When in the Country,
I'll have to
admit, Mr "I Want to Be a Good Neighbor", that you had me worried for
a while. First you came over
condescendingly announcing that our dogs had destroyed your newly-poured concrete
driveway. I was imagining deep furrows
in fresh, gray, liquid stone made by our two dogs, The Stupids, tear-assing
after a squirrel or rabbit unlucky enough to be out at the same time as they
were and which they spotted, eagle-eye as only dogs can do, in your brand new subdivision
sprouting obscenely in the soybean field across the private country lane from
our farmhouse — the same subdivision that is raising property tax rates for all
homes three miles in every direction and will force another batch of farms out
of existence. You probably won't notice
this side-effect, as it will come three, eight, seventeen years from now; most
self-centered jackasses don't notice such things, caught up, as they are, in
the self-righteous view that the world revolves around them and them alone.
You informed us that the cost of that concrete slab comprising but a small
portion of your driveway — possibly as much as ten feet by thirty feet square —
was $3,000. …which is what inspired me
to think there must have been deep furrows sliced through it. Mere paw prints would add character and charm
to the idyllic, bucolic existence you signed up for when you moved "to the
country" to get away from the city where your neighbors are constantly in
your face as you were in ours. Deep
furrows would instead need to "be jack-hammered out", as you informed
us your concrete contractor said was the only recourse … and implying that we
were somehow responsible to write you a check then and there to pay for. "It's dog prints," you said your
concrete guy told you … because "concrete guys" are notorious for
being experts in wildlife tracking.
Though I immediately doubted, in the extreme, the ability of your
"concrete guy" to know what the hell he was talking about insofar as
the identification of any paw prints was concerned, I would not have been surprised
in the slightest to learn that a dog — or two, or three — had run furrows
through unset concrete when tear-assing after a critter. We — I, and soon you — are in the country;
it's what happens. Get used to it.
But ours are far from the only dogs around, a point you steadfastly refused to
grasp despite my repeated efforts to inform you. For example, there's a blind chocolate lab living
at the house next to us which waddles to and fro and bumps into almost
everything in sight … as it were. She periodically
takes up residence in our garage when she's tired of waddling and needs to
gather the strength to find her way back home.
Because we are the good neighbors you claim to aspire to being, we let
her stay there for as long as she needs to.
If we hear her owners calling for her while she's drooling by the lawnmower,
we will go over and tell them that she's in our garage again and she's welcome
to stay unless she needs to get home and do homework or something. Then the neighbors apologize for the
inconvenience — which it isn't, by any stretch — follow us back to our garage
on the far side of our house from theirs, and we have a chat about how our
various children, our various gardens and fruit trees, or our various lives in
general are doing.
This, for your information, is what good neighbors do. What good neighbors do not do is ring the doorbell, then say " we want to be good
neighbors," and then immediately prove themselves to be liars by making
false accusations about the people and their dogs they just visited. These are subtle differences to citified
weenies, I realize, but you are now "in the country" and it's your
duty and obligation to learn to discern — and then abide by — those
As far as the other neighborhood dogs roaming the vicinity go, there are at
least three dogs living beyond the tree line on the far side of your house
which periodically parade through the soybean field you [and your various new
arrivals] are assassinating with your McMansion constructions. These dogs drive ours bonkers and our Stupids
bark their fool heads off for hours at the mere memory of the smell of these
interlopers wafting across the field.
One of your soybean field cohort has an old and arthritic yellow lab
which hobbles around whenever it finds itself having the energy to do so …
which also drives our dogs nuts. The guy
who bought the 80 acres of soybeans your subdivision is being obscenely built
upon, and from whom you bought your lot, and lives in its far corner has a thick-haired
mutt of some type which terrorizes all the dogs in a two square mile area …
including ours. This bully dog pals
around with three other dogs from among the houses in your obscene new
subdivision, dogs both large and small.
