Mary Panza at Word Fest 2011

So, I went to dog court. If you have never been to dog court, let me help you. You go the City Hall. You get metal detected, and then go to where, in the mornings, traffic court is held. I am no stranger to traffic court either. On Thursday afternoons, are the days for dogs, noise ordinances, land ordinances and outstanding summons. You sign in at the table to your right as to where you need to be and take a seat. If you are me, you wait five minutes and hear, “Hey Panza. Come in.” I told you, this ain’t my first time in dog court. I am sitting with my favorite animal control officer: Officer J.

So, I sit down with Officer J. He knows me, my girl and the dog very well. How is your little girl? She must be almost eight by now. Blah, blah and blah. Now down to business. We begin to discuss my neighbor’s state of mind. Apparently, he calls to complain about me and my dog 10 times month. You read that correctly. I am officially being watched. Now, I can’t prove anything because I can’t really catch him in the act of watching me but let me just say that my morning apparel has become that of a metal patient. I have the Oscar Madison robe covering a tank top and black yoga pants. My hair looks like I was yanked through a shrub backwards and I am loud. I stand at my back door watching the dog stalk squirrels because that is what dogs do. When she takes off and barks I holler her name. She stops and I have a sip of coffee. Any of my kind, mind your own freaking business neighbors can back me on this. Most of them think I am crazy and I am not going to tell them any different.

As me and officer J are talking I feel a hand on my shoulder. It is a friend of mine that works in the courts. He looks at me and tells officer J that I am a good girl and then looks at me and asks me if I have another speeding ticket. I tell him no I am here because my dog barks. He furrows his brow and says, “No shit. All dogs bark. What’s so special about yours?” Same question we have all been asking. I tell him the whole sorted dog barking story, the circumstances that led me to get a maniac police dog and why my neighbor is still mad at me. I tell them that I can’t take it when she barks for more than 15 seconds and how do we make this entire situation go away? A compromise: something to tell judge you will do and hopefully the dog will walk away with probation. Let me tell you what compromise is: an agreement where both parities walk away mostly unhappy. Not wanting to push my good fortune (I don’t believe in luck), I tell the nice judge that I will keep my dog in check and not try to retaliate against my neighbor. I said I would try. I feel I have the right to yell out my back door every time another neighborhood dog barks “Not my dog, asshole.” I was told not to do that. I was told that screaming may only taunt the neighbor and by the looks of things he will keep making phone calls to animal control and I will have a bench named after me in the basement of city hall. Besides, Officer J tells me, you shouldn’t taunt a crazy person. He meant the neighbor, not me.

So, for the second time in her three years of life, my beast is on probation. To be continued I am sure…