherever I take her unsuspecting dog owners approach us with their loving, playful Golden Retriever or Black Lab, excited at the opportunity for their baby to meet my  baby, and, ignoring my shouting “Back Off-She’s a Bitch” (wrong word perhaps?  Do they think I’m just shouting “she’s a girl”?) they always come right up to us, forcing me to get in between her and some large, innocent dog.  It is exhausting, scary and embarrassing, so I try to time her walks for an hour when other dogs won’t be out.

I guess if you really think about it, I was doing my job as a responsible dog owner staying inside until 10AM.  Most of my neighbors bring their dogs out while shoveling and, if I’d gotten up and joined them, my girl would have terrorized all of us.  That works, right?

Anyway, even though I was doing the neighborhood a favor staying in bed till 10, I wasn’t sure they’d see it that way, so I took my girl out back.  My townhouse backs up to some woods, but before the woods there is a lovely, flat space for neighborhood pets to run around in. When I take her out back I take her off her leash.  I’m not usually concerned about this because she doesn’t leave my side.  This morning she was doing her regular staying by my side when I sensed some movement in the woods.  I looked closer and saw a fox.

It is not unusual to see a fox around my area.  In my old house I had an entire fox family living under my shed.  Fox babies are adorable!  This mornings’ fox was the most beautiful  I’ve ever seen.  He was huge and really fluffy, no evidence of mange.  I saw him and I pulled out my phone, set it on video and pointed it at the fox. I  recorded him for about 10 minutes, sniffing at something in the dirt, running off, coming back, cleaning himself like a cat, sprinting off then back again.  When he took off for real I stopped the video. I went to look at the video, certain someone was going to pay me for such fabulous footage, only to find I’d never pushed the start button.  What I had was a video of my feet walking back into my house.

He eventually came back, and this time I made sure I hit the record button, and I did get some good footage of him.

I also lost my dog.

When the fox finally ran off for good I went back into the house and called for my dog. She didn’t come running, which was really unusual.  As I looked I realized it was unusual for her to not be under my feet.  I opened the back door and called for her and …. nothing. I figured she must be hiding in the house somewhere, but found here nowhere.

Can cats smile, because it seemed like she was really happy, thinking something like “finally, the bitch is gone”.

By the time I was certain she wasn’t in the house I was in a panic.  After all, I’d just been filming a large fox, and I can only assume said fox would be thrilled to eat said dog.  Before calling 911, which might have been frowned upon, I peeked out my front window, and there she was, sniffing around the driveway.  When I opened the front door she came running in as if nothing was amiss.  At least I think that’s what she looked like. Honestly, she really only has one expression.  It’s the expression that says “you feel guilty, right? “Had someone told me dog ownership meant being in a constant state of guilt I probably would not have become a dog owner.


Anyway, I was able to salvage my reputation in the neighborhood by sharing the video of the fox.  Who knows how many innocent dogs I’ve saved from this viscous animal?  Now all my neighbors know to keep their dogs close.

I think the case can be made that I should sleep in more often.  That is the lesson here, right?



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