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Why is it so difficult to have a civil, rational discussion with some folks?

We live on a corner lot, the neighbors to our side have a fence around their backyard, as does the neighbor to our rear. When we bought the land we were told by the realtor that the property lines were “street to fence, street to fence.”

Right after moving in the neighbor out back informed us that her father had owned the property and purchased a “pie slice shaped piece of land from the former owner of our land at the back outside corner of his lot so his property line would be straight, less irregular.” This little wedge of land was no more than 14 or so inches at its widest point and tapered back until it met the fence on the property line.

For 7 years we’ve been mowing and weed whacking it, as she might have come into our yard twice a Summer at most to take care of the weeds.

A month ago she told us she was having a new fence installed. We’ve also been planning to put a fence in around the open perimeters of our backyard so our dog doesn’t have to be tied out on an airline cable and won’t be subjected to stray and loose dogs coming into his yard harassing him.

Before the new fence went in I noticed the markers the company had used to mark the fence location and told her I was surprised to see that they were placing the new fence right back where the old one had been, rather than claiming that pie slice shaped section of land on her side of the fence. She didn’t have much to say except that she was putting a gate in so she could weed whack that pie slice piece of land.

Today the fence went in. The gate is behind my shed, where I can’t see it from the house. The gate provides access to her, to our property. This is disturbing to me.

When we put our fence up and our dog isn’t tied out anymore, if she’s behind our shed, on our property, I won’t be able to see her. If my dog rushes out into the yard, as he has a habit of doing, he will likely startle her (he’s done so in the past) and jump up on her (as he usually does when he’s greeted her as she came into the yard to talk). I’m terribly worried about our dog or her getting hurt as a result of her being on our property. I’m concerned that by installing a gate onto our property she is assuming some responsibility for the safety and security of my dog, as she will have to be diligent about making sure it’s closed and latched, since I can’t see it from my house, if I let him into the yard and he disappears behind the shed I won’t be able to tell if he’s gone through the opened gate or not.

Tonight she pointed out that there is a huge gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground throughout a whole section of the fence, “big enough for a small dog to go under easily”, which is significant because she has talked about getting a dog once the new fence was in.

I decided to share my fear with her that because of the gate I was worried both about her safety and the safety of my dog. She got quite upset and threw her arms up saying “I’ll just padlock it and not worry about it.” She turned and began to walk away from me, then turned back and told me if we ever moved she still wanted to be able to come on our side of the fence to weed whack.

Honestly, I was very put off by her attitude, as if she were wounded somehow. I believe (based on a previous conversation I had with the Codes Officer) that by setting her fence back away from the property line we’re not going to be able to butt our fence up against hers, closing in our yard, because to do so would mean we’d have to install our fence on her property. I didn’t even mention to her that coming through her gate to weed whack that little slice of yard on our side of her fence would require her to trespass, or that we’d not granted her a “variance” or an “easement” typical in such a situation.

I did tell her I was very concerned that if my dog caused her injury on our side of the fence that he would accumulate “strikes” against his record, of which 3 would result in euthanasia. We would be libel for any injuries she might suffer while on our property.

The neighbors that live beside us also have a habit of coming into our yard without permission. I don’t understand this lack of respect for another person’s property. I certainly wasn’t raised that way. Property lines are boundaries, to distinguish where one yard begins and another ends, they offer a sense of security, as they imply the land is yours and others should respect it.

The bottom line is that our neighbor didn’t plan very well, demonstrated a lack of foresight regarding our dog and her safety and neglected to discuss installing a gate into our property with us. She has no justification for acting as though my concern somehow wounded her. I could have easily told her I didn’t want her trespassing on my land, we could put our fence right across the back of our property rendering her gate useless. I was thinking that explaining my concern and fears was the most reasonable response.

The older I get the more I realize I simply don’t understand people and probably never will.