Thursday, June 14, 2007


I live in the Hollywood Hills, and I have to admit that, although I’m friendly with our neighbors, I don’t know many of them very well. Those I speak to most are because of their pets!

Our next door neighbors have a beautiful Brittany Spaniel who loves to play vigorously in their yard. I always know when they’re away, because their dog goes out the doggy door and cries mournfully. Calling her and throwing occasional treats only interrupts her for short periods. I always feel so sorry for her! And the poor thing started wailing as I wrote this blog...

On the other side of our house live two middle-sized dogs who are brothers, and beyond them lives another dog of different breed but similar size. They all act as if they would like to be alpha in the neighborhood pack, but as we walk by Lexie tugs on her leash to tease them that she’s the one who’s out and about.

At a house down the street, the owner started to remodel before getting permits. The work was stopped, and now two German Shepherds guard the place and bark menacingly as we walk by. Our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Sparquie, whom we just lost, always thought she was alpha, no matter what the size of the other dogs around, and nipped at even the nicest ones--except for Lexie, fortunately. Good thing she never had an opportunity to see who’d win in a fight with these two guarding their territory.

A couple of neighbors walk a dog owned by another family for the fun and exercise of walking a pet. They (the humans, not the dog) always carry treats to give to other dogs on their route. And they’re not the only ones. At least one other neighbor knows all the dogs by name and best way of providing them treats. She knew how to give Lexie a treat that Sparquie couldn’t steal by the way she threw them.

A lovely and friendly Golden Retriever lives in the house at the point formed by two streets and likes to greet dogs walking by nose-to-nose through her fence. That works fine with Lexie, but I had to keep Sparquie away so she wouldn’t nip.

There’s a cat who enjoys trying to stalk the gopher in our yard, and Lexie always looks for the cat before tearing down our steps into the yard. Lexie enjoys chasing the cat away. I doubt that the kitty is afraid of Lexie, but fortunately they’ve never gotten close enough to see who would prevail in a cat fight.

Then there is the amazing array of wild animals around here. Not pets, but they help to shape the character of the neighborhood. Yes, I live in a really urban part of L.A., but on a slope of one of the Santa Monica Mountains, and there are still areas around here where homes can’t be built, so wild animals still roam.

A couple of weeks ago, I was coming home at night from a writing critique group and, as I turned onto my street, I saw the butt of a doe that was heading up a yard into the hills. I’ve seen quite a few deer here over the years, but always on a gated driveway and away from the street.

And then there was the coyote that got stuck in my fenced backyard a few years back. That freaked me out with my Cavaliers around, and I now look carefully before I let any pup loose, even though there’s been additional work done by the neighbors to secure adjoining yards.

We’ve had squirrels come down our chimney a couple of times, and it was great fun (hah!) trying to chase them outside. And then there was the one fellow who sharpened his teeth on our skylights. That went on over several months and led to us having to replace the skylights--until we chased him away by putting a combination of soap and hot sauce around the skylights’ edges. I’m not sure whether it was him or a friend who retaliated by gnawing our electrical lines.

Speaking of pests, I mentioned the gopher. He surreptitiously eats the strawberry and melon plants my husband Fred has planted recently, then peeks his head up from his hole to stick his tongue out at Fred. Plus, I rarely see the skunks, but I know when they’re around.

Yes, there are stories to be told about all the animals in my neighborhood. Maybe I’ll add them to my Kendra tales.



Kathryn said...

Linda, I get to know our neighbors through their pets, too! The gentleman across the street, who is a retired SWAT officer, trains Rottweilers, (natch). When we first moved into the neighborhood, I was a bit leery of having these huge, intimidating dogs right across the road. Then I got to know them and their owner, and the big dogs are really sweeties! Plus, now I like the idea of having big dogs "on the patrol" at night!

Linda O. Johnston said...

That sounds a lot more secure than the barking German Shepherds down the street from me!