Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strange dogs in my yard

Liam the pug posing by a fence
Liam posing by the fence that (probably) kept our cats alive.
Even though the pug dog and I have lived in Salem for nearly four months, and I am home almost all of the time, I don't know many of my neighbors. Writing is a solitary profession that involves a lot of butt-in-the-chair work, and as a result, I don't get to canvass the neighborhood and meet all of the people and dogs around us. Most of the time, this doesn't bother me too much. I'm on a waving basis with people, and that seems to be enough. There are times, however, when it would be wonderful to know the ins and outs of the people living nearby.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Someone in my neighborhood owns two very large, very aggressive dogs, and from time to time, these dogs run wild through the neighborhood. The first time this happened, I'd been here for about 3 days, and it scared me to death. These guys are fast, and they're big, and they seem to have a deep hatred for cats. They chased poor Jasper underneath the deck, and they stayed in the yard until I banged on the windows.

A month later, it happened again, with much the same result: I am screaming, the cats are hiding. After that little interlude, my husband put up a fence to keep dogs out of our back yard. It's about 3 feet high, so the cats can jump over, but we hoped we wouldn't have to find out if dogs could do the same.

Yesterday was the big test.

Both Beorn and Jasper came flying around the corner, up and over the fence, and here came the same two dogs. Neither of these dogs jumped the fence. They did spend a significant amount of time looking at the fence and preparing to jump, however, and I think they might just sail right over it next time. Yesterday, since they couldn't come back to attack the cats, they entertained themselves by chasing neighbor cats up and down the street, attacking crows at the bird feeders and running up and down the sidewalk. They left only when I yelled and pounded on the windows.

Normally, when strange dogs come into my yard, I visit the owners later. I tell them that I have cats, as well as my own dog, and I need their dogs to stay out of my yard. The conversation isn't always pleasant, as many people seem to believe that they can let their dogs do whatever in the world they'd like to, but if I stay firm, I can get people to see my point of view. If they walk away thinking I'm a dictator, I'm okay with that, as long as their blasted dogs stay off my property.

Since I have no idea who these dogs belong to, my choices are limited to:
  1. Building a taller fence that keeps all cats in and all dogs out
  2. Calling dog control
  3. Using an air horn or pepper spray to break up an attack 
None of these options are good. I don't like to have fortress-like fences standing between me and my neighbors, and a fence like this won't protect me (or Liam) if we're in the front yard. I also don't like to call dog control, as dogs that are picked up might never be reunited with their people. Similarly, I don't like to retaliate, but these dogs are so damn aggressive that an attack on a human isn't out of the question, and I'd have to do something if they came after me. The cats are hard to catch, but if these dogs ever managed to trap one of our cats, pepper spray might be less painful than the injuries a cat can inflict. Blindness, tongue lacerations and bites wouldn't be out of the question. If they escaped unscathed but our cats died, those dogs wouldn't escape punishment, and dogs that kill other pets are often killed by animal control. It's sad, but it's true.

The best option? Someone in this neighborhood needs to keep their damn dogs under control. But until I can figure out who owns these dogs, I have no idea how to make it happen.