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Dogs and Cat Wars - a True Story

 The story you are about to read is true -- the names were changed because it happened so long ago, I have forgotten them.

 Phil and Dave were neighbors. For six years they lived next to each other as friends. Within the last six months their relationship has gone from good to dreadful. Dave just put his house up for sale. Coincidentally, the collapse of their  friendship started about the time Phil adopted a cat.

A week after Phil brought his cat home from the animal shelter, Dave parked his truck in front of his house, as  always. It was a warm day so he left the windows down. Later that afternoon, he decided to take his dog, Jake, down to the park to play frisbee. As he and Jake piled in the truck, Dave noticed a pungent and fetid smell. He also  noticed that his back felt slightly wet, through his T-shirt. Sure enough, the driver's seat was soaked with foul smelling urine -- cat urine.

 Dave bailed out of his truck in an instant. He looked at Phil's house and caught sight of Phil pruning his rose bushes and Boots, the cat, reclining on the front porch. Dave stormed forward, enraged. Dave began yelling at Phil from a  distance. He cursed the cat and told Phil that if it ever happened again, the cat was going to use up nine lives at the same time. Phil tried to apologize, but added a parting remark.

 "Look, Dave, I'm sorry it happened, but all you have to do is roll up your windows. Besides, Jake poops in my yard all the time and you don't see me getting bent out of shape."

 "I'm not rolling up my windows because of somebody's stupid cat. You keep that thing off of my truck or it'll be that last thing it ever pees on."

 Two nights later, things heated up. Dave's other neighbor, Mark, called the cops because Jake was barking his fool head off. Dave was out for the evening and had no way to know that Boots had been strutting along the block  fence, above Jake's kennel. When Dave got home he found a warning from animal control that told him to fix the problem or face a citation. Dave was not a happy man.

 The next night, Dave stayed home and waited for Boots to make an appearance. While Dave watched the back yard, Boots decided to skip tormenting Jake and mark his territory in the front yard. He sprayed the tires of Dave's  truck, left footprints on the windshield and scratched the paint slightly as he jumped from the bed to the top of the cab.

 In the morning, Dave got ready for work and walked out to his truck. The first thing he saw was cat prints on the windshield. He backtracked the prints and found the scratches in the paint. He noticed some drip marks on the tires  and smelled the urine. Dave was furious.

That night marked a turning point in the relationship. In response to Boot's scent marking, Dave waited until nightfall  and paraded Jake back and forth along Phil's prized rose bushes. Jake cooperated with the plan and liberally sprinkled the plants. For the next week, Dave waged a silent but deadly war of the roses.

 When Phil saw the dog tracks near his bushes and figured out why his plants were dying, he became furious. He had spent months cultivating those bushes and was not going to take this lying down. Phil got a covered bucket and  started collecting some of Jake's stool samples. He waited until late Saturday night when Dave was asleep after a night of partying. Phil sneaked over and smeared the dog droppings on the windshield of Dave's truck.

 The next morning, Dave tried to kick down Phil's door. He started screaming that he was going to "kill that cat and hang it on the rose bushes as a warning." That's when Phil called the police. The police did not listen to Dave's  claims that it was "the cat's fault". They told him that if he ever tried anything like that again, they could help him avoid feline harrassment -- from inside a jail cell.

 While Dave and Phil's story sounds like the isolated squabbling of overgrown adolescents it is actually a widespread problem. Courtesy and responsibility are necessary ingredients for a friendly relationship. When  neighbors forget their obligation to control their pets, the result is often serious and ironic - they start fighting like cats and dogs.

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Copyright 1997 by Gary Wilkes -- No portion of this web page may be reproduced without  permission.