Gary Giddings was an unassuming bachelor who lived quietly between two feuding neighbours in a subdivision bordered by a wooded area just beyond an open hydro corridor, a paradise for dog-walkers and their canine dependents. Most dogs were regularly exercised there, accompanied by their owners or even leashed, but Delmonico Diamante, one of Gary’s neighbours, allowed his three large mongrel dogs to run free, unleashed and unsupervised, once he had let them out of the cramped backyard cages in which he kept them. This infuriated the couple who lived on the other side of Gary’s house. The Carmodys objected to Diamante’s dogs wreaking havoc on their flower beds, rooting out the sources of whatever smells hunting dogs find appetizing or interesting. Eventually, they erected a high fence to keep them out, but the enmity between them and Diamante simmered throughout a hot summer, especially after Carmody presented Diamante with a bill for the fence. Gary tried to be neutral, but found himself more and more provoked by the dog owner’s bravado, intrusiveness, and negligence. He was at first inclined to call his neighbour a ‘rough diamond’ on the strength of his name, a rural peasant who simply knew no better, but the smell from the cages next door, invariably left uncleaned for too long, had added to Gary’s resentment, and had begun to drive him frequently indoors. He complained, but Diamante was impervious to his appeals. “Dogs gotta do their business,” he said. The noise from a defective air conditioner was an additional source of complaint. “Can’t afford to fix it,” came the unhelpful reply. In addition to the dogs, cooped up year-round in cages and subjected to sweltering heat in summer and bitter cold in winter, Diamante (‘call me Del’) also kept caged rabbits. He boasted that his wife made them into ‘lip-smacking’ stews. One of these escaped once, and when Gary told Del about it, he merely said, “The dogs’ll get it. No sweat.”
Relations between Gary and Del went from bad to worse. Gary ignored Del’s overtures of friendship, even when Del came over uninvited to sit on his deck where he was reading, to bore him about a new pup he had just acquired, and its lovable antics and personality. Deflated and unable to understand why Gary was not enamoured of his dogs or his company, Del retaliated by leaving the cages uncleaned longer, and ignored Gary in turn. The new pup, not yet weaned from its mother’s milk, began to howl at night. In exasperation, Gary telephoned Del to complain, but Del hung up on him. The howling persisted. At last, Gary found a solution: he left the bathroom fan on all night and was able to sleep.
One morning, stooping in his dressing-gown to pick up the daily paper from the driveway where the carrier always tossed it, Gary was startled to notice Del, arms folded over his big belly, fixing him with an accusing glare from the path between their houses. Somewhat apprehensive, Gary greeted him.