Dogs & More (5/10)

Macy M4 comments2066 views

**Trigger warnings still stand: If you’re easily bothered by things such as suicide, rape, child abuse, animal neglect, sex trafficking, narcissist behavior, and maybe some other related topics, you should skip these posts. It’s not my regular happy-go-lucky sort of deal. Previous posts here: (1/10) (2/10) (3/10) (4/10)** 

The dog’s continued to be a daily problem

One day James was working under the tiny house, I think he was taking the axle off so we could get the skirting on. One of their pit bulls, Mocha, walks up to him and bit his leg! She just grabbed on and tried to shake him. He whacked her with the wrench he was holding and then walked over to me to make sure the kids were safe. I feel bad because I kind of shook it off. The dogs, that one in particular, was ALWAYS at our place and always barked at us aggressively, but, to that point, hadn’t bitten. He kind of shook it off too and just asked me to help make sure the kids aren’t near her.

Shortly after that, I was painting rocks with the kids when Ava got home from school. She saw us outside and came to chat. I invited her to paint with us. So we are all out looking for rocks when this same dog just walks up to me and bites me on the thigh! She didn’t break the skin but I had a pretty good bruise. It was completely unprovoked! We took it as another opportunity to have another chat with Hawg. A little more serious now. Keep the dogs off our property. He apologized and said the deer must have taken down his fence and he’d try to fix it. I’m not sure he ever even had a fence but we certainly didn’t have anymore deer. The dogs drove them off long before.

These were the dogs

There were four main dogs, Lady and Mocha, who belonged to Coco. LJ, Marley, who belonged to Hawg. Lady was a pitbull/boxer-ish mutt. Mocha, is one of her puppies from a while back who was mostly pitbull. Lady belonged to Ava. Mocha was deemed CoCo’s emotional support animal. She got her that designation because sho couldn’t find housing at a point and it was a way to make it illegal for her to turn away based on dogs. The worst behaved dog I have ever seen is Mocha. I legit think she had brain damage coupled with her aggression. She could stand next to you for 3 hours and NEVER stop barking. We had to yell over her barks just to have conversations about the barn work.

LJ and Marley belonged to Hawg and his ex-wife. They were brothers and little schnauzer/chihuahua mixes. The both looked like little anteaters but one was the size of a schnauzer, one was the size of a chihuahua. I guess he got the dogs, she got everything else.

Along with these 4, they moved in with a Husky mix named Paisley. Paisley was the best behaved of all the dogs. I am pretty sure she thought Denver was handsome. He adored her, too. He’s always had a thing for Huskies. She would come down and sleep on our tiny house steps. I think she spent more time here than she did at their place. She actually was a sweetheart, too. She loved the kids and I don’t think she had a mean bone in her body.

Before we hired Hawg

We noticed Paisley getting a little belly. We found out she, Lady and ‘probably Mocha’ all got pregnant. They were cursing the neighbors lab for coming onto their property (which we found amusing since they literally let all five of their dogs go to ours without a second thought). But then they found out it was a family members dog that knocked them up. Lady and Paisley ended up having a litter over the winter. Denver was pretty sure he was responsible and willingly shared his food with Paisley, and ONLY Paisley. (he’s neutered but not the brightest bulb in the house… but he’s loyal!)

When we came back up after winter they had 14 dogs. They decided to keep two of the puppies. At first it was one from each litter but I guess Lady was having alpha dog issues and was attacking Paisley and her puppies. They opted instead to keep two of the puppies, siblings of their crazy dog mocha, and daughters of their other crazy dog, Lady. And they got rid of Paisley and all of her puppies.

Then they took in another dog

A chow chow, that belonged to one of Hawg’s other ex wifes, Achilles. It was police ordered to be put down for biting. Instead of doing that, she just gave him to Hawg. The first time we meet Achilles, Hawg says, “I’m surprised he didn’t attack Denver. He doesn’t like men so, James, keep your distance around this one”.

We were on our property.

He released a dog from his truck, fully expecting he would attack our dog. This AFTER being asked, countless times, to keep his dogs off of our property. While I am also glad he didn’t go after Denver, I was thoroughly appalled at the action. Achilles is also the dog that aggressed my dad when they came to see the grandkids for a couple days. I had to grab him and physically walk him up the hill and have a stern chat with Hawg.

