Over the Fence
All through the spring, we watched our neighbor prepare her house for sale. She and I had developed a sweet friendship in four years, and I wasn’t looking forward to her move. We rejoiced for her when the house sold, but we hated to see her go.
She and I shared many conversations over the fence about seasons of parenthood and the annual pain in the butt of some manner of morning glory vine taking over flower beds. We traded baked goods from time to time. We also shared dogs. Her Anatolian shepherd and our silver lab roamed and romped in both yards through the freedom of a gate John made.
Beginning in July, the realtor brought prospective buyers. We kept watch for those days, as Journey knew full well that anyone besides Oliver’s person was foreign, an intruder. We didn’t let our faithful protector go out until the coast was clear.
For weeks after Oliver and his person moved, Journey continued making her way most mornings to the shade of the half-tree. She lay down facing Oliver’s house, her gaze fixed on the sliding glass door. Journey expected, at any minute, for Oliver and his person to get back from their early walk, invite her play while opening the gate, and then give her a morning treat to match Oliver’s.
When we were outside, we learned to be careful about beginning a question to Journey that started with “do you want to….” As soon as it was out of anyone’s mouth, she perked her ears, looked toward Oliver’s yard, and took off to the gate, spring in her step.
The new owner of Oliver’s house is kind and friendly, and we have had several conversations over the fence already. It’s a promising start to a neighborly relationship, even if he doesn’t have a dog.
Today, my friend brought her black lab puppy to play with Journey. The dogs ran and sniffed butts and played and ran some more while their people visited. For our human part, we talked about the joy of a dog, dog training, and how much Journey benefited from the companionship and regular interaction with that lumbering shepherd who used to live next door.
It watered my soul to watch the dogs figure each other out and run, run, run, play, play, play. It made me miss Oliver and Oliver’s human.