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Taking Spock out for a walk is usually an adventure. Are the owners of the RV down the street going to leave an open can of Turtle Wax on the sidewalk again? Are we going to see the lady who speaks in German to her dogs and in broken English to me as Spock dances away nervously from her puppy (who is the same size that he is)? Are we brave enough to walk past the house with the 3 barking corgis at 7am? (No.)

On today's adventure outside, he found some more-devoted fans than he usually does (as he is universally loved).

My boyfriend was busy mowing the lawn and tending to the yard when he saw, through the narrow space between the wooden planks of our 8-foot privacy fence, some kids in the alley behind the house. The kids stopped and were petting Spock through a hole in fence that the meter man comes to read the meter through. The next thing he knew, the kids were climbing the fence and looking into the yard at the dog. My boyfriend did not like this at all, but they left before he could say anything to them.

Just after that adventure, I took Spock for a walk, since it was a really nice day. We walked 4 streets over, where 3 young boys on bikes (the oldest was maybe 8) stopped to pet him and started talking to me about the dog. They chatted with me about their own dogs and showed me tricks on their bikes, in between Spock licking them on the legs and sniffing absolutely everything on the ground. I walked with Spock back as their conversation got more personal than I felt comfortable getting into with children I'd just met ("Where do you live?" "My dog died of a heart attack, but getting a new dog from my grandma was just like having her back" [that was more poignant than anything], etc.), and they followed us to the house, despite my growing wish and attempts to extract myself from the situation.

One particularly chatty boy looked as though he was about ready to come inside, putting down his bike in my front yard and approaching the door as I lingered at the mailbox with the dog. I must admit, I didn't want him to invite himself in, since I didn't know this boy and didn't want to worry his parents, you know? But at the same time, I felt nervous about setting boundaries and telling him he couldn't come in. I guess I didn't want to hurt their feelings if it could be helped.

I had an incident earlier this week that probably influenced my conflicting feelings today. While walking the dog before work on Thursday or so, I noticed Spock transfixed and then ecstatically jumping around and pulling at the leash for some reason. Then, I saw what was making him so excited: a house away, a nervous-looking little boy no older than 5 was frozen in his tracks at the sidewalk and front walkway of his house. From the doorway and without having seen me, his mother was almost angrily scolding him: "Aren't you keeping an eye on your brother?" At this point, in retrospect, I should have crossed the street, but I kept on walking for some reason. When the mom saw me, she froze, baby in one arm and other hand on the door. I asked her, "Can the dog see him? Is it OK?" She looked at me as though I had 5 heads and said nothing. I meanwhile had let Spock lick the boy's legs, but on judging her reaction to be less than friendly, immediately got him to leave the boy and cross the street. The boy then sprinted back to his house. It just seemed kind of sad. Maybe the boy was allergic to dogs. Maybe I had seen too much of that family's life that day. But it made me nervous about interacting with other kids in my neighborhood, because what if all the parents were like that - suspicious, protective? Was it too much of an intrusion into their world to encourage a kid to have the pure joy of petting the puppy on the end of my leash?

Back to today: my roommate came out, prompting the one boy to pick his bike back up again, and ran interference for me, as it were, so I could say my good-byes quickly and then take Spock inside.

I told my boyfriend about the kids, and as I was doing so, they rode around to the alley behind the house again and climbed up on the fence again. I didn't know it was this same group that had climbed the fence before. My boyfriend got really mad and ran outside, yelling something at them that I can't repeat /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/eek.gif I must admit, I was a bit shocked at the time.

However, the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that it might be nice to say hi to the neighbor kids and let them pet my dog when I'm out with him in public, but it was good for my boyfriend to, in his own impolite way, set limits on what they are allowed to do to visit our dog.

