When in the Country, Reprise
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 distinctions.
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.
Additionally, 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 already are.
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 that?
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.
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.
And finally, 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."
He stammered 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.
He laughed 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.
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.
All animals 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.
The paw prints belong to a cat of some sort.
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.
This photo 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 tracks:
This photo shows the rear-on-fore gait of the animal, eliminating dogs, coyotes and wolves as the culprit and pointing squarely at cats.
As is 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 it.
A very self-righteous "city" thing to do, by the way. A very immature thing to do as well.
And … not to repay "good neighborly" malicious false accusation in kind, or anything … but just like someone who poisons the neighbors' animals with antifreeze.
Y'see, two can play your game, Mr "Good Neighbor".