Why Dogs and Food?

Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Very Eventful Sunday Afternoon

You do not wake up one morning a bad person. It happens by a thousand tiny surrenders of self-respect to self-interest. ~Robert Brault

Well, there we were, having a peaceful, rainy Sunday afternoon indoors. We were enjoying a movie and I was baking homemade herb bread.

Brian took the dogs out front to go potty as we regularly do. He came in to tell me he had no bags to pick up their poop (truth is he really didn’t want to get all dressed and go out in the pouring rain). So, because I have rain gear always readily available, I told him I would do it. I put on my rain boots and hat, sloshed out to the front lawn, and began to scoop the poop.

Meanwhile, one of our neighbors (a guy who lives next door) is standing on the walkway behind me and when I turn around, he confronts me. He said: “I was wondering if someone was going to pick up the poop because I saw your dogs go and it has been about 5 minutes and no one came out to pick it up!" So, I said: Well, I guess you can stop wondering now because here I am and I am picking it up!

Now, here's a little history on this guy (and why I responded that way to him):

He lives alone in a studio apartment next door, always leaves his blinds open - day and night - and has a part-time dog named Dexter. He once told me he loves dogs but doesn't have time to have a full-time dog so his girlfriend’s dog stays with him from time to time. Dexter barks like hell at every dog that passes by. However, once Dexter is outside and able to socialize with Walter and Henry, he is quite sweet and friendly. I guess he just doesn't like being inside all the time looking out his sliding glass door windows and seeing Walter and Henry frolicking about. This neighbor has confronted us in the past about Walter or Henry getting “too close” to his apartment because he said he is “all windows” (that is what he said) and his part-time dog goes crazy when our dogs prance about outside. This is an apartment complex where all tenants have their own outside entrance and all units have big, sliding glass doors with blinds. As I mentioned, this guy never, ever closes his blinds. We all share the property so no one really has their own front or backyard. It is common space for anyone who wants to walk through it. I always try to steer Walter and Henry away from Dexter’s line of sight when we are out and about the property but it is not always possible. Dexter just likes to bark.

Then, some weeks later, this same guy approached me about the dog poop he sees on the ground and one late night, when I was taking the boys out for a potty run, he came outside and asked me if I knew I had to “bag the poop” after my dogs went potty. Hmmmm. I was standing there, with a handful of plastic bags in my hand, pondering that question. Did I know I had to do this? I smiled and said, yes, I’d heard about that rule. He told me he’d thought about putting up a sign in the yard - I guess just in case other dog owners were not aware that they were supposed to clean up after their dogs.

He confronted me several times after that night. It seems that he is always waiting, like a spider waits for fly to get caught in its web. Then he jumps out of his fish-bowl house - right on cue - to discuss doggie potty etiquette with me. This part-time-dog owner-have-never-seen-him-walk-Dexter-once guy is obviously an authority on cleaning up after one’s dog! And he feels the need to enlighten me at least once a week.

He actually stood there in front of me and pointed to some random poop on the ground and asked me if it belonged to my dogs. I tried to be as polite as possible (ah-hem) and told him that all the poops on the ground weren’t exactly labeled and I didn’t think it fair to assume that ALL the unscooped-poops belonged to Walter and Henry. There are tons of dogs going through our front walkway all day long. Besides, I picked up after them, remember? Was it possible a rogue poop was left by one of my boys without my knowledge? Yes, I suppose in the dark of the night, it was possible. So, I picked it up. No big deal. Not only do I always pick up after my dogs, I often pick up ODP (other doggie’s poo) if I come across it while cleaning up after Walter and Henry. I am always armed with lots of bags – every single jacket I own has plastic bags stuffed in the pockets. I am a very conscientious poop-picker-upper! So, needless to say, this guy was beginning to irritate me.

So, anyway, back to what happened today.

I asked him: Do you just sit and wait for me to take my dogs out so you can come out to discuss the pooping habits of my dogs with me every time they come out here? I then reminded him of our previous conversations on the matter and told him, once again, that I always pick up after my dogs and his scrutiny and accusations were getting insulting. It could be any number of dogs in our complex but he has obviously decided to blame my dogs. He pointed to yet another random poop close by his apartment and told me to look at it! Was this guy for real?! Next thing I knew, he was looming over me. And he is a big dude. He pointed his finger in my face and proceeded to yell at me, telling me he is trying to rent his apartment because he will be moving out soon and he was sick and tired of seeing dog poop on the ground! He wanted this place to be cleaned up at all times and just because I was slovenly – yes, he called me slovenly – that everyone else around us should not have to be subjected to it! I was dumbfounded. I told him he needed to calm down and chill out and that he was totally overreacting. Then I told him he needed to stay out of my face when he spoke to me. He stormed off through his sliding glass doors, yelling to me that he would report me to the property management. Huh. That was bizarre.