Honestly, I don't think they saw anything wrong with being so friendly, but their innocence could be easily abused by somebody who had a cute animal at their disposal. It seems like my dog granted me instant trust in their eyes. That's something that I've just recently thought about tonight, and the more I consider it, the more it kind of disturbs me. And I can't help but sympathize if the mad mom I saw earlier this week thought the same thing when she saw a strange woman with a puppy on her property early in the morning approaching her young son who was outside and alone

In addition, those fence-climbing boys had no respect for boundaries, and that's something that they'll need to start learning in order to stay out of trouble as they get older, to not do harm themselves and to keep from being harmed by others. I think they really might have climbed into the yard someday to see the dog (maybe even today), or gotten the gate open and accidentally let him loose, etc. Spock isn't alone outside all that often, just when I'm doing something messy in the house that he shouldn't be a part of (cooking, laundry, vacuuming, mopping) and not often for more than 10 minutes at a time. But that could be enough time for him to decide it's time to squeeze under that hole under the fence or try to get through the meter window at the back to see more people and check out those kids a bit closer. And besides, if those kids fall off the fence, they could be seriously hurt.

I guess this week has been just kind of a learning experience for me as a new homeowner and as the mommy of a lovable dog that needs education, love, and a sense of boundaries. It's just sad that people can't trust one another enough to treat well the innocents (canine or human) in their lives.
 

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I really enjoyed reading your post, although it made me sad. People definitely seem to be more suspicious nowadays, and are more apt to sue if an accident happens. Children do need to learn how to watch out for themselves, but I believe that the habit of trying to teach people to distrust everyone they don't know is harmful.

I would let the kids know that they could knock on the door if they wanted to visit with Spock, and check with their parents. I know of a puppy who was hurt by a group of children who sneaked into his yard, so I agree that you should be concerned.

Are you new to the neighborhood? I'd also introduce myself and Spock to the adults, let them know where I live, let them see that he's friendly, and try to get a positive dialog started early on.
 

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I absolutely agree with K&G. Kids these days need to watch out for themselves, and at the same time it's unfortunate that there need to do so.
I believe that indeed, introducing yourself and Spock to the adults (the neighborhood kids' parents) will help with their trust and also will obtain the parents help in explaining to the kids they need to respect your yard's bounderies.
 

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This is a a SERIOUS liability risk. SET THE BOUNDARIES! The kids should NOT be entering your property without permission. If they want to pet/play with Spock, then they need to ask first.

What if they come in without permission and Spock bites one of them? Or a kid claims he did? You will have SERIOUS problems, possibly tragic for Spock.

The other side is what if the kids hurt Spock and they just take off?

Its sad we have to think this way, but you need to protect Spock and yourselves first, then protect those kids from themselves.
 

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I am lining up with everyone else. No one on your property or in your backyard unless you know about it and approve. The legal issues here are heavy duty. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/eek.gif Your little darling could get hurt and you would not know about it. Children do not always know how to treat animals properly.

Under no circumstances let just anyone have access to your backyard. That goes for the meter people and workmen. I learned that the hard way. They could care less is the gate is closed let alone latched. (I now have locks on them.) Workmen have dropped ladders on my fence, taking part of it down - when I was not home! In both these cases I had loose dogs. After that, I read my own meters and mailed cards. If repair men need to get in the yard, they have to knock on or door or set up a time. :soapbox:

As you may gather, I am reaaaaaallllly hard nosed on this subject. My dogs' health and well being comes before some kid's moment of play or workman's desires.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the thoughts. I think I am going to buy a "no climbing" sign for the fence (apparently you can find anything on the internet). I was also thinking of installing plexiglass over the hole in the fence so that the meter could be seen, but no little muzzles could stick out and no little hands could stick in. BoulderBeagles, that is a great idea - I'll look into doing that too. We've got a big padlock on the inside lock of the fence. My boyfriend has had it locked up ever since the next-door neighbor came into our kitchen on moving-in day to ask brusquely if we'd done something to her cable (and this after I had a half-hour chat with the lady in the house behind us about roses - I was so surprised).

And if I do see the kids again (which is likely, since the dog and I are outside quite a bit), I think I will ask to meet their parents. It wouldn't hurt to make friends with the other grown-ups in my area!
 

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A small section of chain link over the hole in the fence might work for you also. We actually have a mirror positioned so the electric meter reader can see the meter on the back of the house without having to enter our yard.

We keep locks on the gates most of the time to keep any one from accidentally letting out one of the Beagles.

As for neighbors and children...we have some neighbor kids that come over almost daily to play with our dogs, but they have been told they must knock and ask before I will let them in. I appreciate their visits and so do my doggies.
 
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