Yesterday I had a small adventure in my own neighborhood. Recently, I had noticed, while trying to fix my decrepit wooden fence, that one of my neighbors had in her yard a big plastic bucket that had been collecting rainwater over the winter. It was tucked away behind a shed. The neighbor, a woman I've never talked to and only seen and waved at while on walks with the Muzz, surely had no idea that the thing was out there or that it was a) a serious mosquito-breeding site and b) going to drive me crazy. Just knowing the thing was there, writhing with thousands if not millions of mosquito larvae was sending me into a tizz.
I had a couple of options. I could leave a note on the neighbor's door. Then I could wait and watch and drive myself crazy when the neighbor did not immediately remedy the situation. I would become one of those crazy ladies who is always peeking over the fence and scowling. Or I could simply go into the neighbor's yard, dump the bucket over, and be done with it.
So I took the Muzz for her walk around the block and parked her in the neighbor's carless driveway. Then, for good measure, I rang the doorbell to make sure no one was home. Imagine my surprise when after a few moments, I heard a deep "woof" from the recesses of the house. Another few seconds passed before a big, sleepy-eyed Golden Retriever appeared at the window. "Woof," he repeated, but without much conviction. He looked like Dug, from the Disney pic Up.
Since Dug didn't seem exactly riled, I figured that I would take the chance of sneaking into his back yard. It wasn't until I went through the side gate that the words "dog door" entered my mind. Not to worry. There was no dog door. Instead, my neighbor had left her patio door partly open. Still, Dug was nowhere to be seen, and the yard was strewn with intact dog toys, so I crept across the yard toward the shed way in the back.
Dug was surprisingly stealthy for a huge beast. I was halfway to the offending bucket when he hip-checked me and knocked me sideways. Not to fear. Dug just wanted to say hello and get some quality butt-scratching. I made all the obligatory joyful noises. Dug wagged and shrugged and whimpered. He was a sweetheart, but all I wanted to do was to empty the mosquito farm and get out of that yard. I managed to get around Dug, complete my task, and cross the yard back to the gate, all while crooning to and patting my new best friend. Dug clearly thought he was coming with me now that we were BFFs, and I had to hold him off while I backed out of the gate. Once the latch clinked into place, though, Dug deflated. He stopped wiggling, put his ears down, and sighed before slinking back inside the house.
It really was kind of risky of me to go into a neighbor's yard without knowing whether the dog-in-residence was a sweetheart or a killer. I was totally relying on my Dog Park experiences with Goldens, most of whom are the most flagrant love sponges, hurling themselves at the knees of strangers in their endless search for affection. In this case, the stereotype held true. However, I did discover that my neighbor's backyard is even trashier than my own—weed filled, unmown, and filled with mismatched lawn furniture, empty and broken flower pots, and dog paraphernalia. Invading your neighbor's space: Stupid. Making a new friend and knowing that your yard is less crappy: Priceless.