Grassholes on the Other Side of the Fence

Dear neighbors, I got the message.

Dear neighbors, I got the message.

Below is an actual letter mailed to my next door neighbor. Images have been added; the text is verbatim. 

Dear Jay,

My good friends have advised me not to fight small battles with petty people. This letter will be incontrovertible proof that I rarely listen to advice from my good friends. Anyway, on to the fun….

THE SOD

goat-faceI recently noticed that sod from my side of the fence had been pulled up and moved. At first, I was confused by this revelation. I considered whether any of our neighbors owned a (presumably hungry) goat. They don’t. I scanned the news for evidence of any sod bandits that may have recently escaped from the local jail. None did. I then remembered receiving a text from your girlfriend taking me to task for planting sod on my side of the fence. (There are no typos in the previous sentence. I did say my side of the fence.) Between the text, the relocated sod, and your lack of communication skills – which are the envy of deaf mutes everywhere – I’m assuming you’re claiming and wish to maintain control of strip of land that is approximately four inches wide on my side of the fence.

I was unaware that mysterious string appearing in one's meant that shade tolerant sod was in trouble.

Apparently, mysterious string appearing in one’s yard is a sign that shade tolerant sod’s days are numbered.

Lawn maintenance along our boundary line is an issue of which I’m flexible. If it makes you happy, we can forego the traditional method of boundaries civilizations have used for thousands of years, aka ‘the fence,’ and use this new system you and your girlfriend have invented – ‘the fence plus 4.’ Before we can implement your new system, I only ask that you communicate with me as to how it works.

Are you saying you would like to edge and trim the lawn along both sides of the fence? If so, no problem. I hereby grant you permission to come on my property in order to trim the grass along the fence next to my garage. Weekly would be great. Please note this grant of permission extends only to you – Jay Brothers – and is intended for the sole purpose of allowing you to edge and trim four inches of property along the disputed section of fence. Please…no girlfriends.

Alternatively, are you saying you would like to move your fence over a grand total of four inches in order to reclaim a strip of land that is suddenly so important to you? In principle, I have no problem with this either. Perhaps you have discovered a tiny kingdom of Lilliputians and need someplace to house them. It’s none of my business really. You are welcome to tie-in to my posts in order to modify your fence. When you send the updated survey notating proposed changes to the neighborhood’s Architectural Review Committee (ARC), please send me a copy for approval as well. I’m sure it will be fascinating reading.

Now that I think about this further, I realize that neither of these options would explain why you (or your non-land owning girlfriend) would have pulled up the sod. Is it that you have an insane hatred of grass? That can’t be it, for you have grass on your side of the fence. Let me think, what reason could there be for the destruction of newly planted sod on my side of a boundary line that has been unquestioned for 2 years? What could it be? Oh yes….

THE DOGS

Harvey Updyke would be proud.

Harvey Updyke would be proud.

Let’s be honest here. The real reason you pulled this juvenile stunt is that you and your girlfriend are having a Harvey Updyke-level tantrum and are attempting to retaliate against me for calling animal control after your (vicious and dangerous) dog almost killed my dog and you did nothing about it. Side note: the “best defense is a good offense” people called and want you to speak at their next meeting. You’re their hero.

In the event you are confused about why I called animal control on your (vicious and dangerous) dog, let me spell it out clearly. I did not call animal control to retaliate against you or your (vicious and dangerous) dog for the attack that occurred on April 23 against my dog, Jake. Nor did I call animal control to retaliate against you or your (vicious and dangerous) dog for the 5+ previous attacks by your dog against other dogs. I called animal control because it has been established beyond any doubt that your (vicious and dangerous) dog is vicious and dangerous and you are unwilling to do anything about it.

Repairing an akita mauling.

My dog after an akita mauling.

Owning dangerous dogs, in and of itself, is not necessarily wrong. Hoover is full of people who own dangerous dogs. Like motor vehicles, power tools, or firearms, such dogs can be owned responsibly if safety is kept in mind. The problem is that you are an irresponsible dog owner and are showing wanton disregard for the safety of the people and pets in the community.

You will recall that I only called animal control after you informed me that you were unwilling to make any material changes to address the safety issue of your akitas. Before calling, I reflected on two quotes:

1. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

2. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” ~ James 4:17

I honestly don’t think you and Marina are bad people. I think she is crazy in love with her pets and you are crazy in love with her. You aren’t the first man to be unable to stand up to a woman. None of that is my problem, however. My problem is the existence of two (vicious and dangerous) dogs in the neighborhood. I would hope that, if you put yourself in my position, you could see why I am not willing to go along with the same thing and expect a different result. And, I hope you see why I decided to not sit idly by waiting to see if the next incident will be worse than the last. I’m sure it is easier to be mad at me than to be mad at Marina, but your anger is misguided.