When I came back in the house, I told Brian about the confrontation. I had told Brian about this guy several times before but this time, he was angry. He wanted to defend my honor and said he was going to go over and tell this guy to stop intimidating me. I really did not want Brian to confront the guy and told him to forget it. If you know me, you know I can pretty much hold my own - but Brian decided to go over and talk to the guy anyway.

I walked out on the deck to look over at the neighbor’s house as I could immediately hear raised voices as the guy opened the door. It was as if the guy was somehow expecting to see Brian. Next thing I knew, there was yelling and then a fist fight broke out! Brian was soon on the ground with this guy, rolling in the wet, muddy lawn. I was so alarmed that I didn’t know whether I should call the police or go out and try and break it up. Being me, I did the latter. This guy was a lot bigger than Brian - and younger - and I was scared to death that Brian would be be badly injured. I started screaming to them to stop it and with adrenaline pumping, actually tried to come between them to pull them apart. I was shaking like a leaf.

Finally when they broke apart, Brian came up on the front steps. His shirt was ripped and he was all muddy and looked stunned. The neighbor guy was relentless – he still would not back off! He began yelling at me again and calling me names and he was still carrying on about the dog poop! I could not believe this was really happening.

I finally convinced Brian to go back inside. I tried to remain calm even though my heart was pounding so hard I thought it would jump out of my chest and hit this crazed neighbor in the face! I told the guy he was out of control over a little dog poop and yet he continued to yell. He was on fire. I told him to go home and he finally began to walk away, ranting all the way. I think I am still in shock that all of this even happened.

In the meantime, Walter got so scared by all the commotion that he ran across the street. Some really nice people who happened to be walking their dog, grabbed hold of his collar until I was able to get across the street to retrieve him. When I came back in the house, I saw that Brian's leg and arm had bruises and he complained that his ribs hurt. It was quite alarming to say the least.

A few minutes later there was a knock at our door and it was two cops. They asked us what happened and we explained the chain of events. I had not had the chance to call the police but apparently another concerned neighbor did and so here they were. After we told the police what transpired, they asked Brian if he wanted to press charges. Brian was inclined to do just that but I talked him out of it. This is why: I was afraid that if this crazy dog-poop-obsessed neighbor was handcuffed and hauled off to jail, he might cause further trouble for us or hurt our dogs once he was released. I was horrified that it had come to this! So, Brian agreed not to press charges. I just want this to be behind us and hopefully this guy will move out soon.

Later, I was very cautious when I took the dogs out front to go potty. I had them on the leash to be sure they would not wander over by his door. I did not need to see this guy again so soon.

All of this over a little dog poo? Seriously?

I guess one never knows what might happen on an otherwise ordinary, rainy Sunday afternoon in March. Seriously.


Susan Campisi said...

OMG, Liz! That's terrible! This guy is really f**king crazy so you and Brian need to be very careful. Of course I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Is Brian okay? How scary. I'm very glad to hear this guy is moving out. Let's hope it's soon. I feel sorry for his dog. On a positive note, I was riveted by your story. Your writing is excellent. And you are so Tommy G! But even Tommy G has to be careful around nut cases.

Liz Berry said...

Yes, I did feel the Tommy G in me coming out.....but you are right - even Tommy G has to be careful and I will be extra cautious until either he moves or we do.

Unknown said...

Sweetie, that is one scary story. Stay away from that nut job at all costs. He is dangerous. And you are still feisty! Love you. Lysie

Liz Berry said...

Have not seen hide nor hair of the guy since...I have been notified that he will be moving out by end of this month. Yes, he is not all there. Good riddance.

claire said...

Is he gone yet? God, I hope he moved.
After working in a mental hospital for 18 years, I'll admit it, I'm really sick and tired on crazies.

Liz Berry said...

He's gone! YAY! No more icky neighbor man. It's peaceful now!