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The question

Within the past few months, I have moved into my own apartment with my dog, Ruby, registered as an emotional-support animal. I’ve had multiple sclerosis for more than 15 years, and it has severely affected my memory, along with other issues. Ruby is always with me. Along with MS, I have other auto-immune diseases such as Raynaud’s, which causes my feet and fingers to appear blueish/purple in color from the lack of circulation. I am always cold and try not to be outside unless I absolutely have to be.

I’m not sure what to do about my neighbour. I can’t let my dog out on her acreage collar since she can get into his yard. If I know she has gone to the bathroom on his property, I make sure to take care of it. But now, I have to go outside and freeze as I tie her up and walk her down steps, then do the same when she’s ready to return. I get myself really worked up over my neighbour because he is being such a jerk about it. Help if you can, please.

The answer

I had to do quite a bit of research (oh, okay, let’s be honest – googling) to answer this question.

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I looked up Raynaud’s disease and it sounds really tough. I feel for you, living with that along with MS.

I also looked up “acreage collar,” but confess I still don’t fully understand what it is, exactly. A type of shock collar that zaps your dog if it vacates your acreage/vicinity/property?

In any case, clearly it’s not quite working, at least not in the sense that it’s preventing your dog from scampering into your neighbour’s yard and doing her business.

And pardon me, madam, but here is where we part paths.

I hasten to say I do believe in the efficacy and importance of emotional-support animals, although I confess to smiling quietly at the picture of an “emotional-support turkey” on an airplane a few years ago.

But while being compassionate and bearing in mind your MS and Reynaud’s and what seems like a very legitimate need for emotional support, I will also say this: One of the perquisites of property ownership is the right not to have animals belonging to one’s neighbours defecating on one’s property.

It’s happened to me. I exited my house one day to spot a neighbour’s dog, haunches trembling, faraway look in its eyes (like he was solving a particularly difficult clue on the crossword puzzle), unburdening himself of a parcel (of the, shall we say, non-Fed-Ex variety) on my front lawn.

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Me (to owner of dog): “Hey what’s all this? What’s going on here?”

Owner of dog: “What? I’m coming back to pick it up later!”

My thought balloon: “Yeah, right.”

What I said, in reality, being an (honorary) Canadian: “Okay, that’d be great! Thanks a lot!”

I might’ve even said, “Have a nice day!” Although I hope not. No one’s that (honorary or not) Canadian, are they?

Bottom line: Rent or own, we all, these days, seem to pay a fair amount for our domiciles.

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And part of what we are paying for is “property rights,” which in my mind includes the avoidance of having to either eyeball or (even more horribly) step in a pile of stinking, steaming – well, you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I sympathize/empathize with your ailments, MS and Raynaud’s, very much so.

But I also feel like your neighbour is not far wrong here, i.e. is not a “jerk,” but well within his rights.

So perhaps the ticket for you is to find some sort of collar that doesn’t allow your dog to meander and thus defecate on your neighbour’s property, meanwhile apologize for the cases when it has happened, and (a gesture that would certainly melt me) bring an ice-cold bucket of ice cream in your left hand and a steaming-hot apple pie in your right.

Who could resist?

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

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