Ahhhh – life in the suburbs: Tree-lined streets, kids playing in the yards, people waving as they take their evening stroll, dogs attacking your car as you drive home from work….
First up – I LOVE dogs, adore them and when it comes to dogs I think that bigger is better. We have a dog – a large, old mutt named Mac. I’m also a fastidious dog-owner. Even though he hardly ever leaves our yard I keep him leashed when we’re not in the backyard because that’s the right thing to do (my husband – notsomuch. We argue over this all the time). Mac hardly barks and if he does when he’s outside we are quick to shush him. We are never caught without a waste bag when we are out on walks.
However, we have this neighbor on our street who is a terrible dog owner… let’s call her Miss Cray. She has a large lab and we have suffered many, many nights of Blackie (the dog’s real name) barking non-stop for hours. Some of these nights have been bitterly cold and my heart breaks for him out there in the cold at 2AM. I have, on one occasion, called the non-emergency police line to report a noise disturbance. About a year ago Blackie started getting out of his fenced yard to roam (and crap in) the yards on our street. Tensions on the street escalated last summer when Blackie got loose then charged and bit a neighbor. He was quarantined and his owner was cited but he was given back.
A normal, responsible dog-owner would have worked on this issue…training classes, no unsupervised yard-time, etc. But not this lady. Miss Cray did nothing and Blackie continued to escape; he also got more aggressive. About a month ago I noticed a neighbor walking down our street while I was out front with Mac. He and his kid crossed to the other side before they got to our house – in talking to him he thought Mac was the aggressive dog! Mac, the 14 year old lazy mutt who has barely every growled at anyone in his life, was getting a bad rap because of Miss Cray and her lack of dog owning skills!
Fast forward to last night. I was driving down the street and noticed that Blackie was out in his front yard and Miss Cray was there, too. When I got near their house Blackie ran out into the street and I slammed on my breaks – coming inches from hitting him. Miss Cray was standing in her yard, watching and picking up sticks, and had no reaction. Blackie was at my front bumper barking and snarling so I rolled down my window and shouted at her to come get her dog. She stayed in her yard, calmly calling “Blackie, come here”. When the dog saw my window down he came towards it, still growling and barking. I tried to go forward and he lunged towards my wheel. I slammed on my breaks and shouted “Come get your dog! I don’t want to hit it!” She stayed in her yard, continued to pick up sticks and casually told me to just go “he’ll be fine!”. Every time I tried to move, Blackie would either lunge at my tire or jump in front of the car. Miss Cray did nothing…NOTHING! She stood 20 feet away from my car, watching her dog aggressively try to attack my car and kept telling me to “just go…he’s fine!” I shouted “I’m not going to hit your dog! Come get him out of the street!” This back and forth went on for about 6 minutes when a car came from the other direction and Blackie turned his aggressions on it.
I took my opening and moved forward only for Blackie to chase down my car. I didn’t want to turn into my driveway, not knowing if the kids were in the backyard, I didn’t want this Cujo to follow me onto my property. After a few minutes of him lunging and barking at my door as I stayed on the street in front of our house, he finally got distracted and trotted off. This whole time Miss Cray watched from her yard across the street.
I went inside, shaking from the encounter, and told Mark what happened while I called the non-emergency police line to report a loose and aggressive dog. The dispatcher told me “we know that dog – I’ll send a patrol car over.”
I watched as Blackie went from yard to yard, up and down driveways and slipping into backyards across the street. I watched as he got right up to my neighbor’s window and barked at their cat inside. I watched as he crapped in someone’s yard. I lost sight of him so I went outside on our driveway– when the police got here I wanted to be able to tell them where he was. The second Blackie saw me he charged. Luckily he was far enough away for me to get inside before he got to our yard. Remember: Miss Cray is still in her front yard, witnessing all this and doing nothing to get Blackie under control.
I have never, ever been afraid of a dog in my life, but seeing that 70 lb. lab charge at me while snarling terrified me.
Fed up, Mark went outside to confront Miss Cray and help her catch Blackie. The kids were all riled up and watching from the front window. As he walked down the street calling for to get control of her dog Blackie shot down a neighboring driveway towards Mark. Miss Cray slowly walked over and told Mark to calm down because he was scaring her dog, that Blackie was being aggressive because Mark was shouting. Miss Cray, once again, didn’t make a single move to grab Blackie’s collar to get any control over him. He was growling and lunging towards Mark – cornering him against our neighbor’s house. Miss Cray refused to get within arms-reach of Blackie; she was afraid of her own dog! We were all watching as Blackie lashed out and bit Mark in the leg.
Mark kicked at the dog (he didn’t make contact) and Blackie ran off, away from their house; Miss Cray walked off after him. I called the police back to tell them that the loose dog had bitten Mark but he wasn’t injured (Blackie had gotten a mouthful of khaki; luckily he didn’t break Mark’s skin). A patrol car rolled up after Mark came in the house. I went out to tell them what happened and they said they had 5 calls about the dog just that evening. Other neighbors came pouring out of their houses to tell what they had experienced with Blackie.
Then a fire engine, lights on, pulled up. I looked at the cops “do you know what that’s here for?” I asked and they shrugged. Turns out they were there for Mark. Apparently, they had gotten the report of a dog bite. I was mortified! I felt awful as I watched those guys pile out of the truck with their medical gear and walk towards our house. I explained what happened, that the dog got Mark’s pants but not his skin…they were so nice as they took down the report, checked out Mark’s teeth-punctured and torn pants then graciously showed Madman their truck.
A moment later an ambulance rolled up. Again, I was horrified that all these 1st responders were on our street! They conferred with the firemen and decided not to take another report. We were chatting about all the craziness of the evening when one of them looked over my shoulder and said “is that the dog?” Miss Cray was strolling down the street with Blackie finally on a leash like nothing had happened.
As the cops talked with her she denied that Blackie ever got out, saying that this was the 1st time and that it was only because her landscapers left the fence gate open. Too bad there are dozens of calls to the contrary. Oh yeah, and that bite last summer.
The cops cited her and called the Animal Warden. As of today, Blackie was still at the house (unsupervised in their back yard, of course). As a dog lover I’m torn about the idea that might be put down. I’m angry at Miss Cray for letting this happen. Dogs aren’t like that by nature, they get aggressive due to negligent dog-owners. But I also hate feeling trapped in my house because I’m worried about Blackie getting out and ending up in our back yard with my kids.