Saturday, August 12, 2006

Double Wide Fought the Law and Double Wide Probably Won

Greetings Double Wide fans!

Sorry for the lack of updates but, hard to believe, Double Wide hasn’t engaged in any of his usual white trashy entertainment. Of note, however, he appears to have gained another housemate—and one with, oh boy oh boy, big stereo speakers! Double Wide also seems to have gone out and gotten himself one of those wraparound bicep tattoos. I don’t really follow tattoo trends, but I think that’s several years past. But not in the Double Wide universe!

Given the skimpy new adventures to relate, I think I’ll take you back in time to my initial encounter with Double Wide. My wife and I have been in our house for a little over six years now, and in the first two Double Wide’s current house was occupied by around fifteen dozen students. No, really. In the morning, we would see a steady stream of people emerging with backpacks, presumably on their way to class. It was like clowns getting out of a car at the circus. Accordingly, it became known as the Clown House.

However, after two years and at least one citation from the city for the garbage on the lawn and pigeons living in the exposed vents, the circus left town and a new group of future welfare state beneficiaries moved in. My memory is that it was Double Wide and a couple girls. And a puppy. A nice looking black lab cross that was given free run of the neighbourhood. Which meant it regarded all the yards on the block as it’s urine and feces dumping ground. I had my own dog at the time and didn’t need to clean up after two, so I went over there to inform them that they had to tie up their dog for several reasons: (1) it’s disrespectful to their neighbours; (2) it’s the law; (3) it would be a matter of time before the puppy ran away and/or got hit by a car. The girl who answered the door looked like I had caught her between puffs on the crack pipe, and seemed completely oblivious to what I was saying. No, really. No exaggeration here. Rather than continue talking to myself, I went home.

Not long after that, the dog was once again running loose, in and out of our yard. So I went over again, this time encountering our hero, Double Wide! I went through the same routine and claimed to agree, but said it wasn’t his dog so there was nothing he could do. I said that regardless of whose dog it is, I’d be calling Animal Control after that. He shrugged and closed the door. End Phase One.

Begin Phase Two. After that first year, the two girls moved out but the dog stayed. Which would make the dog the responsibility of Double Wide’s, no? You would think. It was spring and the dog once again took to roaming the neighbourhood, aided by both a lack of chain and a literal open door policy (i.e. when Double Wide was home, the front door was left wide open, letting the dog come and go as it pleased). But lest you think that Double Wide was not an attentive owner, whenever he wanted the dog to come home, he’d wander out on his steps, often just in his underwear, and yell in a hoarse tobacco/gin voice, “Cheeeeeeeee!” Or “Goddammit Cheeeeeee!” (Note: I don’t know if the dog’s name is Chee or Chi or Chief. Or maybe even Gee.) Over the course of the summer, both myself and my neighbours complained to Animal Control about the dog, and a representative came out … and nothing happened. The status quo ruled. Regardless of the numerous complaints, the dog ran free. A lesson to be learned regarding the city’s by-laws, to be sure (in case you’re wonder, the by-law states that a first offence carries a $50 fine, second $100, and subsequent $250; I naively assumed that because we had made complaints, he had been issued those fines. But, as I explain below, that wasn’t the case.)

No we’re up to year three and the dog is fully grown. And more aware of its territory. And going after people who come near the house. As in walk on the sidewalk or bike by on the street. Keep in mind the open door policy, allowing the dog to be in the house and still go after people. Which is what happened one evening to a young boy delivering flyers. The boy wasn’t hurt because he got back on his bike and pedaled away, but he must have quit the job because I never saw him deliver in our area again. So I went back to Double Wide to inform him that enough really was enough. As before, he shrugged his shoulders. Regarding any potential fines, he told me, “It’s just money.” Which I took as a bit of a challenge. So I started issuing complaints over every incident (previously I had been only filing them after I accumulated ten or so) and, on a friend’s advice, started taking pictures of the dog running loose. I also talked to my neighbours, who had their own stories about friends or kids beings chased. (I urged them to complain to Animal Control, but, to my knowledge, none ever did. Thanks, gang!)

Our hero patiently awaiting his loyal pal, after setting him loose on the neighbourhood to have a piss, take a crap.

Begin Phase Three. Submitting photos seemed to have some effect on the folks at Animal Control because now some actual fines were being levied. One of the officers there told me that, despite the photos, Double Wide denied (1) that the dog was on the loose and (2) the dog was his. (It should be noted, however, that whenever Animal Control visited, Double Wide would make an effort to at least monitor his dog for a couple weeks. And then, as is his way, he’d revert to his lazy, irresponsible ways and would just leave the door open.) And, of course, he refused to pay. Which was regarded as pleading not guilty. So, I got to go to court as witness to two events, one of the many running loose charges and the chasing of the delivery boy. To no one’s surprise, Double Wide didn’t bother to show up at court. The judge found him guilty on the two counts ($50 and $100) plus another $100 for contempt (not showing up). Remarkably, the judge was initially inclined to show leniency and give him the benefit of the doubt because he wasn’t there to defend himself(!) but the prosecutor persuaded her that that was Double Wide’s choice and he shouldn’t benefit from his own irresponsibility.

So, yay? I mean, yeah, he was fined $250—and I have no way of knowing if he was ever forced to pay it—but this was after 3+ years of nonsense and fairly regular complaining. As much as it’s on Double Wide to act with some maturity and respect for his neighbours, the lesson to be learned, so it seems, is that only suckers follow the bylaws.

Since the court ruling, however, Double Wide has invested in a chain and leash—and it took just four years!—and the dog is chained him a fair amount of the time, especially since Double Wide has acquired some housemates. However, over the past month, the old ways of the open door policy are re-emerging. More, unfortunately, as it develops …

Next entry: The other animals in Double Wide’s life!


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