Life Lessons,  the dogs,  the sticks

The Dog Saga

my dog

I haven’t really had a chance to write about the dogs. Probably because the dogs take up a lot of my doggone time!!! I love the dogs though. I just wish they weren’t so much trouble.


Chiefly this dog: Spreckles. Spreckles is pure trouble. It’s really not her fault at all that she’s so much trouble. She’s a six-month-old Australian Shepherd-Queensland Blue Heeler mix that my mom keeps in her house—her studio apartment that is only one room big. That translates to pure torture for a 30-pound bag of springs that has been bred for centuries to run ten miles a day chasing cattle.

I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this. My mom’s dog needs to run, preferably not into my neighbor’s yard who happens to be deathly afraid of dogs.

And so, I’m having neighbor issues.

I’ve been really really friendly to my neighbor but because of the dogs getting out constantly, he’s afraid to leave his house. I totally understand where he’s coming from. Our dogs, though super-cute and lovable to us, can be pretty scary to others. In fact, they can be downright snarly. I’ve been thankful for their over-protective tendencies since this is the first time I’ve ever lived alone with single-pane windows and on the ground floor where my laptop shines like a beacon blinking “steal me! steal me!” all night long because I refuse to buy dark drapes…but you know, not so good for neighborly relations.

So while I’m afraid of people breaking into my house, my neighbor is afraid of our scary snarly dogs. I’m afraid of guns and he has several. We have both been living in fear of each other. I don’t think he’s going to break into my house but I have to admit when it’s late late late at night I do sometimes get paranoid. He meanwhile has gotten so fed up with the dogs that slingshot onto his property regularly that he has threatened to shoot them. If he shoots them, I’m sure the bullets would go right through the dogs and the tin can I live in that is called a mobile home. It’s not really a very good living situation.

Add to this tension the fact that my mom has trouble keeping her crazy crack-head dog on her leash because her hands are arthritic and she can’t keep a good grasp on the leash when she’s walking Spreckles over to my yard in the early morning hours. Often it’s very cold and her fingers just don’t bend. But she has to let the dog out. She’s a bag of springs!

Holly Bolly Posy-mc-poserton

Our first problem was the wall. My nice big huge backyard is walled in on both sides by a cinder blocks. They’re so old they are pink. Did you know you can’t buy pink cinder blocks anymore? I didn’t. But now I’m an expert in cinder blocks and all kinds of fencing since I’ve had everything from bricks to wood to that fake plastic white fencing to finally chain link priced backwards and forwards.

Anyway, the problem with my wall is that it’s graduated. It starts at about five feet in the very back and then graduates down in steps until it’s about three feet in the front and then about one foot in the very front yard by the curb. I guess that was the style back in the late sixties when this mobile home tract was designed.

It’s all fine and dandy except when Spreckles jumps over it and charges our neighbor and his two-year-old son. I didn’t really have the budget to put in a new fence but I didn’t really have the budget for a lawsuit either. So we kept the dogs in the house as much as possible, walked them as much as possible and saved our pennies like nobody’s business for a grand fence project.

In the end a family friend agreed to put in a chain link fence for FREE for us. My parents and I only had to split the cost of the supplies. This family friend is one of those kind of friends. I am eternally grateful. He probably saved me 800 bucks. Because putting in a chain link fence in a really big backyard is not easy or cheap.

the fencing

We thought we’d hit the jackpot when one of my aunts offered us the old fencing from her chicken yard. That did help us out a lot but in the end most of it was not usable. So we probably spent about $400 on supplies. It’s a lot but it’s so much less than I would have had to pay if I hired a company to do it.

cactus makes fencing tricky

This is John Jenson, our family friend who’s a handyman. He’s wasn’t a fencing expert before this job. In fact, I don’t think he ever put in a fence before. But he is a fencing expert now. It took him about a month with my dad helping when he was in town and me helping in between freelance graphic-design jobs and a cousin helping on an odd weekend.

It was a Project with a capital P. He worked through the weather, through the prickliest of prickly cacti and he’s afraid of dogs too. I really cannot even say how thankful I am for his hard labor. I did bring him endless glasses of lemonade but that was not nearly enough to pay him for all the sweat and tears he put into this job. Not that he cried of course, but I may have.

CC lends a hand

Even CC helped. She’s in town, by the way! It’s so good to have her around. She’s only here for two weeks to pack up their old house and move up to Northern California. I don’t know if I updated you guys on their plans. My brother got a job up in Yreka and the whole family has moved up there. They are living in an old ranch house alongside the Klamath river. It’s very pretty up there and cold. My nieces are in new schools and adjusting. We miss them terribly.

helping with the fence CC's here!

Yesterday was CC’s first day in town and she helped John Jenson drill in the last few clamps to the fence. As you can probably see, we bought one length of chain link fencing and then cut it so that it could go farther. It’s bolted to the existing brick wall. It’s not the prettiest fence you’ve ever seen but it’s very effective. Nobody, dog or kid is getting over or under that fence. I’m so relieved.

new fence

It’s really nice to have a safe and secure backyard again.

loving Holly

my backyard

playing with Holly

The dogs are happy. I’m happy. And with enough prayer, maybe even my neighbor will be happy someday.