SELF-DEFENSE

I think it is fair for your neighbors to ask these questions of you:

1. What precautions have you taken to make certain your dogs never attack again?

2. If the dogs do attack, what is your emergency plan to stop the attack?

Jay's akita fights like something in a Michael Vick wet dream.

Jay’s akita fights like something found in a Michael Vick wet dream.

You’ve indicated that you think these questions are irrelevant because your dog is sweet and won’t attack again. Therefore, you’ve indicated there is no need to take precautions or be prepared to stop future attacks. You are unquestionably wrong on these points.

Since you are too negligent to do it yourself, I’ve done what I can to prevent future attacks. As one example, I’ve fortified my back fence so your dogs will have a harder time digging under it. By contrast, there have been no changes to your fence. Your dogs could easily dig under and get loose in the neighborhood (like your previous akita did).

As you may have noticed, I’ve also prepared myself in the event of future dog attacks by carrying a sidearm. Someone who is unfamiliar with the imminent danger posed by your dogs may say: “That seems extreme. Why would a gun be needed for a dog fight?” Allow me to answer that question.

I have personally assisted in separating your dog from his victim multiple times. During the second attack (the one in which your dog jumped through your window, ran out to the sidewalk, and attacked the German Shepherd I was with), I was bitten during my attempt to stop the attack. After that incident, I researched how to break up dog fights and learned of the technique in which you pull their back legs. During the most recent attack on Jake, I pulled the back legs of your dog.

That did precisely jack shit. (Thanks, internet!)

Three of us working together could not stop that one dog. It was a humbling experience. As you know, the fight ultimately ended when you choked your own dog until he blacked out. Seeing your akita in action would literally give Michael Vick an erection.

I have subsequently researched how to break up akita attacks specifically. Here are a few of the things I have learned are NOT sufficient to stop these fucking rampaging beasts: bear mace, cattle prods and Tasers. Therefore, based on the advice of a self-defense expert, I have acquired a sidearm in order to be able to lawfully protect myself, my family and my property from the danger you are every day imposing on us.

Does this dog look like he needs even more reasons to fight?

Does this dog look like he needs even more reasons to fight?

POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES

If all of the above wasn’t enough, you have upped the ante by providing your male akita with a female akita and advised that he is “extremely protective” of her. That’s just what we needed – to increase the odds of a future incident by giving your vicious and dangerous dog something to be pissed off about. Also, because you now have two akitas, the potential consequences of future incidents are more severe than ever. If three of us working feverishly were powerless to stop one akita attack, then two of you will not be able to stop two akitas without extreme action, and it will be impossible for one person acting alone to stop two akitas.

When you walk those dogs without muzzles, you are essentially escorting a powder keg around the neighborhood. Where will it blow up? What lengths are you forcing your neighbors to go to in order to protect themselves?

I’m not an attorney but, heaven forbid, were to I discharge a firearm within city limits it could be an extremely serious matter. Also, future attacks could expose you to civil and possibly criminal liability. Depending on the situation, either or both of us could have our lives permanently affected. We are talking about serious shit here, Jay.

Again, I am not an attorney but I would suggest you seek the advice of one and ask if there is truth in my statements. I think s/he will also tell you that your usual ostrich approach of putting your head in the sand and pretending there isn’t a problem isn’t the wisest strategy for this situation.

ostrichTRESPASSING

Given the disagreement we have over the furry bombs in your backyard, we should make certain we are clear over our land dispute. I’m presuming by your actions that you believe you own land on my side of the fence and therefore have unlimited access to my yard. I hate to break it to you, but you do not hold any sort of easement on my property and your presence here to draw your self-proclaimed property lines or to pull up sod is known in legalese as ‘trespassing.’

Again, Jay, you are welcome to come knock on my door at any time so that we may discuss your concerns. I’m sure we can work something out so that you have permission to use that side yard if you wish. Marina, however, is another matter. She has a consistent history of not respecting my property or boundaries in general. It has come to my attention that, while I was away, she routinely took more liberties on my property than I was aware of or intended. I no longer trust her judgment. Therefore, I am once again clearly stating that I do not want your dogs around my dog, my family, or my property. And I do not want Marina around my dog, my gates, or my property.

no-trespassing-signs-ATFrankly, I could give a rip about the grass. It’s Marina’s trespassing without realizing she is trespassing that is the most concerning aspect of this. Part of the reason I took the time to write this long ass letter is to clearly state in writing that Marina’s presence on my property will be considered trespassing. You have been notified. It is your responsibility to pass on the notification to your girlfriend.

