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My Vanity Pit Bull

Our new downstairs neighbors, neither of whom, it is now obvious, went to New Trier, mark their days with a series of scents that force their ways through the air vents into to our apartment. At ten in the morning, sandalwood incense; four in the afternoon, the alcohol smell of lysol; eight o’clock in the evening, a smell of searing meat like liver. But most pernicious of all is the smell of neglect they give to their vanity dog, who is not just a vanity dog, but a vanity pit bull. That smell wafts through our vents at all hours of the day and night and is so strong you can feel it, vibrations to shake a house, like those you feel when a large dog throws himself through a front door. The smell, which is not always a smell, is pungent and nauseating.

The pit bull is all energy, waiting to be spent. But they never walk him. I haven’t seen them play with him in the backyard. I’m sure they talk to him, but it might be incidental talk. They spend much of their days out and leave him locked inside. The dog has done everything he can to tell them they mistreat him: he has jumped through three screen doors and one antique glass-fronted door; last week he tore something down that again shook the house; late at night, after the girls have left for the bars, the pit bull does not cry pitiably, but barks incessantly, which they cannot hear.

Last night he got out again. I woke up at 5 o’clock this morning to the sound of the pit bull barking, sometimes closer, sometimes farther away. I didn’t have to get out of bed to know what was going on: like last time, pat your knees, coax your dog, then chase after him with the idea of catching and subduing him (a pit bull!) or of herding him into the gaping doorway of the house. The dog, loving the game— it’s the only one he ever plays—runs away and barks. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ask a drunk walking by to help. He shouts obscenities, growls, laughs, and leaves. While this was going on, I fell back asleep. When I woke, I discovered the final part of the game, at least according to New Trier: Give up. From our window I saw the dog at the neighbor’s, barking at a squirrel. No one else was outside, and when I went downstairs, the house’s front door was wide open, I presume in hope the dog would tire and come home. I went outside. The dog saw me. I walked to the backyard, where the dog has a Santa Claus he tears to shreds. The dog followed, tentatively, barking a little, but I ignored him. I walked to Santa. The dog did too. But now he was in the gate, so I turned around and shut the gate behind me, leaving him to guard the back yard, while I went to unguard the front.



Maybe you should get a BB gun.

For what, to shoot the neighbors?

Yeah…that’s exactly what I meant, the neighbors.

Seriously it sounds like a friendly dog, considering the life it has to lead. I read an article once about pit bulls that said they bite much less often than normal dogs. The problem of course is that if they do, it results in serious injury or death.

I’ve watched enough of the Dog Whisperer, and I am reasonably comfortable around dogs anyway, to know what’s going on. The dog’s young and bored, and he needs his people to exercise him (it’s amazing how docile a dog can become when he’s been worked out) and spend good time with him. I think pit bulls are also needy dogs—they’re very social, anyway—and they’re big, so they’re really high maintenance. This poor dog doesn’t have anyone caring for him to suit his needs. It’s really sad. It’s why I’d much prefer to expend my BBs on the neighbors. Give the dog a better home, and he'll be lovely.

Hey! The dog whisperer has a blog! (I know, I know—who doesn’t?)

yes, p-b’s are very intelligent, very high maintenance, very active dogs… and like any dog the need to be properly cared for or they will become destructive…

and you shouldn’t have a dog if you aren’t going to take care of it properly… both for the dog’s sake, your friends and neighbors and your own sanity

No kidding. In my former life as a dog-walker I saw a number of dogs (though none of them were pit bulls) who were neglected and poorly behaved and unhealthy as a result. It was really sad. The worst were the people who had us come morning, noon, and night. . . I mean, why do these people have dogs, when they clearly don’t spend any time with them at all? Grr. . . . Okay, rant over.

Fresh off her arrest, the pit bull owner is home, and so is the pit bull. She and her roommate were always big partiers, and now that school’s out (or they took the registrar’s offer to take their grade as-is post-tornado) they have taken to partying any night of the week. Of course, now that the house doesn’t have a porch, we hear even more of what’s going on, especially everything that’s said next to the doors, including what transpired last night.

They left for the bars around 10, noisily. Bars, of course, close at 2, so we worried there’d be a problem then when they came back—it wouldn’t be the first time, and they’ve taken to spinning an interminable dance track on their stereo when they return. It’s been especially excruciating for me because I haven’t been sleeping well, but last night, because I’ve had a cold, I Nyquil’d, and it was K who woke up first. At 2.10a, they drive up (parking in the neighbor’s driveway, incidentally) and stand on the porch-platform for what must’ve been ten minutes bitching about how they couldn’t find their keys. Two neighbors, two boys—maybe boyfriends, maybe not. Stumbling into their apartment, they shout at each other for a while, then they turn on the music, then one runs outside and threatens to drive downtown but doesn’t make it far because she’s convinced to come back inside. The music plays on. By this point I was awake but in a stupor, and K was livid. She got up to go knock on the door, and in solidarity I got up too, and stood there swaying while K said, “Turn it down; we get up at 6 in the morning!” They do, but unfortunately, K couldn’t get back to sleep for an hour, and I slept, fitfully.

Fast forward to this morning, 7.20a. K is in the shower. I hear the doorbell ringing downstairs (it’s an ancient thing, a buzzer. The whole house vibrates with it.) I looked outside. It’s our landlady. She leans on the buzzer. Someone I think opened the door, but I couldn’t hear what was being said because the dog was barking. Landlady wasn’t happy in the way that would cause one to ring a doorbell angrily. Why? We could only speculate.

Why, we learned when we got home, was that neighbors hadn’t paid any rent (which, FYI, was halved this month to make up for the 2 weeks we were displaced in April): they had a “Pay Up or Get Out” notice taped to their door! And tonight, a sherrif’s deputy stopped by to alert them they’d be back if the rent wasn’t paid in 3 days.

Please, please, please, gods of a full night’s sleep, pull your strings now! Keep them from finding the money to pay!