Our Stupids, if loose, will stand on our porch and howl about this pack
of dogs, having been beaten up by them too many times to do much else.
the folks two fields behind us have three, or maybe four, dogs of their own
which make their own daily tour of the entire neighborhood. The gray short-hair has killed at least one
of our hens; there's a hairy black mutt in the brood, a small schnauzer-ish mutt,
and they are sometimes in the company of a whitish, yellowish mutt. The first three are always together, the last
is only sometimes with them. But this
posse, also, traipses through the soybean field you are killing and are at
least as likely to have caused any dog print damage to your freshly poured
driveway as ours were. And that's not to
mention the sheltie-like dog, the shepherd-mix, the collie, and the two
indistinguishable mutts which live in that part of your obscene subdivision which
lies on the far side of the ex-railroad grade bike path.
These are all dogs that we see on a daily basis, free and loose and wandering
through the field that will become your yard, and does not include either those
dogs which only make occasional trips, nor the indigenous coyotes that you will
hear howling on a nightly basis when you finally take up residence in your
fancy-ass new house — howling usually between 11pm and 4am — in choruses of alpha
male-headed packs, or in the plaintive wails of forlorn single male coyotes
looking for a date. Frankly, I'd lay good
money that a "concrete guy" couldn't tell a coyote track from a dog
track under the best of circumstances let alone one where he was trying to
humor a self-important anal-retentive jackass whining about his concrete driveway.
But of course, since ours are the dogs that you see most frequently on
your thrice-weekly visits to your unfinished home merely because of their
proximity, ours are the only ones who could have possibly dug the furrows that will cause you to have $3,000 of
concrete shattered and replaced.
Second, I was puzzled and insulted by your insistence that you "grew up on
a farm", since you seemed to have no comprehension to my explanation that
dogs tend to keep coyotes away — coyotes will avoid confrontation at virtually
all costs with anything even remotely near their size. This includes adult humans, and loose dogs
bigger than a rat terrier. I've personally
chased away three coyotes from my property this calendar year alone, including
a pup which was bold enough [or desperate enough] to circle our house and pause
long enough to be photographed. The only
time the neighbors' dog from two fields behind us has gotten to our hens is
when our dogs were penned up. The only
time we've seen coyotes anywhere near [and this includes in the soybean field
you are murdering for your McMansion] is when our dogs have been penned up or
inside. If you "grew up on a
farm" as you [undoubtedly falsely] claimed, then you'd know this. It seemed, though, as if this were the first
time you'd heard such a silly thing. I
could see the idea churning it's slow way through your self-involved brain as
you stood uninvited on my porch slandering us with your hand out waiting for
our money: "Dogs keep coyotes away? How preposterous!"
It's not silly, Mr "I grew up on a farm, so I know all about it"; nor
is it preposterous. I find it offensive
in the extreme to be lied to. You
literally crossed the street to offend me by lying to me. I'm well aware that lying about such
trivialities is simply a symptom of the self-absorbed machiavellianism that
jackasses such as yourself display in great oozing gobs, but it's not a
"country" attitude. Simply
because you drove past a farm as a child — once — on a family vacation when the
interstate was closed due to a tractor trailer accident, and you stopped at a
farm stand for an apple while taking the detour, does not mean you "grew
up on a farm". My advice is that
you cease telling people this mendacity, and cease it immediately. We have enough liars as it is; unless you're
in politics, you don't need to become a bigger part of the problem than you
was our second meeting. We ran into you
once a few months back when your house was little more than a frame with
plywood sheathing. Two of my sons and I
had walked across the road to look at the [obscene] new construction killing
the country and the farm fields that comprise it, and you, your wife, and two
daughters showed up for one of your thrice-weekly inspections of the progress
on your house. You seemed very taken
aback by our presence, and despite us trying to be friendly to you, you were
having none of it. Yet you claimed when
you rang our doorbell that you moved to the country because you wanted the
country life and all that comes with it.