AND FINALLY….

This is an example of how NOT to have a discussion. Put on your big boy panties next time and give two-way communication a try.

Hear those crickets? That is how NOT to have a two way discussion.

Jay, we have a lot more important things to worry about than grass on the other side of the fence. If you are uncomfortable meeting me alone to discuss like adults, I will be happy to arrange for an independent mediator be present. I’m also willing to trade written correspondence via email or traditional mail. I am unwilling (unable actually) to communicate via ESP or mind reading. If we are ever going to work this out, then you have to participate in some type of two way communication.

Frankly, it’s bullshit that I have to send this to you via mail when you live next door to me and we see each other frequently.

And finally, I fully intend to post this on the internet so the absurdity of the entire situation is exposed for all to see. I told you man-to-man that I intended to pressure you into being responsible with your dogs. That pressure includes being vigilant in staying on topic, and using juvenile situations like ripped up grass as an opportunity to refocus attention on the primary problem of you harboring vicious dogs that are not securely confined or muzzled.

Your Neighbor,

Bo Crawford

Really? Grass is what you are worried about?

Jay is worried about grass?

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22 comments

  1. Digging up the grass is petty, but I do wonder where the property line really is. I think there is a law, if it is their property and you maintain it for so long, then it becomes your property. I sure hope you get his worked out for your sake, their sake, and for Jake’s sake. Glad he is getting back to normal. I miss the big guy. Shout outs from Ginny, Yahoo, and Una.

  2. Cassie, I believe you are referring to the concept of ‘adverse possession’. Grass, who grows it or trims it, should cause no adverse possession concerns in this neighborhood.

    I have not measured, but I believe the property line to be close to where the yellow line is shown in the picture. In other words, the neighbors are correct that they own land on the other side of the fence. It is common for fences to be built slightly inside the property line instead exactly on it. One reason this is done is to avoid the adverse possession concerns you mentioned earlier.

    Anyway, so what?

    The fact that they own that strip of land does not give them the automatic right to trespass on my property. Theoretically, stretch armstrong could reach over their fence to manage sod along their Lilliputian strip. But even then they should not pull up sod on my property in the process. (Which they did.)

    There is the concept of ‘easements’ and ‘right of ways’. But they have none.

    When I moved in I had a conversation with both my neighbors about maintaining the landscaping along both property lines. Jay and I discussed who would maintain what. If Jay has changed his mind, then he should communicate that to me. Ripping grass up of his property and mine without communication is wrong on many levels. But it is too petty to itemize them all here and now. In legalese, if he wants to modify our the verbal contract then he should communicate that to me.

    For the record no holes were dug on their property. I was in the process of plugging grass and, knowing where the property line is, made certain to stay well inside it. The grass along the fence was put down with no digging because there is mostly weed and mud there now anyway. Which is why it was dumb to, out of spite for me, harm their own property by pulling up grass.

    Why are you asking about adverse possession anyway? The neighbors were being dicks, and I called them out on it. That is really what it boils down to.

  3. Ginny Kirkland · · Reply

    Bo, I absolutely LOVE and RESPECT every word you have written here. It is hysterical, yet deadly serious. So glad to see you taking the bull by the horns, or the Akita, as it may be, and addressing this situation for yourself and your entire neighborhood!

    1. Thanks Ginny. I really do appreciate the support.

  4. Hi Bo, from a friend of Ginny & Lawson. We live in Hoover too.

    Your blog is beautifully written and hysterically funny, though deadly serious at the same time like Ginny said. I am so sorry for your poor black Lab… that is just simply horrible. And inexcusable.

    Assuming your next door grasshole can read, my message to him and his emotionally disturbed “girlfriend” AKA common law wife is: put the dogs down, you’ve ruined them and they are not safe for humans or animals, including yourselves I’m afraid. Find a new hobby to compensate for your low self esteem and your deeply warped sense of reality. The hobby should not involve any other breathing being, including goldfish. Hula Hoops are back in again, that might be a safe and somewhat productive pastime for you, with very low injury rates when properly used.

