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Looking out my Backdoor: Don't mess with us!


Last updated 2/24/2022 at 9:18am

I thought long and hard before taking on the responsibility of adopting a pooch.

Lola has proven to be an asset to my life. If nothing else, she gets me out the door several times a day for short walks, for little chats, for daily interactions. She’s taught me when she wants to be brushed, when she wants a walk-about, when she wants her belly scratched, that sort of thing.

My neighbors, Josue and Erika, have two small poochies, Snowball, aged and toothless, and Princess, who showed up the year I moved here. Both are barkers, with small dog voices, though no less irritating for that. If something seems unusual in their world or a stranger is around, they sound the alarm. We pay attention.

Lola, my new companion, has a loud harsh voice, in comparison to her buddies next door. Really loud. As soon as the intruder is gone, the dogs settle down to silence. We know that when the dogs bark, something or someone is afoot. The dogs do not bark without reason. They do not yammer on just to hear the sound of their own voices, unlike … never mind.

Last night, Snowball and Princess began the bark concert. Whatever was going on seemed to be on the other side of us. Until Lola joined the chorus with an explosion of louder-than-normal-loud, aggressive and if I were to give human interpretation, the only kind I know, fearful barking that did not let up in either volume or intensity after several minutes.

Me? I was snuggled in bed under my down comforter. I was not about to get up and go outside. My theory was another possum. Or perhaps the same possum returned with vengeance in mind. An attack possum? Anything is possumable.

Josue and Erika had other ideas. They came over with flashlights in hand, “Sondra, are you okay?” I opened a window so we could see one another and we agreed, “Somebody must be snooping around. This is too unusual. Unless it is a possum. Might be a possum.”

They checked the bodega, the tool tunnel between the bodega and the walls, the back yard. Nothing seemed amiss. Erika went back home for a baseball bat. Josue checked all the other properties.

He also decided to turn on the water for Kathy’s lawn, to let it water overnight. While bent over the spigot, a light flashed on in Kathy’s house. Kathy and Richard are in Victoria at present. Nobody is home.

Very carefully, Josue slid up the wall and peeked into the window. A man was standing in the kitchen. Josue squatted down so his cell phone would not illuminate his face, and called Erika to phone the police. He continued to stay on guard, a dumb thing to do, but would any of us have done differently?

The intruder nonchalantly went from room to room, turning on lights, obviously not understanding how nosey we neighbors can be, though the way the houses are situated, nobody has direct sight into any other’s homes.

Within minutes, which surely seemed long minutes to Josue, body plastered against the outside wall, but peeking through the window to keep track of the man’s proceedings, the police showed up. Josue explained the situation. The police went inside and took the man into custody, and hauled him away to the hoosegow, but not before giving Josue a stern lecture for taking such dangerous chances.

Everybody is safe. Nothing was taken or damaged except the jimmied lock. The only thing we lost was sleep.

What we gained is knowledge of Lola’s barking intensity. We know the usual, somebody walking the lane, neighborhood dogs cruising through, that sort of thing. Now we know how to interpret “Danger.”

Josue and Erika have my greatest appreciation. They always have looked after me. They keep a watchful eye out for all of us, for any activity that shouldn’t be, especially at night.

And Lola gets an extra big bone from the butcher today. Along with other assets, she is a lovable, huggable early-warning system of danger.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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