We’ve met two of our neighbors through dog fights- unorganized ones. The first time I was taking the garbage out to the street when I heard our neighbors start up their four-wheeler. Having already been reprimanded for our dogs, Cody and Drake, being tire-biters, I held them in an effort to maintain our reputation as slightly annoying, but well-meaning neighbors. They shouted an exaggerated good morning as they passed to make up for our relationship getting off on the wrong foot. I returned the salutation, glad that I was holding the dogs, and then let them go. That was it. They saw the neighbors dog outside his gate and immediately rushed him, bowled him over and attacked, viciously. I ran over and pulled our dogs off. The neighbors, who had heard the commotion, reversed the four-wheeler shaking their heads disappointedly and called their dog who ran off. Later that day the same neighbor saw me at the supermarket and said their dog was bleeding after the scuffle, that we have to do something about our dogs.

The next fight was different. This time I had one dog, Cody leashed. He was waiting patiently outside the neighboring supermarket as I picked a few things up for breakfast. Up walks a guy with three dogs, one of whom rushes Cody, bearing teeth. They go at it and it seems pretty even. The first time I had been able to get ahold of our dogs once they had taken the other one down. This time there was no good way to get in the middle. The other owner wasn’t moving either. The grocer, Chris, leapt over the counter clapping, shouting, running at the dogs and telling the other owner to control his. They stopped, the other owner pulled the chain around his dog’s neck and I grabbed Cody. Needless to say, adrenaline was pumping. Chris was mad that, James, who I shook hands with for the first time moments later, didn’t pull his dog off. James said he’s not getting in the middle of a dog fight. I was surprised again at how fast it happens and hoping that it wasn’t Cody that had started it. James apologized, I introduced myself as a new neighbor, we bought groceries holding our dogs close.

We inherited Cody with the property. He’s a year old and must way at least 60lbs. For all intensive purposes, we also inherited his brother, Drake, who is smaller, more aggressive. They’re from the same litter, different Dad. Drake really belongs to our neighbor, Liam. He sleeps and eats there, but spends his days here while Liam is off working in town. For being puppies they’re really good dogs. The most annoying thing they do is fight each other over our affection, Liam’s, the guests. They’re both leaners because otherwise there would be room enough for the other one to sneak in and steal some caresses. When you pet Cody, Drake comes over, bites his leg and tries to get between you and vice versa. Usually you end up with the dogs, haunch to haunch, both leaning against you with you bent over rubbing their bellies. Fair is fair. They come when you call, mostly, sit, shake and only bark occasionally when they don’t know someone.

At first we thought everything has hunky-dory with the dogs. Sometimes they were here, sometimes they weren’t. They go to the beach with the guests, who love them for it. Then the neighbors complained about their tire-biting habits and there were the fights. We started asking around, investigating our dog’s reputations and the general habits of the neighborhood dogs. We bought Cody a leash a few days ago to see if we can keep better tabs on him. After our survey and taking Cody with us everywhere it seems that our dogs are just like everyone else’s. If you’re on our property, or in front of it, you have to recognize Cody and Drake’s territory. When they are out of their territory it’s the other way around. We like having them here as they are warning against unexpected visitors. Liam told us that they have had problems with petty theft, which we have avoided thus far probably owing in large part to everyone knowing that we have dogs. Our guests find them endearing, part of the experience. We’re doing our best to keep them from running too wild, but after our investigation it seems that chasing a moto, drawing a little blood is just part of being a dog in the neighborhood.