    1. SallyVee, Thanks for the kind words. It took me many months to recognize what you saw clearly right out of the gate. I’m impressed. Also, if that doesn’t draw out a response, I don’t know what will. 🙂

  5. Art Peterson · · Reply

    Most zoning laws require that people erecting a fence must be 4-12″ inside thier property line, moving the fence over is not a legal possibility and should not be approved or tolerated. Being neighbors with stupid cowardly people is unfortunate. The owners ignorance and allowing the dogs bad behavior is going to result in the animal eventually being put down by animal control. Out of control behavior by people or animals cannot be tolerated in a civil society.

    1. Thanks for the info, Art! I did not know that. But, having had a closing delayed before because of a fence that crossed a property line, such a zoning law makes sense.

  6. Judith Dorchester · · Reply

    From Sallyvee’s mother and Ginny’s friend:

    Dear Bo,

    As sorry as I am for your poor Lab, my heart also goes out to innocent dogs that have been turned into what these Akitas have become at the hands of an owner who’s actions are malicious and deliberate. What’s at issue now centers on a whack job paired with a twisted sister and both are basking in limelight they think makes them important and puts them at center stage.

    I think you need to refocus the issue and take action. How about making an appointment with someone in the DA’s office to find out what options may exist and how you can get help? You need a clear picture of what you can or can’t do, as well as an understanding of options that may or may not exist and/or any legal remedies available. What about a carefully crafted letter hand carried to each home in the neighborhood that tells the story briefly, accurately, and without exaggeration or editorial? At the very least, you will be alerting neighbors regarding a danger that is very real and identifies that they are at the same risk. In my opinion, your methodology should be focused on doing what’s necessary to cause the neighborhood to shun and isolate these people while at the same time providing them with accurate information that is in itself more than sufficient to cause a reaction. Treat this reprobate as he deserves and turn off his spotlight while letting the neighborhood know the unvarnished truth. This isn’t a “both sides need to to be heard” situation. There aren’t two sides and there is nothing worthy of debate.

    1. Judith, I see where SallyVee gets her rapier writing skills! Thanks!

  7. No particular reason on the adverse possession. It just reminded me of situation I encountered with my old neighbors when I lived in Memphis.

    On a side note in case anyone questions your ability with aggressive dogs, I have seen you in action with them before. You know how to control a situation and work with dog and dog owners to prevent it. I have seen Jake around a dog with aggressive tendencies before and seen how he reacts. He was completely calm and knew how to avoid confrontation. It allowed the other dog to feel calm in his presence and not to show signs of aggression as he felt comfortable around him knowing he was not going to get hurt or be challenged. I have often told you that you are like the dog whisperer. When you come to my house, all my dogs listen to you and respect you and your space. Certainly it is clear you have had experience with aggressive dogs and know how to interact with them. This Akita sounds way over the top to out of control. Any dog that would jump through a window to get at something is just scary.

    1. Thank you Cassie. That is an important point because some folks might think I’m going over the top on this out of fear of dogs in general. The truth is, I am (or at least was) comfortable around dogs and would not sound alarms on something like this unless it were a last resort. The reason why I am scared in my own yard of their dogs, is that Akitas are known for not giving warning signs other dogs give before they ‘go off’. No growling, no raised fur, no intense stare–they look perfectly happy and then just snap. Not all akitas, mind you, but many of them including their male. This is why akitas are ranked as the #1 breed new pet owners should avoid.

      Get this: I’ll say this happened about 10 days ago. Jake and I were playing fetch in my backyard. His toy landed by the fence and when Jake went to get it Akio the akita went nuts trying to get him through the fence. Jake was scared to get his toy even with the fence there. We’ve done this 100s of times since Jake’s attack without incident. But for some reason, on this day, that male akita just went off.

      Then, a couple of days later, Jake and I are working in the front yard and Jay and Marina walk by with their dogs on leash. They walk within four feet or so of me and Jake. All the dogs stayed at the heel position and there were no incidents. But my point is, why would they risk it? Why not cross the street and walk on the other side? Why not walk in the street? Why do they insist on walking within feet of me and Jake? To me, it is like they are trolling for trouble.

      I promise a dog that randomly snaps one day and tries to bite through a wooden fence is not under control on a leash. Especially when a ~ 100 lb woman is walking 250 lbs of vicious and dangerous dogs. There is no way she can maintain control if they lunge. It is all going to blow up one day.

      LIke SallyVee said, there is some issue going on with them. They are compensating for low self esteem and enjoy intimidating others or something twisted. It’s weird.