  • ioi

    Spreckles looks a lot like our Australain/Queensland Blue Heeler mixes way back on the Ranch. Ours probably had a few touches of other breeds as well though. It is a relief to know the dogs aren’t going anywhere and causing any trouble – ‘glad you got that done!

  • OMSH

    I’m glad to hear the fence is up too. So, does it go to your mother’s side too? Is Freckles in your fenced yard now or still in hers?

  • SAJ

    No, we haven’t solved the early morning leash break problems yet but my mom does hope to move out to her other property in a month or so. That will be better for Spreckles. She’ll have nearly a half acre to run on. In the meantime my mom has been looping the leash around her wrist and enrolled Spreckles in obedience training.

  • Madge

    I think it’s going to take a lot more than a fence to make your neighbor pleasant, but at least you are doing your very best to be a good neighbor.

    So when are we going to go BB gun shopping?

    I’m looking forward to seeing CC again!

  • Sue

    Get a “Gentle Leader” collar to eliminate the pulling. I put one on my crazy, pulling dog & NO pulling. Saved my arm!

  • that guy

    Wisht I had me a Spreckles dog. (Heavy sigh follows)

    Why don’t YOU keep Spreckles and your mom could visit?

    Don’t let me catch you and Madge shooting those poor dogs with the BB gun.

    SAJ says: We could get you a Spreckles puppy probably if you’re interested. She came from a litter of dogs that my uncle has on his ranch. Spreckles does stay in my yard quite a bit during the day and my mom visits her but my mom likes to have her with her at night. Soon she’ll move to a big back yard so she will be much happier in a few weeks.

    And don’t worry, we won’t be shooting any bb’s at dogs. :) We love our dogs.

  • BeachMama

    Yay, CC is visiting!!

    You know the saying, fences make great neighbours. I like a fence for so many reasons, including keeping my crazy dog inside the back yard. It also keeps out the neighbourhood kids who seem to think that our yard is their yard too!! And it makes me feel like I live in my own little world even though it needs to be about five more feet higher to truly accomplish that, but I pretend anyway :)

    Sending thanks to your family friend for all his kind work.

  • carrien (she laughs at the days)

    I think it actually looks pretty good. The fence that is. :)

    You keep reminding me that I need to do something with my lemons. (I don’t have as many as you.)

    Maybe if we manage a visit here I can bake you the VERY BEST LEMON CAKE EVER! yes it is so good it deserves all caps. :) I found the recipe last year.

  • sizzle

    It’s so great that your family friend helped out like that. Hopefully this will help put the neighbor’s fears to rest and give the dogs a much-needed run area. That kind of dog sure is made of springs (I’ve encountered them!).

  • Andrea

    How about rollerblading or bikeriding with the dogs? Try taking them out on to a back road, with a bicycle, or a scooter, or roller blades, and give them both a good run. wear them out. Works a treat. Takes a little bit to train them into the running with bike/ running with roller blades or scooter, but works brilliantly.

  • Ninabi

    You worked so hard to create a solution that works for everyone!

    You were right- it was quite a tale! Glad to know the pups are safe and have room to romp with Bug.

  • Peggi

    Hmmm. Interesting. Trying to figure out where you shooting dogs with a BB gun entered the conversation.

    I used to shoot raccoons with a pump-action BB gun. It startles them, and most of the time I had to ping them with another shot before they’d amble away. Your neighbor would have much better luck turning his hose on any dog that dared to enter his yard. I’ve NEVER seen a dog that liked that trick, lol!

    An earlier poster said something about the “Gentle Leader”, which if we’re talking about the same thing, I heartily agree. I have a 105 pound black lab, who is also a giant bag of springs. He’s had a leather collar, a choke chain, and a harness that went around both his neck and his chest. He’s pulled on every one of them and escaped them all. I finally asked a neighbor with well-behaved labs, and she turned me on to the Gentle Leader leash. It goes around the neck, but it also goes around the dog’s snout. You control the dog by controlling his direction of travel. If he starts pulling or going in a direction you don’t want, you either tighten the slack on the leash or simply stop walking, and his head automatically swivels around to you and he stops also. Ha!

  • Natalie

    I grew up with big dogs and logically I understand that some people are afraid of them but in practice, when I encounter these people I pretty much screw up my face at them in a way that lets them know I think they are dumb ol’ big babies….if he were my neighbor this is what my face would have totally said to him “no wonder you have to own guns …if you are so afraid of dogs you must be downright terrified of deer…big ol’ baby”

  • Madge

    Peggi – I was responding to “that guy” telling him that I would never shoot a dog with a BB gun, as he thought that was why I told Brenda I wanted to go BB gun shopping with her.

    *I* want the BB gun.

  • Beck's Mom

    We’ve also experienced that John J is indeed a HUGE blessing! He helped us put in two different types of wood fencing at my dad’s beach property. (He did a LOT of other stuff for us as well.)

    The Gentle Leader is much superior to the old prong collar we used to have.

  • Kuky

    Neighbor tension is stressful. So glad to hear the fence is up. Wish we had someone handy like John to help us. Our fences come down occasionally and some wood planks are rotted away. It’s going to be an expensive fix. We’ve been avoiding it for a while just for that reason.