A Doggie Story (#339)

Our rescue dogs were very different in temperament. Woofie, the Labrador mix, saw every creature as a potential playmate. If he could have, that dog would have opened the door to any stranger with a ball…or a knife, or a gun.

Fey, our German shepherd and shar-pei mix, saw every stranger as a potential threat, unless they were a white male over six feet tall who smelled like In-n-Out burgers. (You can probably guess who rescued her from the streets of Los Angeles and what food they used to gain a starving dog’s trust.) Fey refused to let the gas meter man near the house, which was a pain in the ass, but she also refused to let burglars break into the house, which everyone except Woofie found heroic.

Woofie shook off criticism like water. “Bad dog!” meant nothing to him. So did “no!” and even, “Jesus fucking Christ, Woofie, how did you dig up an entire bougainvillea in two minutes?!”

A voice raised at Fey would result in her freezing or hiding. She was an unusual mix of fierce protector and sensitive shepherd.

Fey preferred to spend her day outside, lying on her bed on the patio unless a street sweeper, squirrel, or passing dog needed to be warned off. She and Woofie would wrestle and play tug-o-war, but Fey would break off immediately to run her guard route if she sensed a potential intruder. (Woofie would then plant himself in the middle of her route, earning warning snarls and snaps which bothered him not at all.)

One Saturday afternoon, as I prepared for date night, I heard a strange, high pitched swooshing noise and some loud clicking. I checked outside. Fey was on her bed in the sun, right under the bathroom window. I checked around the house, and mentioned the noise to Andy. He shrugged it off and continued roughhousing with Baby D.

I went to dry my hair. My hair dryer had been on less than a minute when the bathroom window cracked.

I dropped the hair dryer. Then I put two and two together and lost my shit: “SOME ONE HAS AN AIR RIFLE AND THEY’RE SHOOTING AT US!”

I flew out the backdoor. Fey dashed in the back door. She was shaking, but unhurt.

I was incensed. To hit that particular window, the shots had to have come from the yard of the new neighbors over the back fence.

The wall and the shrubbery in our backyard.

There was a shrubbery that extended about six feet above the six foot cinderblock wall, which meant I couldn’t see into the yard. The noise had stopped, possibly because the shooters heard my enraged shrieking:

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? AIR RIFLES ARE ILLEGAL! YOU COULD HAVE HIT MY DOG! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

I stormed out the back gate and over to the new neighbors’ yard, where I found a shame-faced father with a teen—a teen holding an air rifle. (In retrospect, I do not recommend confronting people holding weapons directly. At the time, I was such a mass of fury that I probably would not have cared if it were a real rifle. The zero to psycho Ashbough temper is likely to end in prison or death someday.)

I yanked open their gate and barged into their yard, yelling, “MOTHERFUCKERS! YOU BROKE MY WINDOW! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!”

The dad tried to placate me, explaining that his son was just shooting at the shrubbery, and had hit our house by mistake.

I was NOT placated. “You absolute shit heads! You utterly ignorant fuckwits! THE SHRUBBERY IS POROUS! The shots went right through! You nearly hit my dog WHAT IF MY KID HAD BEEN OUTSIDE YOU COULD HAVE TAKEN OUT AN EYE!”

By this time, Andy had showed up behind me, carrying Baby D. Andy never said a word. (Later, when I asked why, he pointed out that a) I had barely touched my arsenal of obscenities, and b) no one could have heard him over shrieking that would have put a Shakespearean fishwife to shame.)

The dad was thoroughly apologetic. He promised that it would never happen again, that he would get rid of the air rifle, that he would repair the window, that they had moved in from a more rural area and hadn’t been thinking.

“CLEARLY!” I yelled.

Part of me wanted to call the police, but father and son had too much melanin for that to be a reasonable consequence. Our local police are so bad that some of them have actually been ARRESTED for racist shit, instead of getting the usual commendations.

After my ranting ran its course (which Andy says lasted at least five more minutes), I agreed to the neighbor’s window repair offer. The man ultimately paid for a handyman to replace the window and make other repairs as a gesture of goodwill (i.e., so I would never scream my head off at him again).