You can't have it both ways, pal. Dogs —
your own or the neighbors — are an inextricable part of that life, and I will
guarantee you that virtually everyone who lives within sight your house has
taken a tour of its construction; I've watched them do it. We have inspected virtually every new
construction in your obscene subdivision.
When my house was being constructed nearly 20 years ago, the folks
living within sight of it did the same thing, and then they told me about
it. As I write this, my dogs [penned up]
are going bananas. They are standing at
attention, facing the front of my property — facing your new neighborhood. Upon inspection, I see the two children from
your subdivision neighbor [the one with the old, arthritic yellow lab] crossing
the small plot of remaining soybean field between your house and theirs,
entering your property, and circling your house, peering in windows, and
bouncing around in that innocent way of children who don't comprehend the anal-retentive
territoriality of city-dwellers who hate the city and move to the country to
get away from it, only to recreate every city shortcoming in all its condescending
splendor, in the country. … the country,
which does not want self-righteous jackasses such as yourself moving to it and
changing it. We moved here to get away from
people like you. Why can you not respect
These kids' parents
have also inspected your house, as have the folks in nearly every house in your
subdivision. Your backyard faces my
front yard, after all; I have a good view of what goes on there. And you aren't in Kansas anymore. Learn it; live it.
Fourth, I was appalled by your declarations that "you
love dogs", that "you grew up with dogs", and that "our
dogs were quite friendly", but that you "didn't want our dogs on your
property". Why the hell not? Do you want coyotes wandering in as if they
own the place? …because they will. Do
you want raccoons and possums tearing through your garbage? I'll tell you right now the weekly garbage
pickups won't collect what's strewn all over your yard, and if the trash they
strew over your yard blows into ours [as the trade winds will most times dictate]
I am now inclined to pick it up and deposit it back in your yard for you. To this point, I collect all stray garbage
and put it in our trash can for the next weekly pickup, because that's another
thing good neighbors do, but I think now I'll make an exception … just for
you. You'll get your garbage back. And if it isn't your garbage, I'll just
assume it is, just like you assumed it was our dogs who destroyed your freshly-poured
Here's the thing, dimwit: If it's not our dogs, it'll be someone else's; this
is the country, in case it escaped your attention. It's dogs, or it's wildlife. It's not optional; it'll be one or the other,
and sometimes both. Among the wildlife
you will attract in a yard free of dogs, apart from the coyotes, raccoons and
opossums previously mentioned, are, in no particular order:
1] skunks, in abundance. They're always
welcome, aren't they? And when a feral
cat, bobcat, raccoon, possum, coyote, owl or other nocturnal skulker startles
them and they spray … you are now responsible for the month-long stench. Congratulations.
2] foxes. And since
your yard is separated from ours by maybe a 12' wide gravel track, if any of
the foxes that you invite into the
area by imposing your childish "lock up your dog" mandate wander over
and kill my hens, I think you will become responsible for the cost of replacing
the hens and the cost of replacing the eggs we can no longer sell because they
can no longer lay. …because they're dead.
3] more mice and voles than we strictly need to have. Voles live in farm fields, empty lots and
woods, and are inescapable to those who live in the country. Their numbers are kept in check by hawks,
cats, coyotes, foxes, owls and dogs. But
foxes are unwelcome around farms with poultry, and coyotes are unwelcome,
period. To replace the predation of
foxes and coyotes, you need dogs. Let's
hope you don't have anything that rodents like to chew on … which is just about
anything that isn't stone or steel.
4] groundhogs. No
animal causes foundation damage quicker than a burrowing groundhog digging a
nest next to your poured concrete foundation — and they will invite themselves. Their
hole collects rainwater and roof drainage, the water sits next to your concrete
and leaches out the lime below the above-grade tarring. Lime makes the concrete waterproof and hard,
and your foundation cracks decades before it should. I'm surprised a guy who "grew up on a
farm" doesn't know this about groundhogs.
