Good Fences Make Good Neighbors Part II

They finished installing the fence yesterday, and it's wonderful.  Our dogs are in, other dogs are out, and my toddler can run like the wind.  I think we'll all be happier and more relaxed.  As an added bonus, I'll be able to put in nice flower beds the dogs won't dig up, and we can put in some more birdhouses and bat boxes to help control the mosquitoes.  So many possibilities! SONY DSC

Last November I wrote a post about how nice it would be to have a real fence in our lot to help control our bark-y beagles, Doc and Wyatt.  Because of our home owner association restrictions, we had an invisible fence installed for them.  But, with our track star-in-training toddler racing about, and the other neighborhood kids and dogs that gravitate to our yard, we really needed a true barrier.  This became all the more apparent over the past few months as I had to return multiple dogs to their proper homes because they'd wandered into our lot, and if our dogs were outside at the time, into a scuffle.

After a few months of negotiating and planning the installation, the need for a fence became more pressing when a neighbor sent her ~8-year-old child over to break up a fight when her dog came into our yard and mixed with our dogs in a canine version of West Side Story.  While I was trying to break up the fight, keep her kid from getting bit, and make sure my toddler wasn't running into the street or getting involved, the owner of the wayward dog climbed into her van, drove half a block down the street, and watched the action from her car.  Honestly, the whole situation scared the you-know-what out of me.  I had heart palpitations for the next hour just thinking about what might have happened.  And I really wish I could say that it was an isolated incident, but, unfortunately, in the past two weeks, there have been 5 other unleashed, wandering dogs in our lot that weren't supposed to be there.  I've felt trapped in my own house, having to see who and/or what is in my yard before we can go outside.  It's frustrating!

Yes, my dogs will bark if you come onto my property.  Yes, they will gang up on a dog that invades their territory.  Yes, they will growl when your kid shoots them with a water pistol.  That is what dogs do (and don't even get me started on the kids with water guns - I've become an old curmudgeon, I'm afraid).  You can have the nicest, most pleasant pup on the planet, but that doesn't matter to my dogs.  Or me.  I can't risk my dogs or child getting hurt because of it.  I just can't.

My view isn't a popular one.  And I know I've ruffled some feathers already this week by expressing a toned-down version of it.  But, now the fence is in!  And it really doesn't matter what it's walling in or walling out, as long as it does its job.  I whole-heartedly agree with Robert Frost: Good fences make good neighbors.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall..."  I haven't fully appreciated Robert Frost's Mending Wall until this week.  It's one of my favorite Frost poems, and I've read it enough that the spine of my Great American Poets:Robert Frost automatically falls open to it.

"But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,/To please the yelping dogs..."

If you've been following the blog from the beginning, you know all about our Barking Beagles.  They are great guard dogs: no moving object is safe.  Strangers, other dogs, birds, cars, leaves, grasshoppers, clouds...if it moves, we know about it.  And that's great when we want guard dogs...but not so great when the UPS guy is trying to deliver a package or they're outside for a 2 am potty break.

"Oh, just another kind of outdoor game..."

On Sunday, we came home to find a bunch of neighborhood kids riding dirt bikes, four wheelers, bikes, etc. in our side lot...and an unleashed dog running around.  And while I'm all for kids playing outside, three things bother me about this: 1) no one asked us if it was okay to use our property; 2) no parental supervision anywhere; 3) I planted fig trees over the summer, and I'm pretty sure that they didn't survive the assault-on-wheels.  Perhaps I'd be less grumpy if we were asked 'please?', not worried about having to make sure other people's kids were being safe, and my poor figs weren't maimed.  Oh, and if I wasn't concerned that a random unleashed dog would run over to our property and try to fight our dogs.

"...like an old-stone savage armed..."

Maybe I'm cantankerous.  Have I become the cranky neighbor who just wants to be left alone?  I don't know.  I think I'm just a fan of coming home and being able to relax in my own space.  I'm sure that if we were allowed to have fences in our development - nice cedar privacy, no-peeking fences - things would be...more pleasant.  After all:

"Good fences make good neighbours."