The dog police, part 2

Part 1 here.

And as I said at the end of that, it’s not over yet.

After the last incident, I sent a friendly letter to our neighbourhood git suggesting politely that we might be adult about things and have a conversation about his issues with living next to Oliver. Failing that, perhaps we could reach an agreement regarding our mutual behaviour and avoid each other at all times.

I did not receive a reply.

Instead, I was told by another neighbour that the police had once again been at my apartment as they were called out regarding a vicious attack claim. Being the conscientious young man (read geek) that I am, I started reading about dog law.

31602. ‘Potentially dangerous dog’ means any of the following: (a) Any dog which, when unprovoked, ontwo separate occasions within the prior 36-month period, engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury when the person and the dog are off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog. (b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, bites a person causing a less severe injury than as defined in Section 31604. (c) Any dog which, when unprovoked, on two separate occasions within the prior 36-month period, has killed, seriously bitten, inflicted injury, or otherwise caused injury attacking a domestic animal off the property of the owner or keeper of the dog.

31603. ‘Vicious dog, means any of the following: (a) Any dog seized under Section 599aa of the Penal Code and upon the sustaining of a conviction of the owner or keeper under subdivision (a) of Section 597.5 of the Penal Code. (b) Any dog which, when unprovoked, in an aggressive manner, inflicts severe injury on or kills a human being. (c) Any dog previously determined to be and currently listed as a potentially dangerous dog which, after its owner or keeper has been notified of this determination, continues the behavior described in Section 31602 or is maintained in violation of Section 31641, 31642, or 31643.

By these definitions, Oliver is not even a potentially dangerous dog, let alone a vicious dog. I should remind the reader that the gentleman bringing these claims is a lawyer and really should know this stuff.

I should also reiterate that I only know of two occasions when I’ve even seen the neighbour, and he and Oliver never had contact.

Anyway, legal technicalities aside, I have been summoned to a hearing to determine if Oliver poses a danger to society. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad that a person can be so bitter, so angry at the world, that he’d rather take the time to file a claim and go to a hearing than just sit down and have a conversation.

So here I am preparing evidence of Oliver’s temperament and pulling up logs of email conversations with my building manager, all to satisfy the whim of some twisted old coot with too much time on his hands. I just hope he realises the seriousness of his actions; that someone who is less prepared and less conscientious might have their dog destroyed, just because he doesn’t like them. I can only, in my optimistic outlook, assume that he really doesn’t understand what a dog means to an owner. How they are part of the family just as much as a child would be.

The alternative, that he understands exactly what he’s doing and is pursuing this nonsense with vindictiveness and determination, is too awful to comprehend.

Jamie Oliver’s talk in acceptance of the TED prize 2010. A brilliant talk reminding us why knowledge is such an important thing to share with the next generation.

The dog police

It’s been a while since I’ve had any juicy stories to post, and this is a doozy. First, as always, a little background.

In the first week in this new apartment, I had an interaction with my new neighbour. He was halfway down the corridor outside my apartment, I was at the door. We were a good four metres apart. Oliver, being Oliver, strained at his leash to say ‘Hi’ to this new person. He didn’t bark, he didn’t growl, he may have panted excitedly. A few days later, we received word that an official complaint had been entered against our aggressive dog. This is Oliver we’re talking about.

I felt briefly outraged before putting it down to some childhood experience he’d had with a dog, and resolved to stay out of his way. A few days later we were vindicated as the building manager finally met Oliver and spent some time cooing over him before apologising for the misunderstanding.

Cut to today.

Between then and now, the only glimpses I’ve had of this neighbour have been as he’s been arriving or leaving in his car; there has been no interaction between us at all. Today, as myself and Mirto entered the building with Oliver and Eddie, we saw our neighbour and his wife entering the other end of the lobby. Being the considerate sorts, we stayed at the entrance to allow them to enter the elevator first.

Instead, the neighbour walked towards us in an aggressive manner before dropping some files he was carrying on a bench that runs along the side of the lobby. At this, Oliver reacts quite normally for a dog by barking. Once. Please note that he didn’t stand up, strain at his leash, growl, snarl, snap, slobber or bite. He barked. Once.

Our neighbour uttered a phrase that is about as diplomatic a conversation starter as assassinating Archduke Ferdinand:

“You should put a muzzle on that thing.”

If you don’t own a dog, that may seem like a reasonable suggestion. If you do, however, that’s akin to telling a parent to muzzle their screaming baby. I responded by telling him he was being ridiculous at which point I was informed that if I did not muzzle him, he would report my dog as aggressive.

It’s worth an aside here to note how fearsome this threat is. The power to have a government service swoop in and take a dog from an owner parallels that of having social services swoop in to take a child into care. It is a very powerful threat and should never be used lightly to a dog owner.

Sadly, at this point I lost my temper and called him an arsehole. Not my finest hour, I’ll admit, and I instantly regretted it. Well, almost instantly. First I told his wife she should muzzle her husband.

Anyway, once upstairs I realised I’d crossed a line and decided to apologise immediately. As they exited the elevator I stepped out of my apartment and offered my sincere apologies for swearing at and insulting him. I was told most emphatically that the apology was not accepted and to get lost.

Just as the initial shock of the altercation was dying down, we had some friends arrive and, three-and-a-half hours and a bottle of wine later had mostly forgotten about the incident, or at least had relegated it to the frustrating and disappointing folder.

Then it was time for the nightly walk so we left the apartment and went down to the lobby to find, wait for it, the neighbour, his wife, and two police officers. As we walked through them, I willed Oliver to be on his best behaviour and he was a shining example of well-mannered dogginess. As we got to the front door, I heard “That’s them, officer” and stifled a chuckle at the cliche.

Turning around, I was ushered outside by an officer who asked me to stay around to give my statement. I expressed my surprise and made it clear I wasn’t sure exactly what horrible crime I was meant to be describing, and he made it clear that he didn’t know why he was there either. Skipping the gory details, twenty minutes later the police were driving away as baffled as we were about their inclusion in this tale, and I’m now trying to shrug the whole thing off as the result of a sad little man feeling scared and not knowing how to deal with it.

I have a feeling this is not over yet.