Friday, May 19, 2006

The shack, the bunny, and my rant about the responsiblities of owning pets

It's funny, the things you learn about a neighborhood when you're home all day - and when your desk sits right in front of a window facing the street. Although all of the residents keep pretty much to themselves, I get to watch all the crazies that walk through our neighborhood...

Anyway, freelancing meant that I was home today to meet our new neighbors - and experience the revelation that our nickname "The Shack" was a prophecy-come-true...

To explain:

Next door to our house is a little place we call "The Shack." The shack was built in 1915, possibly as a temporary house while our home was being built. It looks like a temp that has hung on too long... The roof bows a bit in the middle, the yard is unkempt, and the ceilings look pretty low. It's all the way back at the alley, and has a rather run-down, off-white picket fence around the entire yard. It has a garage and a storage shed that probably make together more square footage than the house itself has. The house and the garage are painted this ugly shade of green, with tan trim. Oh, and there is a clawfoot tub sitting in the yard on the side of the house, out by the alley - like they wanted to get rid of it, but that's as far as they could get.

Surprisingly, when I peeked in the windows about a week and a half ago, I saw that it's pretty nice inside - original hardwood floors, original wood trim that still has the original finish (not painted), and beautiful French doors with the old doorknob and hardware! The house also has a wood-burning stove in the living room - how quaint! It's tiny, though - the whole thing can't be much more than about 500 square feet.

The house is a rental, and from day one has promised to be a thorn in our side. The bushes along the picket fence on the property line we share are overgrown and hideous. They hang into our yard (but I intend to fix that). Some really crazy-looking people have come to look at the house.

Just a day or two ago, there were people there late at night. We quickly realized the house had been rented, and to a bunch of kids! They were moving late into the night, and with the music up, of course. First impressions of our new neighbors: not very good.

This morning, at about 9:30, I was awakened (yes, awakened) by a knock on the door. It took me a few minutes to get up and dressed, but I wasn't really intending on answering the door, anyway. Once up, though, I realized there was someone kneeling in our bushes on the shack side! I hurried out, and a young couple explained to me that they had lost their bunny. (And I mean young - the guy was this scrawny guy with no shirt on and tan lines from a wife beater, and the girl looks like she's about the same mentality.)

It turned out that the bunny was just a baby - they'd just got it, apparently. I commented that the fence isn't bunny-proofed - i.e. a little bunny can slip through ridiculously easily - and they said yeah, but they were supervising. I'm not sure how they though "supervising" would help with a creature who can run faster than them and slip into smaller spaces than them... Anyway, the girl admitted a little while later that the bunny can slip under a closed door.

We didn't catch the bunny. While we were looking, their cat darted in, chased the bunny around, and I'm not sure that she didn't hurt it. Afterward we were unable to figure out where the bunny had gone. The thing is seriously about four or five inches in length - rather small to find underneath eight-foot lilac and snowball bushes.

Meanwhile, they're telling me how they're going to get a puppy in a few weeks. Huh?! You just lost one pet, and you're happily talking about the next one you're going to get?! Seriously, have they no restraint? I commented that the fence will need chickenwire almost all the way around, and they agreed - but, in light of the bunny event, I have my doubts.

A little later on, I went outside to ask them if they'd found the bunny. They - and some friends - were playing soccer in the yard with the music turned up. (I watched that ball nervously every time it flew into the air above the reach of normal human beings. If it ever hits our house I'll have their heads on a pike.) The girl said no, that she looked under the bushes every once in a while, but that she thinks it's just gone. Such nonchalance!

They're like children having children - so excited to have their own place that they just keep getting pet after pet. I wanted to shake them and ask what in the hell they think a pet is - a toy?! In my opinion, getting a pet is like having a child that never grows up. Your pet's safety and health will be a constant responsibility. Evidently these kids either don't realize that, or are in no way ready for that responsibility. And a tiny baby bunny is going to pay the price for their negligence.

We never did find the bunny, although Michael and I are going to look as soon as he gets home. That bunny won't last long around here. Between our dog and their cat, it's sure to get hurt or killed - if it doesn't get run over or starve to death. (In my experience, domesticated bunnies don't know what to eat in a yard.) You'd better believe that if I find that bunny, I'm not giving it back.

And let me tell you, if that puppy they plan on getting gets out of the yard all the time, I'll complain to Animal Control or whoever else will listen...

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