Fixing Fey was more problematic than fixing the window. While we never heard or saw the air rifle again, Fey turned into a quivering, cowering wreck every time I turned on the hair dryer. To Fey, hair dryer = someone shooting at you + your human going on a screaming rampage.

I’d had easy success retraining Woofie when he was traumatized by football games on TV; I tried to do the same with Fey. I gave her treats and praised her while taking out and running the hair dryer. Fey wouldn’t eat. Not even bacon. She just trembled miserably.

So I packed the hair dryer away. Forever.

I never regretted it, either.

Our good girl didn’t deserve PTSD.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

28 thoughts on “A Doggie Story (#339)”

    1. I know, right? Apparently I attract idiots as neighbors.

      Or perhaps there are so many stupid people that one can’t help but have a few as neighbors.

      As long as there was no hair dryer, Fey was fine. I’m glad it didn’t ruin the patio for her.

      1. You are not alone. Every neighbor has at least one and they usually live near me. Last neighborhood I was lucky. One guy was a contractor and kept big rigs and equipment on his lawn. He was surrounded by really high end homes. Eventually he cleaned it up so I’m guessing someone complained. You can’t run a business like that (with piles of stones and crap) out of your home.

  1. Awww AUTUMN!! I almost treated up reading this story!!! Poor Fey, that is so horrible! Thank god the air rifle didn’t hurt anyone… but talk about a close cal. Dude wtf is wrong with people? I’m glad you chewed that neighbor out. Oh god I wish people would stop letting their kids play with any type of guns (except the nerf kind)… the world would be a better place.

    I’m glad you are giving fey lots of love. Poor pup!!!

    1. I think we often allow people to be thoughtless, especially males. We pick up after them, we excuse hurtful behavior with “boys will be boys” bullshit, etc. So often we don’t teach them to recognize their impact on others. We don’t teach them to recognize their own hurt, either, because only anger is acceptable in our toxic culture–but only for men. Women can’t get mad and men can’t cry and we are all the worse for it.

      Yes. Nerf guns only.

  2. This is a frightening account and even more so in light of the latest school shooting.
    The fact these neighbours don’t question using a gun so lightly and have no awareness is concerning. No thought of due diligence with a weapon is terrifying and perhaps awareness and education is a good place to start in the seemingly frustrating campaign for gun control.
    I would be similarly incensed.
    I have a dog with PTSD from an aggressive dog attack, and 6 years later, the sight of a big dog will still trigger her. Getting her to focus on me with a high value treat helps a little.
    I am sorry you can’t use the hair dryer but you have a beautiful loving dog. Rescue dogs are so special. My rescue was truly the best dog I had.

    1. You’re right, too many people value guns too highly. They are embedded in our culture. Ripping them out is going to take awareness, education, and more political will than America has yet shown.

      Rescue dogs are the best! I’m glad your dog now has a patient person to love and work with her.

  3. Some people don’t have the brains they were born with. What did he think would happen when he shot into the shrubbery? I don’t yell at people, so I doubt I would have been nearly as effective as you. My oldest daughter has that ability. She doesn’t actually swear, but when she gets really angry, it’s potent. She seems to exude anger from all her pores, and people are affected and back off in fear. Some people have that ability; others don’t. Anyway, I’m glad it’s working out for you and Fey. I was just thinking that I should stop using my hairdryer. It’s probably not good for my hair.

    1. I am certain people know when I’m angry, but I’m pretty sure the sheer volume has something to do with it. And stomping. I step very angrily.

      I try and be compassionate and remember we all make mistakes, but I am so very tired of males who do something because they CAN without considering if they SHOULD.

      Here’s hoping I can raise mine to be more thoughtful.

  4. Poor, poor Fey. You can understand why she reacts like she does, but what the heck is wrong with your neighbor to do what he did? Honestly, people suck. [Not you, of course… just many male ones… not all, of course…]

    1. People do suck, and yet people contain multitudes. There are those in animal rescue who donate so much time, money, and sleep to save dogs…and think every Black American gunned down by the the police deserves it. (And probably vice-versa.)

      Don’t get me started on those who would kill adult women to protect the “unborn” while shrugging off school massacres as “inevitable.”

      Thankfully, dogs are a lot less complicated.