      1. That is startling information about the breed – 115 pounds… and “bred to hunt big game such as bear, boar and elk.”

        So truly, what possesses city dwellers to choose this breed? I mean, are they interested in owning pets that enrich their lives and their communities, or are they interested in “making a statement” and creating the illusion that they are powerful people to be feared and respected?

  8. That dog owner situation sounds terrible! I am sure we can agree that any dog can be a good dog if raised properly by the right people. There was a chocolate lab at the dog park I used to live near who coincidentally was named Jake. He was absolute trouble and his owner just did not see nor understand that he should not be at the park around other dogs. He caused fights and attacked everyone. It would take two or three people to break up a fight and as this was a popular park with no separate small dog section, the fights would occur with four or five dogs at a time, often little dogs being the targets. The owner would just sit on one of the benches and watch, and just say, “That’s dogs for you!” not realizing that her dog’s behavior was unacceptable. Many people told her to stop bringing her dog to the park and whenever he showed up, anyone who knew them would leave. She just kept coming anyway. It’s people like that that give dogs a bad name for the rest of us.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Yep, there are a lot of bad pet owners out there. Sad that so many people’s enjoyment of a resource is ruined because of one inconsiderate person. Ownership of high risk dogs and deviant behaviors has been studied. For example, this study says:

      Owners of cited high-risk (“vicious”) dogs had significantly more
      criminal convictions than owners of licensed low-risk dogs. Findings suggest
      that the ownership of a high-risk (“vicious”) dog can be a significant marker
      for general deviance and should be an element considered when assessing
      risk for child endangerment.

      So yes! It is safe to say that some dog owners are giving the rest of us a bad name!

    2. “I am sure we can agree that any dog can be a good dog if raised properly by the right people.”

      Jenna, up till yesterday I would have largely agreed with that statement. But when I casually clicked the link from “Daxton’s Friends” above – which linked to this blog, I read a story that shocked and stunned me and instantly changed my mind. It is not for the faint of heart, and it is about Pit Bulls, not Akitas, but all of the principles apply. I recommend everyone summon the courage to read it and digest the information with an open mind. Bottom line: there are bad breeds, that no amount of human reason or skill can overcome. It is the ultimate hubris to deny the plain facts and such denial and arrogance can lead to terrible injury, death, and lifelong psychological torment for the survivors… just ask Jeff Borchardt (the father in the true story that follows):

      ‘Believing the Myth is What Left Us Without a Son’
      http://blog.dogsbite.org/2013/07/beyond-the-interview-essay-of-a-fatal-pit-bull-mauling.html?m=1

      1. That is a great post SallyVee. Thanks for the link.

        I do not agree with all of dogbite.org’s positions. In a free society it is better for 10 guilty people to be free than 1 innocent person to be punished. Dog breed bans punish the many for the sins of a few. We are too quick these days to sacrifice individual liberties in the name of public safety. In truth, we will never be able to legislate away stupidity.

        There are some of dogbite.org’s positions that I DO agree with. I’ve had it with the people who perpetuate the myth that all dog breeds should be treated the same. The truth is, people who own dangerous breeds are committed to a higher degree responsibility and long-term vigilance. Unfortunately, those who are least qualified to assume this higher level of responsibility are the ones most interested in owning dangerous breeds. As I evidence, I submit to you Marina and Jay.

        We know that breeds have certain characteristics. Retrievers are naturally predisposed to play fetch. Beagles are driven to track rabbits. Terriers are more likely to chase critters…etc. Are we really supposed to put our heads in the sand and pretend like certain breeds aren’t more likely to bite and not let go? That is ridiculous, and I am not humoring the ASPCA or whomever on this topic anymore.

        The truth is, trying to train a dog like Akio the akita not to attack is like trying to train Jake not to fetch. The owners are trying their best to avoid this common sense, undeniable, truth. This is why I like the ‘Zero Margin of Error’ rule mentioned in that article. Owners of dogs like these need to realize they are playing by a different set of rules than a regular ole Fido the family pet owner.

        Over the course of 18 months or so, I tried, and tried, and tried again to impress this fact upon Marina and Jay. They just don’t get the ‘zero margin of error’ territory they are in.

  9. Personally, I enjoyed the letter.

    1. Thanks Nikki! It is long, that is for certain.

  10. […] promised to keep you informed of further developments with my neighbor and the whole dog/grass situation. This post is my attempt to make good on that promise. Be forewarned that this post is lacking in […]

  11. […] this past weekend, an update for the dangerous dogs situation is in […]

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