Sunday, May 22, 2011

There Goes the Neighborhood

One Friday evening a few weeks ago, I was getting ready to meet friends for Korean Barbecue. Tommy frolicked in the backyard. As I brushed my teeth, I realized how relaxed I was and how blissfully unusual that felt: Tommy was in the backyard!

Tommy enjoys the backyard with his girlfriend, Babe

In my old place, I’d have to take Tommy for a marathon walk before going out for an evening, and I was always rushed.

But tonight was different. It was a warm evening. I wore a dress. As I pondered what shoes to wear I heard Tommy barking. Normally Tommy is not a big barker, so I knew he was up to no good.

I went outside. I couldn’t see him but I could hear him rustling through the leaves. Predictably, he ignored my calls. I followed the rustling to the sunken part of the yard, wild and lush with overgrown trees and ivy. I called him again. I still couldn't see him, but I heard the rustling as it traveled away from me, into my neighbor’s yard - and beyond.


I said it several times as I ran into the house.

I threw on jeans under my dress, put on sneakers and jetted out the front door. I knocked on my neighbor’s door but they didn’t answer. So I went to the neighbor next to them, two houses down from me, running past the young mom getting into her car. I frantically explained my plight, and she kindly extended an open invitation to use her yard anytime I needed. I silently hoped I'd never have to again.

Because of the natural wash that runs through the yards along my side of the street, they're overrun with brush and ivy just like mine. People have given up trying to tame the wildness. It's paradise for little creatures and for the dogs that chase them, but not so great for a woman in a dress.

At least I could see Tommy now. He was in the yard behind the young mom's. I ran through hers and up a slope covered in ivy into the yard of a neighbor I'd never seen. I cursed and wondered if my neighbors could see or hear me as I ran after the loose pit bull.

Tommy must've been tired or perhaps he'd given up. He sort of stumbled into me. I put his snoot loop on and dragged him home.

As I put on mascara in the bathroom, I could hear Tommy panting in the kitchen. The chase had exhausted him. I could walk him for hours, even play a few rounds of fetch in the backyard, and never tire him out like that.


  1. I hope your dress survived! And I hope this expedition calls for just a wee bit of fence patching, not the start of a major construction project...

  2. top of home repair list

    1. lay a line of fence in front of the swamp SSSSSSSS

    Do you think Tommy might be a pro at this sort of thing? I always worry about the neighbors being armed and dangerous.

  3. Shell, the dress survived. Unfortunately, the fence required more than a wee patch.

    PA, it definitely moved to the top of the list. And yes, I think Tommy's prey drive makes him a professional escape artist.

  4. Hi Sue
    I am always smiling when I read your blog. You write it so perfectly with the right amount of suspense. Oh my goodness he is so Dennis the Menace! Always getting into something. Thank god he has you hon. He is so good for that discipline every second possible right? I enjoy your stories each time more and more. Keep the great tales coming our way here in NY!

  5. Cannot WAIT to have a backyard!


  6. Oh dear, Sue. I guess you will never ruin out of funny Tommy anecdotes so you have to thank him for that!

    I had a similar event with Walter last night Walter woke me up to go potty at 1:30 in the morning so technically it was not night time (he was having some stomach issues. Once outside, off leash (like we have done so many times before late at night on the front yard), he decided to run off and go exploring. So there I was, in my pj's, whispering his name as I frantically searched for a sign of him in nearby yards - and the yards around here have that same wild ivy growing everywhere! Finally, I heard him rustling about in someone's yard, trying to dig his way through their fence and into the woods! Bad doggie! I had to climb over someone's deck and jump down into their yard and grab him by the collar and yank him out of there - all without waking up all the sleeping neighbors or getting arrested for trespassing. Luckily, I did not have a dress on. :)

    I guess it's time for a new fence, Sue, and for me, well, in two weeks we are in our new place with a little fenced in yard!

  7. Hi Sue,
    With Tommy there is never a dull moment, at least you'll meet your neighbors!
    Love ya,
    Lynnie xoxo

  8. I meant "run" not typing is not one of my strong points....

  9. Oh an one more much cuter could that photo of Tommy and his girl be?

    Look at innocent expression on his tilted face ... I bet he gets forgiven quicker with that look!

  10. Eheheh you never get bored, do you? :-D

  11. Thank you, Kristen. Dennis the Menace is spot on for Tommy!

    Kari, you're welcome to bring your pack to my yard anytime. Seriously.

    Liz, your story tops mine! At least mine was during daylight hours. That is too much. Glad you and W&H will have a yard soon.

    Lynne and daisy, it's true. There's *never* a dull moment with Tommy.

  12. Ok. I'm going to brag now. I know that is wrong of me, but I so seldom get to that I hope you'll forgive me. In quiet neighbors, Scout can walk off leash. She stays when I say stay. She never runs across the street--even if she seeks a squirrel or a cat I can say no and she stops.

  13. Margaret, I forgive you. If Tommy were as angelic as Scout, I'd be bragging too.

  14. Oh no! How is it they reliably find the one and only hole to escape from? It's a skill, I think. Especially when you're in a dress ;)

  15. I love how your words bring such clear images to my mind! Oh that Tommy is a full-time job isn't he? It's a darn good thing he's so good lookin! I Love your pictures. Love & Miss you,Cindy.

