Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
The misery overcomes me in waves. I cannot stop the tears, it is too much like the loss of not just a family member, but one that all neighbors share.
We have really good neighbors. We have had the good fortune of living next door to us a family that escaped from Bosnia, but carved a life here, one also of good fortune. This can be attributed to many things, but the one thing that stands out is they are Muslim, we are Jewish, and we immediately knew that these things don’t mean shit if you really, really like each other. They were here way first, fifteen years at least before we bought our house. And we practice our religions like most lapsed do….we drink, we eat pork, we tried but failed and then we try again.
We bonded immediately, them telling us stories of previous owners of our house, we being fascinated by the amount of fornication that occurred in our hot tub (of which they did not participate, just heard). The first owner that they knew was a nudist, so when my neighbor (the husband) would get an over-the-fence invite to come on over, the first previous owner of our house would open the gate butt-ass naked. Paul would shake his head, and tell him “PLEASE, John, put on a towel!”. (An aside: This owner’s name was John, the next owner’s name was John, my husband’s name is John.)
Paul is very friendly, and his wife is beautiful, inside and out. Their kids have literally grown up before our eyes, their daughter becoming a moody, beautiful, wonderful girl who sits our cats, their son becoming well over six feet tall and going off to college. He was next in line for valedictorian at his high school, but the honor went to his cousin. The first year we lived here, they brought home a puppy.
She was maybe twelve weeks old, and as big as our cat. She bounded over to say “hi” and Tiger swatted her on the nose and she whimpered and cowered and we felt terrible. Over the years, they developed a healthy respect for each other, Tiger arching his back, Kahli going down on all fours in his presence. As it should be, I guess, in animal speak.
Years have passed and we have become not just neighbors, but good friends. We look out for each other, worry if they may have heard us have a little fight (which they would never, ever bring up and vice-versa), and we take care of each other’s pets and watch over each other’s houses when we travel. There is a bond that forms, almost like family, when you have neighbors that you love. We go to Charger’s games together, and we share holidays with our neighbors, like families do.
I love to walk. Many times, I take the neighbor’s dog, Kahli, with me. I eventually bought her a leash of her own, so I wouldn’t have to keep breaking into their garage for hers. This is okay, though, because they know how much I love to walk her and signs of breaking and entering and the dog being gone render the situation benign. She actually knows how to break out of the yard just to come over and sit on my lawn and wait for me to walk her. I look out my window while doing dishes, and there she is, looking up and whimpering, and if I have the time, away we go.
Sunset Cliffs always holds a special appeal for a walk. One time Kahli almost dislocated my thumb because she took off after a bunch of pigeons and if it wasn’t for me, she may have well gone over the cliffs. Walking a dog is almost like therapy. They get so much out of it, but you get more. Kahli is not a dog’s dog. She is a people dog. She likes people. We all know animals like this. My cat, Tiger, is a people cat – he has little use for other animals. He tolerates. These pets are special, because they honor us.
Yesterday, Paul called me to tell me that Kahli had been hit by a car and killed on our street, one that is far too busy and our block being between two of the busiest streets in the community. I have been beside myself, mourning the death of a beloved pet (she was my dog fix, I loved her like my own) and wanting advocacy for getting our little block to stop being the “stomp the gas pedal to get through the intersection that should be a four way stop and maintaining that speed and hitting our sweet Kahli going 40 miles per hour on a residential street”.
Because this is a neighborhood blog, I just need to say, please, please, slow down. There is no place you need to be in such a hurry that it costs a life, and the pain of this kind of loss is an unspeakable burden. We are a neighborhood in mourning, and will be because we lost a life that was not just a dog. She was a friend and she loved everyone through and through. I miss her bark as I write this and my tears flow, and for once, I am at a loss for words. Kahli – RIP.