5] deer. You explained how you were going to be
planting trees and that these trees may keep our dogs out of your yard — more
proof, as if any were needed, that you are clueless about dogs, Mr "I grew
up with dogs", and which would have caused me to laugh right in your face
were I not so incensed about your snotty visit.
Trees, especially young trees with thin, tasty bark, are what deer feed
on in the winter. Before I got a dog four
years after I moved here, I lost probably a hundred trees to deer.
…which is another of the reasons I concluded you bald-facedly lied about
"growing up on a farm". Seriously. You whined in greasy unction because our dogs
were peeing on the stakes in your construction zone and on the sides of your
house. Clue, moron: male dogs pee on stakes and walls [and car tires, and trees, and fence
posts, and anything else which stands upright], female dogs squat and pee on
flat ground; only one of our dogs is male.
This is how male dogs "mark their territory", which you'd know
if anything you claimed about growing
up on a farm with dogs were true.
How do you
think other animals know there a dog around and to steer clear of the area? They smell fresh dog pee, is how. You city jerks think you're seventy five
shades of slick, but you're simply un-inscrutable, utterly transparent,
ignorant, arrogant autocrats demanding the power to destroy everything you
touch, in an anti-Midas manner, by converting it into the same city you left
because you hate it. I'd ask how you can
be so stupid as to not comprehend the natural consequences of your imperious,
"good neighbor" demands will acquire you — and everyone else around
you — the very same conditions you moved into MY neighborhood to get away from … but you are a self-absorbed
ignoramus who didn't understand the question, and you obviously know too little
about the subject to answer it properly.
And lucky us: we have to deal with you from here on out.
I was not simply worried, but righteously pissed when I came back from checking
the barn for eggs later in the afternoon following your unwanted and sanctimonious
visit only to see a sheriff's SUV pulling up our driveway. I put the egg in the fridge and we came out
to the garage to see the deputy standing there shaking his head and rolling his
eyes as he introduced himself by saying, "You weren't perhaps visited by
the guy building a house across the road about your dogs, werya? He claims your dogs ruined his driveway, but
it looks more like raccoon tracks to me.
Now I don't want to be writing citations for these kinds of things —this
is the country. But it is a county
ordinance to tie up your dogs."
apologetically through his entire perfunctory "I hate this part of the job"
routine, and left after I expounded on the self-centered arrogance of the
jackasses who move to the country because they hate the city, and then do
everything they possibly can to turn the country into the same city they just
left because they hate it.
and conceded it was true; he walked back to his SUV, we went inside and
muttered extremely impolite things about the guy who professed to be a
"good neighbor" who will eventually move in across the private road
from us and demonstrate himself to be anything but a good neighbor.
But all that
was yesterday. This morning, my wife and
I were taking our weekly trip to the groceries [multiple groceries, yes, and another
thing you'll need to get used to in the country — weekly grocery runs], and she
suggested we stop by your subdivision and look at your driveway for
ourselves. So we did. We took pictures.
At first all we could see was pure concrete, smoothed flat at the edge of each
section, and ruffled in the center, just
so, the way anal-retentive city folk trying to turn the country into the
city demand it. "Had they already
jack-hammered it out and poured new? …in just over 13 hours?" I
thought. No, we would have seen and heard
that. I walked closer, finally crouched
down to get a close look, and there, barely discernable, were footprints of not-a-dog padding a gentle path across
the concrete and not even digging in.
They merely mar the striations of the finishing. The deepest indent might be as much as a millimeter,
and you need to catch the light just right, and from a very low angle, to see a
track of any sort.
At any rate, they are not dog prints.
That much is evident to anyone who has either "grown up on a
farm", "loves dogs", or "had dogs". Sorry to prove you [and your wildlife expert "concrete
guy"] to be liars and/or ignoramuses.
It's not even, as the sheriffs' deputy suggested, "probably
raccoons" — raccoons have opposable thumbs and 'coon prints look like very
small human hand prints. We googled many
animal prints upon our return from the stores.
Raccoons, possums, foxes, coyotes, skunks, woodchucks, … and finally dogs.
