Obsession.. Doggy Style

doggy style

When I moved into my new house, I made a concerted effort to get to know the neighbours.  To be honest, most of them made it pretty easy. I moved in just before Christmas and there were several cards in the letterbox welcoming us to the street and wishing us a happy festive season.

On one side I have a “hello, how are you” relationship with the neighbours.  They are a lot younger than I am, they both work (as do I) and I only see them from time to time.  Also, I did ask them if they could do something about their tom cat beating the living daylights out of my poor cat at every opportunity.  This may be dampened relations somewhat.  On the other side there is a retired couple.  They were very welcoming from the start.  They invited us in for afternoon tea and there was general chit chat over the fence whenever we were in our respective backyards.

Right away Betty*  was very friendly, particularly towards our dog.  She would say hi to the dog, pat her through the fence and occasionally throw over a bone.  The dog, needless to say, loved this extra attention.

One day I came home from work to see a brand new dog toy in the yard.  And then a couple of weeks later, another.  When I queried this, Betty said “oh I hope you don’t mind, I just thought Spot might like something to play with”.  I thanked her and insisted she needn’t bother.  I thought it was a kind of nice thing to do.  But then it started happening more frequently and it made me feel a bit uncomfortable.  Betty started commenting on how hard it was for the dog when we were at work and school respectively.  It felt a little judgey but I let it slide.

When we went away for a week, I asked Betty if she would feed the cat and she readily agreed.  She went on to say she wished she could take care of the dog for us but it was too much for her and her husband.  “Of course!” I exclaimed.  “I hadn’t even considered such an imposition”.  I had, but she’d made herself very clear on that front.

And so the little gifts for the dog kept arriving. One day I noticed a new blanket, then a new dog bed.  It was starting to get out of hand – at first it had felt like a neighbourly kindness but now it felt like she was suggesting our dog wasn’t being properly looked after.  Once, when I was at home sick I watched her climb over the fence into my backyard with yet another toy for the dog.  When I went outside to ask what she was doing she claimed to be deeply embarrassed, that she never usually did that, that she just wanted to bring a toy that her dogs didn’t want.  Oh, that’s right.  I forgot to mention.  She has TWO dogs of her own. Every time she brings something over she says her dogs didn’t want it.  She also has a husband, two grown up children and four grandchildren.  So she isn’t lonely or isolated.

From time to time I would come home and see the dog’s bedding hanging on her line.  I was going to say something, this felt like boundaries were being blurred, but I figured she thought she was helping and I didn’t want to cause any issues.  She’s our neighbour after all.  So I simply thanked her

But things started to turn slightly sinister about 3 weeks ago.  I was admonishing the dog for taking my pegs, yet again, when suddenly Betty appeared at the fence and said “hello Alice” in a low and menacing tone.  As though she’d caught me beating my kids or something.   (I should mention here I wasn’t beating the dog either, simply yelling at her to “drop the pegs”).  I felt like she was going to report me to the RSPCA or something.

A week or so later when I was checking the doors at bedtime, I noticed the dog’s bedding strewn across the back porch.  And I couldn’t find the dog.  I glanced next door and the dog’s blanket was hanging on their line!!  It had been in the dog’s bed only an hour or so before.  When I mentioned this to my mother, expressing my increasing concern, she said that sometimes dogs pull their beds apart.  When I queried as to whether they then sometimes take their bedding and hang it on the neighbour’s line, she admitted no, they do not.  Clearly, my neighbour had stolen into my backyard under the cover of darkness and hastily taken the dog’s bedding.  So she could wash it!!!!  When we were home!!!!

And the most recent display of absolute madness?  She bailed up my very sensitive daughter when she came home from school and stated that we should probably give our dog away since we were struggling to look after her.  What bloody cheek!  My daughter was so upset, she rang me at work sobbing.

Admittedly, our dog is an idiot.  She regularly escapes despite the fact that I’ve nailed every bit of fence down with tent pegs, doubled up with chicken wire, sustained scratches the length of my arms just trying to close up every possible gap in the fence.  I’m going to change the dog’s name to Houdini.  But we love her.  Suggesting we get rid of her is like suggesting we get rid of a member of our family.  It is my firm belief that an animal is for life so I’m hardly going to give her away.

I think my neighbour must have some sort of mental illness.  She regularly lets herself into our yard, and has openly admitted to bringing her grandchildren over to see our dog, but never when we are home.  She no longer comes to the front door, she simply strolls into the yard when she thinks we are not here.

What to do?  I don’t want to start a big thing, I have no intention of moving and since she has told me they moved into their place in 1972, I don’t think she’s moving either.  I could padlock the gate but this impacts on my children.  So now what?  How can I tell my neighbour she’s way past crossing boundaries and well into crazy dog stalker obsessiveness territory?

*Not her real name.  Obviously.

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2 thoughts on “Obsession.. Doggy Style

  1. The dog in the picture is cute and yes he does have that “come hither” look. But a few important words in your post, the neighbours are “retired” and one of them just might have a “mental illness”

    For some reason they appear to be living vicariously through your pet dog. Or have early onset of dementia? Oh to have a few vacant blocks between you and them on that side!

    • HI MelbMan, thanks for your comment. Things escalated last week when my neighbour threw out the dog’s bed and replaced it with a new one..which the dog didn’t want a bar of! I had to have a talk to my neighbour about boundaries and the fact that she was behaving in a way that was judgemental and not helpful at all. After a gentle but firm conversation where I very clearly said that she is no longer to come into the back yard and she is to leave business about my dog to me, she apologised and hopefully all will be okay from here. Interestingly, she did say “oh well I’m retired” and I had a feeling like she may have been through this sort of thing before…

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