An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Yet another argument in favor of cats

I mentioned last week that a small crew of shirtless guys mows our lawn every week during the summer. It this an indulgence? Hell, yes. Yes it is, one that is very close to the bottom of the list of things to cut out of our budget. Because it takes them less than a half hour, whereas it would take one of us close to three hours. That’s three hours better spent yelling at our maids.

Also, Jon is very allergic to grass, so “one of us” would be me, and that nap is not going to take itself, now is it?

Most of these guys are working to help pay for college, so we supplement our justification for the expense with that in mind. Also, Tyrant is always feeling generous when they are around, so I know he won’t be jumping out of dark corners or trying to feed me my dead pet fish.

Did I tell you about the time I was at the gym when he sent me a picture of a half-eaten passport? It was the morning before I was supposed to leave for Bangladesh. The text he sent with it was, “I told you not to leave this where Coco could reach it.” Needless to say, after I recovered from that coronary I did not pay him for the time he used to google “dog eats passport image.”

Unfortunately, these guys really need to work on their college because they never remember to close the two gates that seal off the backyard. I seem to remember that one of the main reasons we bought this house was its closed off backyard. We would be able to let the dogs out and not worry about them wandering off and being eaten by local mythical bobcats or run over by teenage Mormons drunk on orange Fanta. Jon wouldn’t be able to go, “What? Coco? I boiled her guess she escaped the backyard!”

You see where this is going, right? Right. Once a week both dogs go missing. ONCE. A. WEEK. Because we forget that we have to check the gates after the mowers leave. We shouldn’t have to check the gates because the mowers are supposed to close them before they go AND HERE’S WHERE MY RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION BLOWS THROUGH MY EARS WITH THE FURY OF A TRAIN WHISTLE.

(an actual steam train whistle, not the friendly talking train with the British accent)

I would write this off as something I should just get over (check the damn gates, Heather) but in the chaos of our routines those gates sometimes get forgotten, and this puts the dogs in serious danger. You can’t live in Salt Lake without being close to some road that sees heavy traffic. Thus, the smoke pouring out of my ears every time we go outside, call for the dogs and realize the gates are open, GAWD DAMMIT, IMMA MOW THIS YARD MAH-SELF.

But then Jon would have to yell at the maids, and he’s allergic to dust.

  • slcEB

    We own 3 lawn mowers. And we don’t mow our own lawn.

  • stellans

    The guys who mow our yard left the gate open once. I called and left word that if it happened again, they wouldn’t be our yard guys any more, and I’d stop payment on the check to cover any damages/injuries/therapy I needed from having to hunt down my dogs. Again.

  • spodie

    Our lawn guys did that last week. We have chihuahuas. And the neighbors 5 doors down have pit bulls. Our dogs seem to think they’re “interesting.” Oh, and I’m 30 weeks pregnant. I think a train whistle would have been drowned out by whatever noises (read: curses) were escaping my head.

  • LynnB

    I agree with the above. Don’t pay them when the gates are left open. If they really want to get paid, they’ll remember to close them.

  • booner32

    Ha ha ha!! Good post.

  • katewestrich

    And one more argument for cats? They poop in a box. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • tokenblogger

    The only way I could survive in a house that big is to have a house cleaner come in at least once a week. With a toddler? Twice a week.

  • KristiBug

    We had to solve this by getting a lock for the door. We open the lock the morning they come, and we know we have to walk out and lock it back up.

    Good luck though.

  • tokenblogger

    Oh! And at spring and fall cleaning time? I’d bring in a team of house cleaners! Somebody besides me is doing those windows!

  • smiles4u2have

    Argument against cats:
    They poop in a box, but you have to clean said box. (Guess what I have to do today and yes I am bitter about it.)

    Agree with above – tell lawn guys that if they want the money, they must close gates. End of story. Also, if something does happen to the dogs, I would make them come help take care of that something. Kinda mean, but they wouldn’t be the ones that had to tell the kids.

    Or tell Jon to get some allergy pills and mow the lawn. Or a gas mask.

  • katliz

    Funny the mention above of chihuahuas: we have a small hole in the side of our fence large enough for a chihuahua to walk through. Which, last week, a stray one did just that – much to the joy of our pit bull, who never met a dog he didn’t like… until the chihuahua took a chunk out of his leg. Our dog begged to come in and hide in his crate while I called the little guys’ owner. True story. It can go both ways!

    I spent a weekend with my dog training him not to go outside of the gate unless I give him permission. Our gate can blow open in very strong winds, and usually he will sit by it and bark until we come close it. It was one of the easiest training sessions I’ve had, and even something really lickable like a dog, little kid or squirrel walk by, he knows not to breach that line.

  • sarahdoow

    I’m firmly in the camp that says the mowers should close the damn gate behind them. Except I’m not saying “damn” in my head.

  • ladygray

    I don’t have people who mow my lawn… heck, I don’t have a lawn… or dogs.

    THAT cleared up, my mom does. and she has this problem EVERY week with her Lawn Mowing Dudes too.

