neighbor dogs.

All my neighbors have dogs. And so there is a corner of my backyard that meets the corners of their backyards, where all our dogs can meet and sniff through the fencing, wag their tails at each other and discuss how one day, they are all going to bust out of their respective joints and go chase the geese in the pond across the street. Or maybe they just bark at each other. Not my dog, because she's stoic.

Of course, the wildcard situation is Gail's section of the four corners. Because she has so many dogs, I really just try and avoid having our dogs out at the same time. It is a certified ruckus. And I guess that's really her problem, but it's no big deal to keep my dog inside sometimes so hers can be outside. I admit it, I have a soft spot for my crazy neighbor, and I don't want the other neighbors to be mad at her.

This was all working reasonably well until Syrus came to stay. I think Syrus may be provoking Gail's dogs. Or maybe his very presence is provocative enough. In any case, whenever Syrus is outside, Gail's dogs go NUTS in a way that they do not do in reaction to my little old pitbull.

This has coincided with a sudden newfound ability to breach the chain-link fence between our yards. Or maybe it's not so coincidental. In any case, we sometimes find ourselves with a few visitors. One of the hounds can just climb the fence and jump right over, which is downright impressive. Some of the littler ones are able to squeeze themselves under the fence. However, only one of the three that can manage this are able to squeeze back into their own yard. Gail always apologizes profusely, and I try to convince her it's not a big deal.

Saturday night, we were outside, grilling chicken wings and enjoying the magnificent weather. I let the dogs out, then immediately wished I hadn't, as a cacophony erupted next door. We got our dogs back inside, then realized that we had three extras. The rest of them were still all bunched up in one spot at the fence, barking their heads off. Gail was in the midst of them, frustrated as anyone would be in that situation, even if it was a situation that probably occurred weekly and was completely and totally brought upon oneself.

It was dark and hard to see, but I could see a few little shadows running around in our yard. I approached a terrier, who allowed me to pet it once before barking at me and then sneaking back under the fence. I thought I saw something over near the compost bin, reached blindly toward it and found something vaguely cocker spaniely. I figured out which end of it I had and then switched to the other end: I have yet to meet a dog that can resist The Butt Scratch. A little bit of that, and it was docile enough that I could pick it up. I carried it over to the fence and held the wriggling body out to Gail, my arms extending over as some half dozen dogs continued to go nuts.

And then one of those suckers jumped up and bit me!

I cried out and jerked my arms back.

"Are you okay?" Gail asked.

"I think one of them got me," I said, trying to be as non-accusing as possible while still informing her that excuse me, ma'am, one of your dogs just bit my elbow.

"Are you sure it wasn't the fence?"

Sigh. I did not answer, but left Gail to her dogs and went into the house to inspect the damage. On the way in, I passed Josh, who had finished putting our dogs away and was on his way over to the fence to try and evict our trespassers. We were tag-teaming here.

In the bathroom, I inspected the injury. I had a couple of small swollen-looking areas, and one tiny place that shown blood red. It had been a warning bite - hey, you, quit putting more dogs over here, we got enough! I washed it with soap and water, then applied some antibiotic cream on it. My first dog bite - how thrilling!

I headed back outside. It was strangely quiet. Gail had put away the dogs on her side. She had to do some of them one at a time, dragging them by their collars. There were still some critters rustling around on our side. A black blur came up to me, ah, my old friend Brownie. After a few seconds of Butt Scratch, she was laid out on my feet, tummy side up. Gail came back and Josh handed her a dog, she disappeared again as she led it inside (I think it was that cocker spaniel again). Finally she came back and we handed her Brownie. Josh put an extra pallet in front of the spot where the little dogs had tunnelled under; we'd just have to take our chances with the hound. Gail promised to get her privacy fence up real soon. She's had the posts up for months. I'm not holding my breath, but again, I don't really mind the crazy animal foster home that sits next to mine.

The next morning, my elbow was sore and lightly bruised, but no festering wound, so I guess it's all fine. I thought about letting Gail know that hey, one of your dogs is a biter, but Josh pointed out that she probably already knows.

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