A couple of weeks ago, Lucy jumped her fence while we were out and went wandering off down the road. When we realised she was no longer in the backyard, I went walking up Baker Street following the sounds of barking, and found her a few houses up where they keep Rottweiler pups — indeed, they’d locked her in their backyard and left a note on our door but she’d managed to escape again.

We didn’t know how she got out, but “hardened” the perimeter in various ways: more wire, nails, tent-pegs so she couldn’t tunnel under, etc. A few days later she got out again but this time we were home and vigilant and Lucy made it as far as the driveway before I was after her with a leash.

I reached the bottom of our driveway in time to see Lucy sniffing around the neighbours front yard, whilst said neighbour, rather irate, harrangued her from the porch. Mongrel this, mongrel that. I collected my dog and faced off with an apoplectic middle-aged woman. “She bit my duck! She bit my duck! That cost me $100 vet bill! I’ll call the council!” I promised to come back once I’d put Lu back inside.

She was raging! Pointed out paw prints in the mud, but grudgingly admitted she’d not actually seen Lucy do anything -indeed, she hadn’t seen Lucy before that day. When did it happen, I enquired? “Yesterday,” she sputtered! Ah, but Lucy wasn’t out yesterday. “The day before then,” she groaned. I agreed to pay the vet-bill, all the while protesting Lucy’s innocence – considering it “neighbour tax” and helpfully warning her about the many dogs in the street, not to mention the area. She was nice as pie once she had the money in her hot little hand.

Then yesterday we were putting the final touches on a dog proof fence — 6-foot high, staked into the ground, made from electrified adamantium — and Lucy, recognising the inevitability of yard-bound life and wanting one last fling, saw her opportunity and made a break for it. She’d been somewhat under house arrest for the interim, chained up when we were out and supervised when she went out for a pee, so we were quickly after her.

This time she didn’t bother with the neighbour, walking past towards her German suitors, but nevertheless our Crazy Lady neighbour was out there brandishing a pitchfork and flaming brand, with the now-tired threat of a call to the council. Difference? This time she met Dee.

“Calm down, she wasn’t even in your yard,” I imagine Dee said, but it’s hard to be reasonable with unreasonable people. “Good, call the council!” Dee returned with Lucy, then went back for a chat that was reportedly even more frustrating than the first. “She’s not a mongrel,” Dee explained to me later. “That’s just factually incorrect.” She did however manage to get a copy of the bill and a receipt for the money I’d paid.

The end result is we’re finishing the fence today and hoping our neighbour — a renter, “townies, eh?” — was so distraught by the situation that she moves out and we never see her again.