"Aha, the Bumpus hounds! Our hillbilly neighbors, the Bumpuses, had over 785 smelly hound dogs..." Ralphie from A Christmas Story
Every neighborhood has a Bumpus family. Your Bumpuses don't come to block parties and they aren't in the neighborhood clean-up committee. You might know them by their roaming pack of dogs, the slouching jacuzzi on the three legged porch, or their decomposing car garden. The black hole in their basement has exerted a gravitational pull, which has sucked in every lawn chair, tricycle, tire and gas grill in existence into a shuddering pile on their porch. They don't wave back when you call "Good Afternoon", rather they stare suspiciously from the foxholes in their rubble piles.
My husband frequently reminds me that I am a "snob". To which I always respond, "You want to see a real snob? Ask me, I grew up in Connecticut, I've known snobs!" My husband says we should let all the Bumpuses be. But honestly, he has a point. Unless there are ordinances, Bumpuses have a right to be magpies. And no one is required to be friendly. Your local Bumpus family branch may actually have lived in the neighborhood before you. Perhaps they resent the new gentrified homes. Bumpuses don't bother me too much. I will always say "Good Afternoon" and I don't mind if they don't answer. We keep a respectful distance. Usually...
That afternoon we passed a particular Bumpus house. Suddenly there was a crash as their 785 dogs broke through the front door. They spilled out into the yard, leaping, barking and howling at our odd walking party. Armani rolled his eyes nervously. I rolled my eyes exasperatedly. My barn owner told me not to worry as the Bumpuses had an invisible fence. We rode by and continued down the road until we decided to head back home. We approached the Bumpus house for a second pass. Two madly barking dogs leaped into the road. "Oh dear", I said "I guess the fence isn't working."
Those two dogs broke the dam. By twos and threes a tide of barking dogs flowed out into the road. There were brown ones and black ones, hairy ones and short-coated ones, mean ones and ones who just looked like they had tagged along for the party. They were all large however.
My barn owner's puppy whimpered and barked nervously, the Chihuahua froze in horror, the pony revved up her bucking engine. Armani snorted. "We are the biggest ones here," I observed "Let's play chicken, Mani."
I squeezed Armani forward. He took two steps and snorted. The black and white, hairy beast closest to us backed away. "You are doing fine, keep going." I squeezed again and he lurched forward on shaky legs. A large, yellow aggressive dog ran straight for us, teeth bared and snarling. "No!" I shouted, "Bad doggy! Go home!" I threatened it with my whip. Armani put his ears back quizzically. Had he done something wrong? I leaned forward and whispered, "Good boy, Mani!" The dogs kept their distance and parted for us to pass. I alternated between shouting "Bad dog!" and whispering "Good boy!". Our party safely made our way by. The Bumpus pack followed us down the road and through another neighbor's field before they slowly dispersed into the woods.
"Perhaps we should take up foxhunting..." I observed.