Way way back at the end of the summer, I took Our Best Friend out in the yard, and instead of trotting to the hill to do his thing, he attacked the hedge between our property and the one next door to the east (hereafter referred to as “The Attached”). I thought there had to be some animal up there, maybe a squirrel, or a small bird… instead he came out holding a huge chunk of bread in his mouth. It was so large it filled his whole mouth. He dropped it on the ground, grabbed it back before I could get it, and then– GULP– it was gone.
Bread, as far as I know, does not migrate. It does not walk. It has no independent means of locomotion to get it from the house to the back yard. I could only come to one conclusion: someone (most likely someone from The Attached, but, to be fair, it’s also possible some random kid slipped through the gap in the fence and wandered through the yard) had put the bread in the hedge.
To me, this behaviour is so bizarre I cannot fathom the rationale behind it. Feeding the birds? Strew it on the ground. Hiding it from the parents? Stick it in the garbage under the chicken bones. Instead, it became an unexpected snack for my overweight dog.
It’s all part of the neighbourhood.
There are at least 50 or 60 children ages 0-18 on our block, more if you add in the 18-22 crowd still at home. Eighteen of these children live on either side of me, nine per side. (Well, seventeen now, as The Attached married off a daughter in August.) They run around, play street hockey on occasion (which gives me heart failure, as it’s a busy two-way street, not a suburban cul-de-sac), and the ones to the west (hereafter called Next Door) recently put a trampoline in the back yard. (It was non-stop noise for three days, and they’ve barely touched it since.)
My two neighbours have superficial similarities and wide differences. Both, as I said, have nine children. Both are of Moroccan ancestry. And neither family cares much for our dog. Well, to be fair, some of the kids have expressed interest (Next Door has an 18+ son who has friends with dogs, and he likes Our Best Friend), but the parents could do without him. Especially, I supposed, The Attached, who can hear him barking through the walls.
Although Next Door has good reason to dislike him too. A few months after we got him, my girls were playing with him in the back yard. They took their eyes off him for a minute, and he bounded through the hedge to join Next Door’s kids, who were playing with a ball, the ultimate OBF magnet. Next Door’s kids, both under age five, were not amused. They screamed in terror, and OBF, in a clumsy attempt to play, jumped on one, leaving a minute scratch on his back. I apologized up, down, and sideways, and the mother Next Door was very gracious about forgiving us, but I felt sick about it for months. Now OBF almost never goes in the back off-leash, which is so sad, as he loves chasing a ball up the hill and down again.
I get along with both my neighbours; I consider an important survival technique. In a neighbourhood like this, where you share schools and classmates and community events, it’s much harder to ignore those you would rather not know. I’m grateful they don’t complain about the barking, and remain cordial and friendly in spite of their canine misgivings. And as long as it’s only bread, and not poisoned hamburger meat, I’ll overlook the little gifts I find in the backyard and hedge.