by Dell Franklin
Just about every weekday afternoon, at around 3 o’clock, Wilbur, my 10-year-old, 95-pound chocolate Lab, sunning himself on my spacious terrace, hears Randy Crozier, otherwise known as “The Pirate” and resident boozer at the downtown Schooner’s Wharf, returning from work as a builder and approach our residence in his loud, growling 25-year-old truck. Wilbur immediately tears to the railing, tail wagging frantically, drooling, pacing, as Crozier pulls over, steps out and lobs a couple biscuits up on the terrace, which Wilbur instantly devours and returns to the railing to watch Crozier turn down the street below us and park three doors down. Wilbur rewards Crozier for his generosity by peeing on his tires when we walk down that street.
Wilbur has admittedly developed habits unbreakable. I was walking him the other morning around the corner from Crozier and along the same route I’ve been walking dogs in this neighborhood for 17-plus years when the blinds went up at a new residence and a stern voice blurted, very curtly, “I’d appreciate it if your dog didn’t pee on my bushes, thank you.” His “thank you” was very dismissive and condescending, as if Wilbur and I were trash when for years we’ve been regarded as harmless if a little eccentric and unruly of appearance due to the gentrification of Cayucos.
I paused after Wilbur peed on the bush and faced the narrowly opened blinds and laughed in a jeering manner as the blinds snapped shut. Wilbur and I continued on past signs on some yards of a dog squatting to shit and a red arrow running through it. I try and refrain from allowing Wilbur to shit on any lawn, but in case he does I keep plastic poop bags like a thoughtful neighbor. This little grid of a neighborhood is rife with dogs of all sizes and we’re all pretty respectful and affectionate toward each others’ dogs. So far no signs have popped up of a dog lifting his leg to pee with a red arrow running through it. As far as I know these signs don’t exist. Dogs here and everywhere are hard pressed NOT to pee on every fire hydrant they pass, as well as plants, bushes, mailbox posts, fence posts, tires, trash cans, or any object other dogs have peed on, and if you try to stop them they fight hard and become confused and perhaps unhappy.
This is THEIR time.
I’m concerned about this guy who lurks near his window so early in the morning laying in wait for miscreants like Wilbur and myself who are used to roving around with impunity. Has he maintained this vigilance with all the tiny dogs and pretty pedigrees walked by ladies wearing designer sunglasses and toting Evian bottles of water? Does he have it in for Wilbur and me? I recall him glaring at us and issuing a muttered, grudging “hello” when I greeted him with an ebullient “hello” one afternoon as I allowed Wilbur off the leash to indulge in some frenzied sniffing and peeing. Since then, I’ve made sure to leash Wilbur and wonder: Has this guy employed a hi-tech surveillance system to catch dogs peeing on his newly planted bushes so he can gather an enemies list and confront them, too?
My problem with this guy is he’s the first person ever in all my 71 years that I’ve ever heard of having a problem with dogs peeing on his or her bushes. What he needs to understand is that before he moved here Wilbur had already established territorial rights on his property and has no inclination whatsoever to relinquish them. Wilbur jerks and pulls me to that bush, threatening my bad knee, hip and shoulder. It is a vital part of his peeing grounds, just as he leads me invariably to the same shitting grounds and shows displeasure if another dog has violated these grounds. And this is all set off by his sniffing mechanism, which controls his every instinctive action and reaction.
The blinds went up at a new residence and a stern voice blurted, very curtly, “I’d appreciate it if your dog didn’t pee on my bushes, thank you.”
Anyway, I’m in a quandary about this situation. One friend warned me about pushing it and advised me to avoid this street, home and bush so as not to trigger a confrontation, which in my past history has led to threats and violence and the police called in. “Be big,” he said. “And let this asshole be small.”
Another advisor said “You’re too old to get worked up and involved over such a petty predicament. And besides, you’re too crippled to fight like in the old days.”
Sorry, but I just can’t get over this. I’ve always hated authoritative tight-asses trying to control my behavior. I’ve got a good notion to purposely have Wilbur pee on his putrid little bush and wait for him to snap open that blind so I can explain to him that Wilbur cannot live without sniffing this bush every day to find out who else has peed on it and then pee on it himself, and if he doesn’t like it, well, build a goddamn fence to keep all the goddamn dogs in the neighborhood from peeing on his goddamn bush!
Or, I could come by without Wilbur while he’s obsessively maintaining his vehicles or premises and explain very diplomatically that it is the destiny of every living dog to pee on any bush any other dog has peed on and if this is interfered with it destroys the harmony dogs have brought to this and every neighborhood in America and perhaps the world.
Is his precious bush so important it antagonizes the entire neighborhood, especially when I’ve lived here so long and know everybody on HIS street as well as the surrounding grid and will soon inform all of them about his antics regarding Wilbur and myself? Does he realize that in a case like this EVERYBODY is on Wilbur’s side and that automatically puts them on MY side? Does he know that his immediate neighbor, Crozier, has lived here since he was a child and loves Wilbur as his own and has a history of unchecked vengeance when he feels his friends are being wronged?
Maybe I should leave a business card from my lawyer, Gifford Beaton, Esq., a heavy hitter who resides in San Luis Obispo, on his bush, with these words, “I am Wilbur’s lawyer and anybody trifling with his peeing habits will be taken to court!” §
Dell Franklin writes from his home in Cayucos, Calif., where he and Wilbur spend their days when not peeing on bushes in the neighborhood. He’s the author of The Ballplayer’s Son.