  5. Awww, poor pup. And wtf, air-rifle-guy?!

    On a more positive note, I hope you are enjoying your hairdryer-free existence. I stopped using one when I moved to South Africa and have probably dried my hair a total of 10 times in the past 12 years. I can’t believe I wasted so much time on hair-drying in my youth.

  6. I had to stop reading and come back to this one as it reminded me of the time I discovered my adored black cat had been hit by an air rifle – with intent. He was always getting bitten by other cats, and it kept happening on the same joints (front leg elbow joint). I imagined him using them in an American football type fend off. It got bad, He nearly lost his leg it happened so often, so the air rifle event nearly finished me off. We moved shortly after that, but still… how do you know whether they’re out there or not?

    Happy ending: he didn’t die till he passed his 17th birthday, still had all his limbs (if a bit of arthritis) and slipped away peacefully in his sleep having been adored all his life by everyone who met him.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who does ANGER is capital letters. Even Himself who’s a big guy and can more than handle himself steps back and lets me have at ’em. Recent neighbour row being a case in point. What is it about neighbours?

    1. I totally understand not reading. I should probably have added the “no dogs were harmed” warning at the beginning. I can’t bear to read stories where an animal is hurt. Or a mother loses her child. Nope. Just nope. I read for escapism and information, not to reinforce my worst nightmares.

      So it was nice of you to come back. Will add warnings to future posts.

      There’s always some idiot with a weapon out there. It’s just that in the U.S., there are more weapons and using them is more acceptable.

      I am glad your kitty outlasted his injured joint and survived the air rifle. That’s a pretty good life, and the best ending one can hope for.

      I was very angry and possibly less coherent in real life than I am in this retelling. There may also have been more profanity. Andy chuckled the whole walk back home. For whatever reason, he finds it hilarious when I lose my shit and chew someone out who really deserves it.

      Even that time when it was his father.

      1. Oh no, no need for any health warning for me – I’ve just promised myself I’ll try not to post (or comment) when potentially emotional! I totally got your frustration and anger. I may have had to be physically restrained in the circumstances myself.

        If you’ve written that story about losing your shit with your FIL on here, I want to read it! Let me know, I’ll go looking 😀

          1. OMG! I mean, seriously OMG! You are an actual (insert expletive) saint. Expectations of girl children to master politeness and service to others, while subduing anger, just make me want to yell, stamp my feet and hit someone. I’m so glad you told your FIL off, I’m so sorry you were upset by losing your temper while doing so. After rowing with our neighbours, I had the same feelings – churned, emotional, upset and tearful. It’s hateful (and frustrating) that even at my vast age the childhood conditioning we share still has that effect on me when I’m so ill-bred as to lose my temper. I feel for you. Especially that you had to put up with him for another week. I hope you “allow” them to stay in hotels now.

            1. Oh & where are my manners? 😉 I forgot to thank you for providing the links. Thank you so much, they were quiet the read.

            2. Yes, what a good description of my emotional state: “churned,” indeed. Upset I lost my temper and unable to see that sometimes that anger is so necessary. Civility is such a selectively useful shield for those in power, isn’t is?

              After that visit, we went to Hawaii rather than having them visit us for many years. Until after my FIL died, actually. My MIL is a much easier guest…and I always insist that Andy takes time off work to wait on her when she’s here. He makes her avocado toast and cooks for her instead of me and it works out much better.

  7. I kind of want to hear your full arsenal of obscenities now! Too bad your car didn’t have any hail damage. I bet your neighbor would have paid for repairs to that, as well. You should have at least hit him up for an oil change and tuneup.

  8. Poor Fey. You charging out of the house to confront the neighbors reminded me of the night someone hit our mailbox and drove off. My mild-mannered husband tore out of the house and chased the car to the end of street where he chewed out the teenage driver and passengers. I, in turn, chewed him out because wtf was he thinking? He could have been shot or beaten up. (I still don’t know what got into him. Confrontation is not his style at all.)

    1. Yes, exactly! That would be my husband, too. Sometimes teens deserve to be chewed out, but you never know what they might be carrying.

      When we were driving in England, my husband made more than one obscene hand gesture. I said, “Really?” He said, “Why not? That guy was an asshole and they don’t have guns here. Totally safe.”

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