I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a people pleaser. Not pathologically so, but it does matter to me if most people like me. So, that’s why it bugs me that my neighbor thinks I’m an asshole.
It all started a couple of weeks ago when Pretty reappeared after a month’s absence. I was outside watching her eat. She tends to feel safer when I am standing nearby, and since she already seemed pretty fragile, I was taking my job as protector fairly seriously. Next thing I know, a neighbor’s Chihuahua comes barreling towards her, which causes her to dash for cover. I said, to no one in particular, “god damn it!” and when I looked up, my new neighbor was a few feet away from me. He looked a bit taken aback by my reaction.
“She wasn’t going to hurt the cat. She just likes to chase them” he said.
“No, I didn’t think she was going to hurt her. It’s just that this little cat is really fragile right now . . . ” I started to explain.
He called for the dog, then picked her up and walked back to his house without saying much else.
For the rest of the day I felt bad that I had come off so rude to this new neighbor who had seemed so nice when I met him the first time. I thought about writing a letter apologizing for my rudeness and to ask him if he could kindly keep his dogs on a leash when walking through my (OK, my landlord’s) property, or carry them in his arms so that they don’t harass my Pretty. After all, he does pass through my yard while walking his dogs.
But time passed and I never left that note. I watched a few times from my window as one or the other of his Chihuahuas made a beeline for the area where I feed Pretty. If it wasn’t him and his two Chihuahuas, it was another new neighbor and their Chihuahua. In the last two months, there has been a Chihuahua explosion in my immediate vicinity: five freakin’ Chihuahuas within a 50 yard radius. Look, I have nothing against Chihuahuas – they’re dogs and they are going to do dog stuff like chase cats and eat their food. I get it. What I don’t appreciate is how people let them go unleashed, figuring they’re tiny and harmless and don’t need to contained. But, for the sake of being neighborly, I refrain from yelling out my window “keep your goddamn Chihuahuas out of my yard!”
In the meantime, my landlord started working on my house. After a few days, noticing how people were constantly using his property as a through way to get to an alley that serves as a shortcut, he decides to fortify a fence to make it more difficult for people to pass through, and then slapped No Trespassing/Private Property sign on both sides of the property. While I have sometimes been annoyed by people cutting through, I thought his approach was a bit heavy-handed and less than neighborly.
Apparently the neighbors got the message, though. I didn’t see the Chihuahua Man crossing by anymore. That is, until this morning.
As I was guarding Pretty I saw one of Chihuahua Man’s dogs a few yards away. She was barking in my general direction, but she didn’t get too close. Knowing that her owner couldn’t be too far behind, I waited until I saw him so I could talk to him. I still felt bad about our previous interaction, and I’m sure all the No Trespassing signs that went up shortly thereafter didn’t help the situation.
“Hi!” I waved and smiled.
“Hey” he nodded sans a smile.
“Listen, I wanted to apologize for our interaction a few weeks back. I didn’t mean to be rude. I was just upset because the cat is really skittish and she had just come back from being missing for a month.” I explained.
“It’s not like she was going to hurt her. She just wanted to eat her food.” he said sounding somewhat defensive.
“No, I didn’t think she was going to hurt her.” I started, but opted to change the topic since he clearly didn’t grok the whole feral cat thing. “Also, despite the new signage my landlord put up, you’re free to pass through. I haven’t had any problem with it.”
He continued to look at me impassively.
I nervously continued. “Considering our last interaction and the timing of the signs, I just wanted to let you know that I have no problem with you or your partner passing by. Those signs were not directed at you.”
“Yeah, well, that’s how we took it.” he said with no sign of softening.
“So, feel free to use walkway, but if I could just ask you to either have your dogs in your arms or on a leash when you pass through so as to not bother the cat.” I said in a manner that was probably more pleading than firm.
“Yeah, fine. Thanks.” he said with no emotion.
Never once did he break a smile. I mean, this was all a silly misunderstanding. I’m a good person, really, I am. Like me, won’t you?
So, we’ll see where this goes. Hopefully, all will be well in the neighborhood. But, if he continues to let his dogs harass my Pretty, well . . . you think I’m an asshole now?