This is Sugar, my neighbor’s dog.
For a while, Sugar’s schedule was overlapping with the Two Bows’ routine. We would see each other nearly every day at one of our favorite off-leash parks. Despite living at our house for years, the Bows never actually met Sugar until this past year.
The first meeting involved some initial snapping and lunging from both Sugar and Bowdu. I’m not sure what set it off, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that we had just arrived at the park, so Bowdu was in a state of heightened anticipation, and he can be a jerk around bulky dogs who pant noisily, as Sugar was since she was a bit winded from having just concluded a vigorous walk.
That initial meeting didn’t go so well. The dogs were separated quickly, and I told my neighbor I’d catch up with her some other day.
The next time we ran into them, mid-way through both of our walks, everything was fine. And the meeting after that. And after that.
Ever since she adopted her from the shelter, Sugar’s momma has worked hard to ensure that her dog is okay in public. She also knows exactly the type of circumstances that keep her dog friendly and sociable — Sugar is at her best when she’s gotten her exercise every single day, and the best place for her to do that is at off-leash dog parks. As we exchanged stories, she told me about how it took some time and exploration for her to realize this about her dog. She has my complete respect for going to such lengths to prioritize this relationship with her dog, as it has evidently paid off.
Now, here’s another one of my neighbor’s dogs.
What dog, you say?
This is the unseen dog that lives at the corner of my block. This dog is kept in the yard nearly all day, every day. He/she is not walked, not socialized, and not known to others in the neighborhood. Nobody has seen him (I’m just going to pick a pronoun), beyond the glimpse of his massive head as he’s leapt up above the six-feet-tall fence to bark and snarl at anyone who passed by on the opposite side. Eventually, he started to rip through the lattice fence extensions, so my neighbors layered over it with corrugated plastic instead. To the right, further down the fence, they’ve also installed barbed wire.
I know nothing about the history of this dog, or how my neighbors acquired him, or how he is kept on a day-to-day basis. Nobody has seen him walked in the neighborhood. But we’ve all heard him when he’s launched himself at the fence, and many of us have wondered what would happen if he ever managed to scale it, as he’s been raring to do.
It takes all kinds to make our dogs what they are. On the same block, same street, same neighborhood, we have such an array of dog owners that it’s hard to make any generalizations, least of all on breed. I know that I would much rather encounter Sugar than Green Fence Dog running loose on the street, but that has everything to do with how they have been kept, and not the fact that they are both pit bull mixes.