One day, not long after that, I heard sirens in the distance. Then I had a passing thought, ‘that was the first time I had heard sirens out of the city, how nice.’ Then also, ‘wouldn’t it be weird if they came here…’

They came up our driveway…

Turns out, that dog that didn’t attack Denver, attacked a little boy. Coco’s nephew. He ended up having to go to the hospital for what they thought was a collapsed lung. It didn’t end up being that bad but again, the dog was ordered to be put down. So they gave it back to his ex-wife. As far as I know, the dog still lives to bite more people.

Still, daily and nightly we are sending texts, ‘please call your dogs back.’ ‘They are at our place pooping’ ‘They are here, barking.’ ‘Marley just peed on our patio furniture, that we are sitting in.’ ‘Lady is roaming our hillside again.’ ‘They are hunting our cat.’ etc. and so on ad nauseam. We long ago stopped feeling safe letting our kids roam freely.

At least there was somewhat of a rhythm to the dog’s actions, so I set timers. Alexa would tell us, “It’s time to find Denver” a couple minutes before Ava’s bus dropped her off. The dogs almost always came down to meet her.

We would watch them take off after the deer and moose. Each time we let Hawg know they were roaming. We’d either hear that it “must not be their dogs, they wouldn’t do that.” or “At least they keep the coyotes away.”

We have eyes, it was their dogs.

And I would have preferred 100 coyotes over their dogs. It was not a comfort.

1 year ago

This time last year we could tell their relationship was strained. Coco drove more erratic, more often. And Hawg would openly complain about her moods. Coco spent most of her waking hours yelling at someone or another.

The thing about this valley is that it has great acoustics. If we try, we can literally hear conversations our neighbors have from WAY across the way. We have made a pact with the other neighbors that we won’t rat each-other out when either of us are having our perfectly normal relationship issues. Coco was apparently completely oblivious that we can hear everything she yelled. I think the yelling bounced off our barn and made it even easier to hear, actually. I think they thought they were out in the boonies so anything goes. Their fights were a constant background noise of our time outdoors.

Both of them got real short tempered with us when we would ask them to call their dogs back up from our property. James and I generally took turns doing the asking. Once, I texted Hawg to call them back as they were chasing our cat at our barn. He replied and told me that “I’m really tired of this shit! If I could afford to buy 800 acres and not have any neighbors, I would!’ I just said, “you’re tired, imagine how we feel!? I also wish you could afford that. But you can’t, so we have to handle this.”

He later apologized for his temper with me.

The dogs still roamed freely.

Part of his parole included not buying alcohol

He instead bought a still and started making his own. He did it under the guise that he was trying to make his own fuel for his generator (which I admit, is kind of cool… dangerous though). For Christmas he gave us a bunch of his moonshine. Again, he didn’t know we knew the conditions of his parole. We took this as a bit of a sign that stuff was going to start happening pretty soon. He was pretty open about how alcohol made Coco uncomfortable. Also about how he makes poor decisions when he drinks. So at some point, that stopped mattering to him.

For Christmas, James and I got each other new keypad doorknobs so we could stop carrying around a key to unlock every door we now, for the first time in our lives, felt we needed to keep locked.

The other weird part

Early spring, 2021, Coco ‘friended’ me on Facebook. I had spend the last year+ blocked and she had never once acted ‘friendly’, so it was suspicious. The moment she did I actually told James, “they must be fighting and she’s trying to put out strings to keep eyes on Hawg or the property.” In no way did I think her sudden want to befriend me was without a motive. But I accepted… because she is the neighbor. Also it gave me a little intel on where she was emotionally, so I could gauge her driving patterns.

She actually made some efforts to talk with me, too, which was weird and a little alarming if I’m being honest. One afternoon I was out cleaning our compost toilet when she apparently grabbed our mail from our box and drove it off the beaten path to our front door in an effort to start chatting with me. Holding a conversation while handling human compost is uncomfortable with the best of company. Oddly, it made her seem more normal.

She definitely had a more natural cadence to her words. It was wild to see her be able to actually hold a conversation, awkward as it was. I had never before seen it. It was also awkward because she acted like it was our first meeting and not like we actually had a long and strained history. She chatted with me like any normal person would, giggling and asking generic questions. It felt more like a normal first meeting than our actual first meeting for sure. I wasn’t actually interested in conversing though and I had a hard time figuring out why she suddenly wanted to. And for so long! It was over a half hour she chatted like we were long lost besties. It felt like she was somehow casing our place, but maybe I imagined that. Either way, it was more bizarre behavior.

