Two Derry residents might do well to review Robert Frost's "Mending Wall."
The longtime neighbors — and former fast friends — are wallowing in a feud involving one man's dogs and the other's wish for a yard free of someone else's pets.
While "Good fences make good neighbors" may be the best-known line of the poem, it's really about the role the dividing wall plays in two neighbors' relationship. These two residents could take a page from Frost's book.
In this case, too, there is a fence, but it's not enough to keep the curious pooches on their own side of the barricade. They dig, wriggle and work their way into what they apparently perceive as the greener pastures next door.
The feud has been simmering for some time. Photographs of the marauding dogs have been sent to town officials. The dog owner himself says his pets are being unfairly singled out when other neighborhood canines step out of bounds, too.
The fight became public last week when one of the men contacted this newspaper to publicly air his grievances.
The police chief says it's a shame, that a frank conversation between the two men ought to be enough to work things out. He also offered a look at Derry's dog ordinance. The animal control officer wanted no part of a public discussion of the dispute. Who could blame her?
Whether it's dogs, boisterous grandchildren, frequent pool parties or teenagers' music, what happens in one back yard can often prove disruptive and annoying to people in the next.
Figuring out how people can enjoy their own yard without infringing on the enjoyment of others is what makes a neighborhood work.
Derry doesn't have a leash law, but it does have a dog control ordinance. Under that ordinance, dog owners must control their pets at all times and not allow them to "dig, scratch or excrete on property other than their owners."
And if they don't do so, the dog owner is subject to fines. Too many strikes and Fido may be kicked out of the neighborhood.
Dogs need exercise; they probably even need to exercise their vocal cords once in a while. But if a back yard isn't secure enough for that, Derry has a terrific off-leash dog park on Fordway, a place where dogs can run and bark and burn off some energy.
If the dog owner whose pets are creating a fuss, as much of one as reported or not, doesn't like the dog park, he should fix his fence.
The complainant, too, ought to take a step back and see what's at stake here. Neighborhood peace, a friendship lost, the loss of precious time better spent than photographing an errant dog in the yard.
Sometimes the fight takes on a greater meaning than the original source of the dispute.
Gentlemen, head to the bookshelf or the library, and study "Mending Wall."
Frost's narrator, puzzled by his neighbor's penchant for maintaining the stone wall that separates their pine and apple orchards, has this to say:
"But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again."
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