  16. Cindy's right, it's a good thing Tommy's handsome!

    Your story reminds me of advice a friend gave me when I lamented that I didn't know what repair to do next on our first house. "You do the thing that bugs you the most," she said, and I've always stuck with that.

    I'm not going to brag about Boz. I can't take credit; he came that way.

  17. ForPetsSake, I think it must be a sixth sense.

    Thanks, Cindy. Tommy really is a full-time job! Good-looking and entertaining, too.

    Petrea, the list priority first changed by order of urgency. Now that urgent matters have been addressed (temporarily, anyway), I'm onto the stuff that bugs me. Good plan.

    I wish Boz (and Scout) could teach Tommy some good manners.

  18. Loved this cheery story!
    How I wish Buster could run and run all over the place!
    Tommy is quite a character.

  19. Welcome, Elizabeth! Thanks for stopping by. It's too bad that Buster doesn't get to run, but it's wonderful that he gets to explore New York City with you.

  20. Gosh. GOSH you can write - I was right there! We have a difficult dog and we don't have a fenced in yard for him - yet. But I know from experience, let him run loose to run at his own pace and in a place he's glad to be and he'll finish his romp wonderfully spent. I'm glad Tommy had a good time and I hope you've recovered from the adrenaline flood you must have had. You're a good, good, good goggie mum.

  21. Paula, thank you so much. That means a lot coming from someone as talented as yourself.

    You have a dog? I don't think I knew that. I do appreciate how calm Tommy is after a good run.

  22. that face! I think Tommy needs an agent. He should be shilling dog food or something.

    (Still can send a comment normal way, but this is me -- KB)

  23. "It's paradise for little creatures and for the dogs that chase them, but not so great for a woman in a dress". That is soooo FUNNY! I can just picture it.

    The new crazy women who moved in with her pit bull next door. Tooooo FUNNY! Love the photos of Tommy and Babe. XOXO

  24. Hiker (aka KB), I agree! I actually researched what it would take to get Tommy into Hollywood and learned the dog must be exceptionally well-behaved, so I nixed that idea. Maybe I should amp up his training and reconsider.

    (Thanks for your persistence with commenting. I'll check the blogger settings to see if I can figure out what the issue is.)

    thedogrescuers, Tommy misses Babe. I hope she will forgive his bully behavior and come visit again soon.

  25. I can't get over the sight of you in other people's yards with a dress over your pants. Crazy new neighbor indeed. Don't dogs have the ability to make us look foolish? Thank goodness he came back to you, and hadn't attacked a cat or chihuaha.

    I actually tried to get Abby into Hollywood, and had an interview lasting several hours at the agency offices. They didn't really look at Abby at all - they mainly wanted to know how dedicated to achieving Abby's stardom I was. After doing a training course for 6 months, Abby may be put forward for roles, but the woman let slip that animal trainers usually get their own shelter dogs and train them up years before the filming starts. So I'd have wasted all of $6,000. It was a scam.

  26. Bellis, thank goodness Tommy did not attack a cat! But it's not for lack of trying. It's one of my biggest fears about him.

    Thanks for the Hollywood reality check. If Abby can't make it in Hollywood, Tommy sure can't.

  27. I'm sure that's what the neighbors were thinking when they saw Tommy & Susan. But hopefully not many were looking at the time.

  28. these kinds of "excursions" almost make you wonder if you should try to create something like this by design . . . some way for him to *think* he is escaping and being adventuresome, while the whole time actually being under your control . . .

  29. I've learned that my dogs are experts at showing me what I missed - holes in fences, a new hat that didn't have my scent on it yet and therefore was apparently fair game, a leash that's clasp was about to go...oh wait, it just snapped. Keeps me on my toes when it's not irritating the hell out of me!

  30. I was over at the Lacy street shelter. Drowning in Pit Bulls. Tommy is very lucky. Anyhow, I found this link and thought you would get a rise out of it.

  31. Thanks for the link, PA. Those photos of pit bulls throughout history are priceless, and they seem to be making the rounds. That's good. More people need to see them.

    I'm afraid to ask more about Lacy Street, but I know I'll get the scoop from your latest post.

    loveandleash, I think PA (Pasadena Adjacent) suggested I try something like that - one of those fake bunnies zooming around the yard. Tommy would love that.

    T2, our pit bulls are little rascals, aren't they?

  32. What a marvelous story.

    I've known two famous "Hollywood" animals, one) the Maytag Man's Bassett, who was a passive-aggressive sad sack who peed on everyone's shoes-thereby he was used sparingly, and two) Morris, the cat.

    You and your escapades with Tommy are so much more fun.

  33. I'm sure you were a vision of loveliness in your jeans, dress, and sneakers chasing after Tommy!!! You certainly painted a clear vision of the whole picture!!!

  34. Thank you, PI. I'm impressed you knew Morris. And I'm sorry to hear the Maytag Basset was a sad sack. He looks so cute here:

    Chieftess, yes, that's what I was: a vision of loveliness. Thank you for that spin!

  35. Thanks for finding that Maytag spot. Haha! He does look cute and much peppier than in memory. I think that's a different Newton.

  36. Excellent job in front of City Council Susan.

  37. Thank you so much, PA. It was an honor to follow in MG/PI's footsteps.