Thursday, April 03, 2014

Jip Next Door

"At last he came out, and then I saw my own Dora hang up the bird-cage, and peep into the balcony to look for me, and run in again when she saw I was there, while Jip remained behind, to bark injuriously at an immense butcher's dog in the s...treet, who could have taken him like a pill."
- Charles Dickens, from "David Copperfield"

I like Charles Dickens for many reasons, but one of them is that a little yappy dog is a peripheral but recurring character in "David Copperfield."

This dog, Jip, has a great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson by the name of Sammy who lives next door to me. I think of Dickens, and Jip, every time I see Sammy, or, more correctly, every time he sees me, because honestly I don't go out of my way to look for him. But he hones in on me with keen, radar-like precision.

Sammy sees me in a variety of contexts. I will, at times, stand at my kitchen window because that's where the sink is, and I use the sink for a variety of purposes, most involving running water. This sets Sammy off into a righteous fit of howling and yapping. I am in my house. Sammy is in his house. We are separated by two panes of glass, an expanse of lawn, and a driveway, but this is far too close for Sammy's comfort, and the thought of me filling a glass of water in my own home is apparently enough of a threat to result in bared teeth, menacing (to the extent that rat-like canines can be menacing) growling, and outraged barking. It's worse if I actually venture out of the house; to, say, put something in a trash cash, or, worse yet, walk the entire length of my back yard to my garage. This requires walking beside the fence that divides my yard from Sammy's, a 60-foot gauntlet that features a frothing-at-the-mouth, jumping, twirling, barking little ball of outraged fur every step of the way.

I like my neighbors. They are sweet, calm people. Sammy also barks and yaps at them incessantly, although perhaps with slightly less vigor and outrage than he exhibits when he sees me. I don't know how they stand it.

I like dogs, by the way. Really I do. Man's best friend, and all that. I get it. But I don't get Sammy. Apparently Dickens encountered his ancient ancestor and lived to write about it.

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