A dog's walking
gait is, in terms that I have suddenly and sadly found myself becoming familiar
with, a two-beat gait — two feet hit the ground simultaneously: left fore and
right rear, then right fore and left rear.
It's left and right feet form a single line of prints with clear
separation between individual prints on the center-line along the direction of
travel. A running dog has a four-beat
gait — all four feet hit the ground separately — with a hind- and fore-paw
landing parallel to each other and perpendicular to the direction of travel,
and the other hind- and fore-paw landing on a center-line and having separation. The footprints on the concrete driveway did
not display a dog [or coyote] gait pattern, either walking or running. A dog and coyote both have a heel pad with
two center toe pads far ahead, and a toe pad on either side, between the heel
pad and the two toe pads in front. Also,
the toe pads have a claw imprint ahead of each.
The prints on the concrete driveway had none of these
characteristics. Instead, the footprints
on the driveway had a heel pad with four toe pads in front, no claw marks, and
the rear paw prints nearly landed on the forepaw prints.
have claws, and all animal footprints display claw marks in one way or another
in their foot prints … except cats.
Cats' claws are retractable unless the cat is disfigured and cannot
retract its claws. Only when cats are
hunting or fighting [or sharpening] are their claws exposed. Furthermore, most cat species walk with a
rear paw landing nearly where the opposite forepaw just left. … just like the prints on the
"ruined" concrete driveway.
prints belong to a cat of some sort.
literally dozens of cats which roam the neighborhood at night, and they're mostly
feral. There may be bobcats as well — I
don't stay up at night with infrared 'nocs to look for them. Our own cat is nearly twenty years old and
barely moves anymore. Besides that, she
was injured about ten years ago when a coyote attacked her, broke her left foreleg
and mangled her paw, and she cannot retract her left forepaw claws. Any footprints she leaves would have one paw
with claws and three paws without. None
of the cat prints in the concrete have claws; ergo, apart from it not being our
dogs making the catprints, it was not our cat, either.
More evidence? A dog and coyote print
has a heel pad with two rear lobes; a cat's print has a heel pad with three
rear lobes. The prints in the concrete
show a heel pad with three rear lobes.
is the "desecrated" concrete slabs in question seen in a more/less
typical manner by someone whose eyes are about 66" off the ground and not
planted on the concrete itself — which is about what it takes to see any animal
shows most of the hideous damage that requires $3,000 to completely redo:
Yes, if you
squint real hard, you can see actual footprints in the smoothed-off edges of
each concrete slab. But only if you squint real hard. And crouch down.
shows the rear-on-fore gait of the animal, eliminating dogs, coyotes and wolves
as the culprit and pointing squarely at cats.
I had to
catch the light just right to see it at all.
The prints really are nearly invisible and cannot be seen at all from
most angles, which is what makes the whole visit by Mr "I want to be a
good neighbor" and his self-pitying, blame-laying, broadly-hinted-at
money-grubbing sob story so pathetic. If
there was a term that indicated a level of immaturity less than 'infantile' it
would apply to him.
And this one
shows the heel pad with a distinctive three-lobe rear, a rear paw landed nearly
on top of the forepaw, and there are two paw prints shown:
And … not to
repay "good neighborly" malicious false accusation in kind, or
anything … but just like someone who poisons the neighbors' animals with
evident in this last photograph, there is more surface "damage" from
air bubbles escaping the setting concrete than from animal tracks.
The unavoidable conclusion is that we were slanderously accused of being
responsible for a faux-desecration which we are not responsible for, and which
arguably didn't even occur. Can anyone
see damage unless they are sticking their face right down into the concrete
themselves? We couldn't. The only reason our "good neighbor"
could is because he wanted to. And then
he lashed out at the first people he could think of to falsely accuse of perpetrating
self-righteous "city" thing to do, by the way. A very immature thing to do as well.
Y'see, two can play your game, Mr "Good Neighbor".