Note: This post refers to my now ex-wife, and her other ex-husband, now deceased. I’ve left the references in place because updating those references would interfere with flow of the story.
This is a photo of our neighbor’s dog. Her name is Raley (rhymes with Staley).
A couple of weeks ago, it was a beautiful Flagstaff afternoon, and we were trying to enjoy our new patio, cook a dinner on the grill, and eat outdoors. But Raley kept barking at us. Not just us, but at anything that caught her attention.
I’m pretty sure she was just lonely and anxious. But she prompted a discussion between all of the adults on our side of the fence.
Should we move indoors? Should we try to enjoy ourselves anyway, and not let the dog force us to change our plans? Should someone try to calm Raley down with some softly spoken words at the fence?
There were three adults in this conversation: my wife, her ex-husband, and me. The ex and I were lamenting the loss of civil neighborly communication on our society. We groused that, for many people, the first course of action would be an escalation of some kind, such as calling the police.
We weren’t that kind of people who would do that, dammit.
In fact, if the tables were turned, we said, we’d appreciate knowing if one of our neighbors was being disturbed by our dog.
Furthermore, we wouldn’t mind it at all if, in our absence, a neighbor were to take matters into their own hands to keep our dog quiet, provided it were done in a caring way.
So, over my wife’s dissent, we decided that the right thing to do would be for me—me — to climb the fence, offer Raley a piece of sausage, and throw it through the doggie door. Once Raley was inside, I’d block the door with something to keep her inside.
Our hearts are in the right place.
What could go wrong.
I’m not afraid of dogs, really. Everything went as planned. I climbed over the fence. Raley was very interested in the sausage, and not particularly bothered that I was in her yard. Raley went through the doggie door after the sausage as though she were in on the plan.
I grabbed a folding patio chair off my neighbors patio, and returned to the doggie door to use the chair as a barricade. And there, watching me from inside, was my neighbor.
She’s a college student. She’d just come home.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
Suddenly this seemed like a really stupid plan.
I explained our predicament, and how we’d thought it all through, and were convinced it’s what they would have wanted us to do.
Finally I asked, “Do you mind if I just get out of your yard now, and climb back over to my side of the fence?”
Please don’t hate me. I’m really a very good neighbor. If I were a dog, my tail would have been between my legs.
A week later, Raley was watching us in silence from her side of the fence. An almost creepy, stalker-like silence.
We noticed that Raley was wearing a no-bark collar. I’m not sure whether I should feel celebratory or remorseful. I did, after all, get what I wanted. I’m just not sure if I got it the right way, or if it was the right solution to the problem.
I tried to imagine the dog adjusting to this new collar.
Woof! Ouch! Woof! Ouch! What the bark is this?
I’m actually trying to feel bad about it. But, damn, the peace in my backyard today sure has been nice.