I try to avoid answering the front door when I can, but the knocking was insistent. I grabbed Brody, still attached to his permanent lead as insurance against his naughty behavior, and go to the door. It’s the woman who lives two doors down.
“Hi,” she says, eyeing Brody nervously. “I, um, have a dog in my backyard,” she said in the tone one might say, ‘I have a land mine in my yard,’ or, ‘I found Charles Manson hanging out by the pool.’ ” I was wondering if it was yours?”
“Nope,” I said. “Let me guess, though. Is it big and yellow?” She nodded. “I think I know who she belongs to.”
We have new neighbors in the house between us. They moved in last week with two big goofy labs, Tim and Sunny, who have already escaped twice through a gate that doesn’t latch particularly well. One time they were in my yard, one time down the street, and today the big guy stayed home while the girl wandered over to this canine-fearing neighbor. Their owners, of course, are not home. “She’s nice,” I reassured the lady. “I’m sure you can herd her back.”
She looked at me horrified. “I’m scared of dogs,” she said, looking at me pleadingly. And that is how I found myself hiking through the brambles in her backyard, barefoot (it’s San Diego, what can I say?) and wearing a sundress, yelling to the neighbor dog while this woman’s entire family huddled in the front driveway like refugees running from enemy soldiers. I call to Sunny. She looks at me nervously, then she actually scrabbled over a 5 FOOT CHAIN LINK FENCE back into her yard. This is no petite hound dog- she’s a Rubenesque 70 pound lab. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I never would have believed it.
So then I have to go into her yard to confirm she is OK on the other side, and that Tim is still there. I push on the gate, which swings open. The neighbor sneaks in and hovers behind me. I call to Tim and Sunny, who both come running around the corner like linebackers going for the tackle. I hold my ground. The neighbor squeals and runs away, leaving the gate wide open behind her.
You see where this is going, right?
Now both Tim AND Sunny are running around the cul-de-sac, chasing the entire screaming family in circles. I’m yelling at them, trying to coax them back in, but no dice. My kids, enticed by the noise and unable to maintain their good behavior past the 10 minute point, open our door to see what’s going on, and out Brody goes to join the chase.
Fortunately Brody is still on lead, so I’m able to grab him in passing and go back into their home yard with him in tow to use as bait. By now Tim and Sunny have tackled the small, Niles Cranes-esque husband on the sidewalk and, misinterpreting his squeals as happy ones, are attempting to drown him with slobber. I had to use both my kids AND Brody to entice Tim and Sunny back home, slamming the gate shut with a definitive crunch.
I know I need to let the owners know about this little event but I don’t know how much detail they really need to know. I doubt this little incident has done much to thaw the anti-dog sentiment in that particular neighbor’s house.