Our conversation

She told me several different ways that she ‘saved the day’ for someone. She was the hero of all of her narratives. The big story though was how she ended up taking legal guardianship of her nephew (the one that was bitten by the dog). She apparently just got a ‘raise’ from the state in order to cover his added food and supply needs. It was a big win for her. His mom had passed away when he was little and his dad (Coco’s brother) went back to jail after a drug bender. She told me about all the toys she got him for Christmas and how happy he was with her. She said how much better he was eating since she was taking care of him.

He, a year younger than Ava, apparently was found, alone in his mobile home for days, sleeping with a toaster under his bedsheets to keep warm over the winter. It was a heartbreaking conversation that gave me a lot of feelings to juggle. I remember I actually teared up in front of her, hearing about the life this poor kid had been living. Right in this town I love.

I thought, ‘yay, good for him,’ but this is still weird that you’re talking to me’. Then, I went inside the house and told James, they must be having more problems if she’s trying to befriend me. I also mentioned how it looked like she was casing our place. It didn’t make any sense but I KNEW she was trying to work some angle because it was completely out of character for her. And it was pure uncomfortable.

The little boy came to live with them

He was 9 when I met him. Full of questions about ‘why do you spray thistles, does it hurt them or help them?’ ‘what’s this for?’ “how do you that?’ We folded him into all of our interactions. He too was a sweetheart that had already lived a very hard life and experienced more than his share of trauma. Still, he was so kind. On his own, he made us a thank you card for the pies we made them and was so excited to run it down and give it to us personally. You could tell just how proud he was to be our friend.

Kids are amazing.

Later that school year I asked Ava where her cousin was because I didn’t see him walking up with her anymore after school. She said “We gave him back, he was just too much drama. He started cutting himself. He just wanted way too much attention.”

My heart broke for that sweet boy.

He was just a little kid with so much betrayal. I still think a lot about him and I hope he is in a better place. I fear that’s unlikely though. He has a lot to work through in this life. Unless someone takes a strong initiative to help him gain the tools needed, it might be too much for him to get through in one life. Moving in with his uncaring aunt and her registered offender husband and their wildly aggressive dogs that sent him to the hospital was a step up as far as the legal system was concerned.

Trauma is HARD.

The pressure just grew and grew

Over the summer we started hearing the fights more and we stopped seeing the dogs as much. I believe this is because Hawg had started a new rabbit food production business and was out in his barn working. The dogs usually stayed close by him if he was out. Coco would scream through the valley. She got passive aggressive with her facebooking. All of the ‘I love you babe’s were long gone. She clearly wasn’t happy with Hawg. He would stay away all day bucking hay sometimes and come back at dark to her yelling. Hawg was irritable but didn’t really change in persona with us, he just seemed stressed.

Ava’s entire demeanor changed though. She didn’t smile as readily and would only offer a passing wave and a half smile if we said hi. If she was driving through with her mom she would look down if she saw us, so we didn’t engage. This is the usual time for teen angst to take over but we suspected more might be going on. We thought maybe she was just upset the whole house was fighting so much. She was often the target of her moms yelling. Maybe she saw the writing on the walls that her time uphill was coming to an end? Or maybe something else was happening. We didn’t know. She kind of stopped talking with us altogether then.

We did our next best things to prepare

It was the end of summer now and our niece was getting married in Chicago soon. This whole thing has felt like a series of reactions to situations while also trying to prepare for the real car wreck yet to come. We had no idea what that would be but we could feel something big undoubtedly coming.

So we set up some video cameras around our property (no easy or cheap thing on an off-grid homestead BTW). I was vocal about it on Facebook now that Coco could read my posts. We wanted her to know we could see her if she tried anything while we were gone. I made some post about having the cameras installed around the property ‘to keep an eye on the cat’. Then I followed them up with several reminders about how we know the cat is alive and well because we can watch her on the cameras. I was also sure to not post the images or the number of cameras installed so their locations wouldn’t be known. This had nothing to do with our cat, we were sure she would be fine. This was 100% a warning to the neighbors.

The cameras gave us much peace of mind. I am confident they saved us some headaches, too. There were a lot of wild things that happened while we were in Chicago.

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