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On Alienating the Neighbors

First of all, I think it's time I start vlogging, like Elaine does. Here's the practical issue, though: It involves looking good and it's usually 5am when I blog and I wouldn't want to scare anyone. I'll think about it as I research cameras.

As for neighbors, a couple of years ago I wrote about how my next-door neighbor's daughter, who is in medical school, visited her parents and brought a puppy (Izzy) from a pet store with her. Because she was very busy with finals, she left Izzy with her parents, who had never had a dog in their lives (she said it was a cultural thing–they're from Haiti and don't have the same relationship with dogs as we do in the United States, and having been to Haiti I know what she's talking about).

Needless to say, her parents keep Izzy in a tiny cage on their back porch day and night, as Izzy barks. They have no idea what she needs or what to do with her. I do my best to coach them and even walk Izzy with Violet, as she's an alpha dog and will show Izzy the ropes, which she did. But I didn't get very far.

Izzy's mom returns two weeks later, at which point I offer to buy her. We have the pet store/puppy mill conversation, we have the why-buy-a-dog-when-your-life's-only-getting-MORE-difficult conversation, we talk about a dog's needs, and she was remarkably receptive and educated about the needs of dogs and did seem to have thought things through. She declined my increasing dollar offers.

Of course, we had the discussion about her parents not being the optimal Izzy-sitters and their lack of interest in altering that status.

She left with Izzy and, I kid you not, her parents–my next-door neighbors whom I see every single day at least once–never spoke to me again. It became something of a joke as I would say hi to them just so they could think about the fact that they weren't saying hi to me. They moved out last week and didn't even say goodbye.

The most recent episode was a dad who is apparently teaching his 5-year old son how to walk one of their Goldens. Evidently, the dog dragged the boy and my neighbor (not next-door, luckily) beat the dog, in front of other people (who told me). And I mean beat. Punched, hard.

I wouldn't have guessed this guy would do this so I actually approached him and said, "You weren't the guy who beat one of your dogs . . ." And he was. And here's his explanation: "You don't have kids. You don't know what it's like to see your kid get dragged down the street, yada yada." (And by the way I've seen the boy since and I didn't see anything wrong with him.)

I was shocked, and suggested that perhaps a small boy shouldn't be walking such a rambunctious dog. It's not as if the dog was attacking the child. The dog probably doesn't even know why he was beaten.

Then I get the other line apparently meant to shut me up: "I've had dogs all my life," to which I of course wanted to say, "And you've been beating them all your life? So the longer you've had dogs the more license you have to beat them? What the heck is that about?"

Then he wants the name of the neighbor who told me the story. Like I'm going to tell him when he is so escalated.

He, by the way, is one half of the couple we actually liked. And his wife is a sweetheart.

Any suggestions? In his defense (not of the beating), he's a triathlete and takes the Goldens (they have two) for long (miles) walks and runs and I've never even seen him raise his voice at the dogs, his two small sons or his wife.

But he had not a shred of remorse and was quite indignant and felt–said–that beating the dog was justified.

Any advice?

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Advice? Sadly, no. The one neighbor I've had run-ins with is the guy who has threatened to "fucking kill" dogs who "shit on [his] lawn." He's targeted us by twice leaving other dogs' droppings on our step and glaring at us whenever he drives by. This, despite the fact we haven't even walked in front of his house in the last three years.

    As far as others that mistreat dogs? Last week we were walking and we passed a man and a German Shepherd. She was a little jumpy, so he made her sit as we went by and when she jumped up again, he whacked her on her snout and said (I kid you not), "BE GOOD!" How odd he himself was doing the exact opposite right as he was saying it…

    The biggest problem in our neighborhood is dogs who are left outside for long periods. They always look so lonely, like they just want to be inside with their family. Fortunately, there are also good neighbors who will bring treats by for the dogs and talk with them.

    July 29, 2009
  2. The reason he got so deffensive was because he probably knew what he did was wrong – that's what humans do. I think you did the best you could do, speak out for the dog and educate the humans. I am glad to see that most trainers nowadays recognize and teach that you should never yell or hit a dog, negative reinforcement is not only wrong but it doesn't work, especially when it is done after the action is completed. Same with children, it used to be ok to spank your kids, and now it is socially unacceptable…

    July 29, 2009
  3. Two things:

    First, beating a dog is often against the law. It sounds like your neighbor doesn't know that. You might want to check local laws by calling your animal control department. Then inform your neighbor about the law.

    Second, many dog trainers say positive training is more effective than negative training. Your neighbor seems to think beating is the only method to train a dog. A book or DVD about positive dog training might help convince your neighbor to use alternative methods.

    July 29, 2009
  4. Wendy #

    This makes me so sad 🙁 I'm glad you said something. Thank you.

    July 29, 2009
  5. I lost a neighbor as a friend just today for a similar issue.

    He went on and on for day's and day's about M. Vic and how he hated Vic etc.. Eventually, I approached him and said, its great he cares, but if he really cares, why not consider veganism?

    We ended up in a discussion that despite my best efforts went down hill, with him calling me names calling me weak etc… as, for example, I refused to accept his "I buy organic meat" defense. All of this happened over a few days of conversation, ending with him telling me no on liked me, and that I was a freak, and a bully etc… Honestly, I was nice as could be and this neighbor and I have been pretty cool in the past, like you said Mary, this episode was really out of character for him….but some folks like the poster mentioned above, I think, don't like to be confronted when they KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING IS WRONG.

    It was a sad day for me today as well, funny you'd make this post today.

    July 29, 2009
  6. I'm sorry stevetshirt that you went through that scene… Although I'm certain we've all gone through a variation of it – from those who "know" but choose not to act accordingly.

    In my neighborhood and billions across this country I always find it so amusing that each of us takes such care manicuring and preening our little patches of God's green grass. On any given day I can pull from my yard in one hand more than most (f)harmed aninmals will ever see in their lifetimes. Yet my neighbors all insure there are no weeds to spoil the perfect image of "civilization". HA!

    And speaking of pretty illusions, pretty yards and neighborhoods – what about this story… About a cow who was (legally) beaten to death; even possibly butchered while alive, all for the sake of a barbeque.

    When I first read this story – my mind pictured a third-world kind of place… trashed and rundown. Impoverished and ignorant. Not the case – this is an upscale, affluent neighborhood… Homes filled with respectable, successful and "decent" folks who disassemble cows on their newly installed sod… and drive their cars with rich, imported leather seats.

    Not the same people that Mr Rogers sang about in his neighborhood… not at all.

    I think Elaine's advice about educating this man might be helpful… Perhaps you could even film the boy in the act and show it to the father? — Maybe seeing it through a lense of objectivity might get through to him?

    Unless it's a severe, brutal beating though… I think you'd have a hard time presenting a case to the law. As long as it's for "training" and concerns the "safety" of the child… I'm very certain nearly anything goes. 🙁

    August 3, 2009

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