My neighbor thinks I’m an asshole


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? 

13 responses »

  1. I have ‘hard to please’ neighbours also, despite best intentions. Shame really but seems to be a fact of life. Anyway….. sympathies from over here !

  2. Joanne – Yes, I am protective of her. Probably overly so, especially lately. She’s had a tough go of it in terms of other critters chasing her out of her territory. I just want her to feel safe again and reclaim her territory. Being chased out by little hyper dogs doesn’t help my cause.

    ThePeaceGarden – Normally, I’m not all that much of a neighborly person, but after having some really nice neighbors, I realized how nice it was to be on good terms with those who live close by. I’m really hoping this situation at least stays neutral.

  3. the new kid in the neighborhood is always the most insecure and how that gets displayed is varies according to personality.

    bake a pie and bring it over as a peace offering.

  4. I’ve had great neighbors, a group of us going out of our way to barbecue/hang out together on weekends, and chilly neighbors, too.

    Our neighbors here greeted us by asking us to chop down the trees at the back of our yard. When we politely declined, it got frosty, and they began tossing piles of leaves over the fence into our yard. (Seriously. More work than using a bin.)

    The chihuahua thing sounds pretty passive-aggressive. Nothing like using your hounds to invade another’s space! One neighbor fusses with her yorkshire terriers every time she passes when my black lab and german shepherd are out in our yard. As a dog person I really think its incumbent on the visitors to behave; the alpha sets the tone for the pack, and this neighbor of yours ought to cool it.

    Both of my dogs are acclimated to our cat. Both are very civil–no chasing. If you ever need a big hound to teach the chihuahuas some manners, let us know. I know–it’s probably more traumatic to Pretty than its worth.


  5. We used to have a couple of wandering chihuahuas in my neighborhood. I don’t know what became of them. They were owned by different people but they disappeared almost simultaneously, which makes me think one of my other neighbors got fed up with them.

  6. Your neighbour sounds like an arsehole. Frankly.

    You were being entirely reasonable, whereas he needs to rethink his attitude. I have noticed that being extra nice and accommodating to such people just reinforces their belief in their own unassailable rightness, so my advice (for what its worth) is to look after Pretty since he and his Chihuahuas are clearly able to look after themselves and she is less able.

  7. ha! i hope you’re getting the picture from these comments .. you aren’t out of order, those neighbours are!

    guarding Pretty’s wayyyy more “it” than making planet room for idiots and their unfortunate companions …. dogs should not be allowed to chase … it’s hardly going to satisfy the hunter instinct, more stir it to greater frustration i’d have thought … and allowing/encouraging such behaviour says more about the human supposed to be in charge … ppfftt

    the only thing i’d reconsider is your invite for these disrespectful beings to continue using the walkway … your landlord gave a perfect and self-blameless way out of having to please ’em … *heh …. you don’t need to be liked by those you never need to meet?

    i’d rather be loathed by the entire world if it meant one wild beauty safe

  8. Lets just face it: The days of social interaction with neighbors is generally over. Case in point, me. Our home is fenced all the way around, and out interaction with our neighbors is extremely limited. And I like it that way.

  9. It seems as though your neighbor is pretty determined to hold tight to his assumptions. You made a point to be civil and communicate, so IMHO, I’d just let go of it. It’s his choice to act that way. I love the idea of a blameless way to keep out da neighbors – better for Pretty! ^_^

  10. Kangaroos – considering his tepid response to my apology, I ain’t bringin’ him no pie. ‘Sides with my baking skills (or lack thereof), I don’t know if a pie would be considered a peace offering.

    Ombudsman – the leaves thing, wow. And thanks for the offer of your big dogs to show the little dogs some manners. Frankly, I think the message would be lost on them. But, if you wanted to teach my neighbor some manners . . .

    Mcarp – Oh my. I tend to not be a big fan of really small dogs, but the only harm I’d ever dream of doing to them is bitching about them behind their itty bitty backs.

    Trucie – Yes, Pretty is my priority so if he continues to let his dogs harrass her, permission to cross will indeed be rescinded.

    Shell – Yes, I’m starting to see a trend here. 🙂 I’m hoping for the best – that Pretty will go unharassed and I will have a friendly relationship with my neighbor. However, I won’t sacrifice Pretty’s safety to keep peace with a neighbor if he continues to let his dog’s chase her and eat her food.

    Adam – I guess I got spoiled for a brief, shining period there when I had neighbors with whom it was pleasant to socialize. Living alone, as I do, it felt good to know there was someone close by in case something bad ever happened. But, I think that was the exception rather than the rule, so I shall go back to just being the crazy neighborhood cat lady who hates Chihuahuas.

    Edamommy – I think I have already let go – I haven’t spent, nor do I plan on spending much more time worrying about my neighbor thinking I’m an asshole.

  11. Marymeistresss,
    Your neighbor’s dog is crossing onto property to which you as a renter have certain rights and he as as a pet owner has very definate and well defined obligations to control the animal. The mildest response I think you will accept is to make this a noxious environment for the dog with a spray bottle full of ammonia or, at the very least, a high pressure nozzle of water attatched to the hose. Someone gave me this advice long ago… “If you let someone walk over you, pretty soon it becomes a pathway.” I like that you are protecting Pretty.

  12. Funny, isn’t it, how much our expectations of a situation color the way they go. Your neighbor seems, like you, to want to be liked, and to have you understand “where he’s coming from” — he and his Chihuahua anyway. You did a good job of diplomacy, but he’s still clinging to hurt feelings — maybe thinking that you don’t like him because he suspects you misunderstand, and think he’s got an attack Chihuahua. Give him time to mull and keep being a fair neighbor and if he has the ability to come around to understanding you, he will. Some of us are slower than others at getting a good grip on what actually is happening — our preconceived notions of how people are make it impossible for us to see — and some of us, of course, never do; we can’t make the other understand but we can do as you did and offer an open hand and explanation — which shows that your intentions are good, and you are a likable person.

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