I’m going to just suck up my pride and share this story.  Please don’t tell me I’m a terrible neighbor, even if you think I am.  Ok?  ok.

So Hank.

Hank is a great dog, really he is.  But he has some . . .  quirks.

Like terrifying the UPS man, which I find mildly hilarious.  Shouldn’t you just expect that if you’re the UPS man?!

Also?  Hank runs away.

We have an electric fence.  Doesn’t matter.  We have a choke collar.  He slips out of it.  You name it, we’ve tried it.  None of it works.  None of it, I tell you!

A few months ago, the doorbell rang and I looked out the door to see a uniformed officer.  Because of the way our driveway is situated, I can’t see the car in the driveway.  Which is why I assumed that it was a cop.  Which is why I assumed that Peter was dead, because why else do uniformed officers come to your door except to tell you that someone has died!?  Which is why I started sobbing before she even said a word.   I may have a problem with jumping to conclusions (usually I disguise it as ‘discernment’).

Turns out she was just an Animal Control Officer, coming to tell me that someone had filed a complaint against Hank.  She was super nice to me, probably because she thought I was a FREAK.  But the complaint remained.

We thought he was doing better sticking to his territory until we got a handwritten letter in the mail last week.  It was addressed to Resident.

I’ll spare you the details.

Apparently Hank has been on the run again.   And we had no idea.

I felt terrible.  No one wants “those neighbors” . . . and now we are “those neighbors”.  I wanted to give her a numbered list of excuses why we have been lax lately, along with a bulleted list of things we have done and ways we have cared for him.  Because we really aren’t bad dog owners.  We walk him and feed him every day.  He always has fresh water and we sometimes even give him baths.  So maybe we don’t brush his teeth or buy him the organic dog food, but we do take him to the vet regularly.  Doesn’t that count for anything!?   So what if we completely lose track of him a few times a week!?

Instead, we went to our neighbor’s house.  We knocked on her door and we asked for forgiveness.  We were wrong.  Guess what else we did?  We introduced ourselves.

Perhaps this is the part that I am most ashamed of.  We have lived here for eight years and we had not met our neighbors four houses away from us.  She had to address our letter to “resident” because she didn’t even know our names.  Ouch.

We talked for awhile and we gave her our phone number and promised to try harder.

Until a few days ago when I panicked.  I forgot I’d left him out, without his shock collar on (not that it matters).  When I looked out the window, he wasn’t in his spot at the back door.  Or in the garden, sheepishly digging a hole to burrow himself in.  I yelled his name (quietly, so the neighbors wouldn’t hear, of course).  Nothing.


And then.  I heard his collar jingle.  In the garage.  In his dog house.  I heard Hank, yawning and stretching, slowly walking to me with a look that questioned why I interrupted his afternoon nap.

Ahh, Sweet relief.

Last night he was outside the back door.  We were getting ready to leave, throwing around our various hats, gloves, boots, coats, scarves, etc (except for William who still claims he’s hot enough for shorts and pushes his sleeves on his coat up to his armpit just to prove his point).  In the general chaos of that 3 minutes, he saw his chance.

Poof!  Hank was gone.  For most of the night.

Never mind that we slowly drove the back road over and over again, softly calling his name, trying to shine our headlights inconspicuously into the neighbor’s backyards.  He was on a mission and he was not going to reveal his location to us.

This morning we found him in his doghouse.  With the normal symptoms (he always has a limp and an bloated belly when he returns.  It’s nice).  And the sheepish look to his face.

What are we going to do?  Because, well, he’s a dog.  I guess we can take away his peanut pop treats and break out the toenail clippers for punishment.

You know, we always jokingly said that we wanted to try out a dog first before we had kids so that if we messed up on the dog we’d know to just skip the kids.  Apparently we forgot to wait until the dog hit the teenage years.

Hopefully this isn’t a look into our future.  Because we all know that shock collars don’t work on teenagers either.

P.S.  Of course I’m just kidding.  About the toenail clipper thing.