  • janeingrid

    I’m voting for a sign on the gate that says something along the lines of “always close the gate so the dogs do not get out”

  • kellyfaboo

    We had the same problem until the guy we hired to mow our lawn hired immigrant workers to do his job.

    They even take the brush down to the street for us. It’s marvelous.

    And since they are subcontractors we don’t even worry about INS.

  • patsgirl

    How about those large springs that close the gate automatically like people have for swimming pool gates? What if your little one walked out of the open gate?

  • roygbiv

    I vote for blasting “Who let the dogs out” out the window the next time they come by and tacking on a “Please close the gate when you leave” onto the end of the song. Or something to that effect. Record their reactions.

  • kboo

    This is why I have to lock my cats in the upstairs bedroom any time any service person including the housekeeper comes to the house. They just leave the door and screen door WIDE OPEN for HOURS at a time. It gives me a freakin panic attack to think of them getting out and lost forever. I have begged them for a year to please keep the doors closed but it never happens.

  • Sweetscorpion

    Argument for cats if you don’t mind losing your cats ten times a day. Plus they don’t come when called (if you’re lucky they come for treats). In fact, they don’t do anything unless they are in the mood…..which is never.

  • Pascale Soleil

    How about weighting the gates so they swing shut automatically? Then no one has to remember. WIN!

  • Norabloom

    I think the threat of losing your business, in addition to signs on the gates, should take care of the problem.

    p.s. – I don’t think you should have to explain why you hire people to take care of your yard! College tuition or not, you’re providing them with work.

  • Chez Sanderosa

    My cats crap on the floor when they are mad at me or my husband… which is often since we brought our son home and the cats started getting a lot less attention. I’m starting to think a goldfish sounds like a good idea, but then you’d have to clean the bowl from time to time. Ick!

  • Joanis018

    This is so first world problems…please tell me you’ve seen this:

  • collegemama67

    Tell the little buggers that I pay 35 week to have my lawn mowed & edged by All American Yard and they NEVER forget to close my two gates when they leave and they use a riding lawnmower. If they can do it then the college guys can do it.

    If that doesn’t work tell them you know someone who can mess with their financial aid for this year if they don’t follow directions… 🙂

  • jenmata

    Can’t you just get some self closing gate hinges? Just a thought.

  • WindyLou

    I can’t tell you how many times this week I have uttered the phrase “godammit, Ima have to……..myself”

    My dad was correct – if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

    P.S. my cats run outside every chance they get – we’ve been in this house just over a year. We have spent almost $1000 on kitty “vacation” vet bills because they can’t seem to get outside without doing major physical damage to themselves.

  • Dani

    Our gardner (paid by our landlord not us) leave the gates open all the time. They also do our neighbors yard. Our dogs have never gotten out (thank goodness) but once the neighbors dog went out through their left open gate and in through our left open gate and surprised the heck outta me.

  • alanmill

    Not to make things too simple, but why not get self closing hinges, so the gates close themselves? Here is an example from Amazon–but there are many choices:

  • Amybyrd35

    Our gate was left opened by our gardeners, and our dog got out and was killed by a car. Sore subject for me obviously, but it only takes a second. I agree with the comments above, if they want their money, they should remember to close the gate.

  • Shana in Texas

    Uhm, guys? With the suggestions of self-closing gate and signs? Obviously not the point of this post. Beside, if @Dooce was always practical, we would not have this tale of repeat incompetence and Tyrant drooling over college boys. Plus, its another tale of escaping dogs which I’m guessing is what really keeps the Armstrongs going to therapy. Amirite? (Am I the only wondering how many compromises @Jon has to make over the dogs? Probably for the best, really. You know, to keep the peace in re: chickens and hippos).

    Our lawn guys are very conscientious about picking-up the toy-strewn lawn and closing the gate and we don’t have a dog – just cats that climb the trees and chase the squirrels.

    @Amybyrd35 – condolences about your dog.

  • annaandtroy

    This used to happen to us too. So we put padlocks on our gates with the key hanging on a little hook on the air conditioner. It worked. I bet it was a pain in their butts, but it served to remind them that we were very serious about keeping our gates closed.

    Another plus, was that I got to nicely explain, that while I was sure that they did close the gates, that they sometimes didn’t get ALL THE WAY CLOSED and the dogs got out. That way I got to characteristically avoid negative confrontation and nightmares of them peeing in our sandbox while I wasn’t looking.

  • mommica

    Can my dogs come to your house on lawn mowing day? Please? One of them is havng “incontinence” issues and, well, our road doesn’t get enough heavy traffic…

  • Caroleep

    It could be an argument in favor of alpaccas… they will eat the grass, keeping it neatly trimmed, and being an exotic animal they usually aren’t subject to farm animal bylaws…. they would go nicely with a chicken coop too. 😉

  • LisaAR

    If they can remember to mow the lawn, they can remember to close the gate. And THEN you can remember to pay them.

  • jlhjla

    Ok, so those are some nice, peaceful ideas above, but the point is that you shouldn’t HAVE TO get a self-closing gate or hang up a sign…you are paying them to keep up your yard ~ and if that yard includes a fence, then they should close the fu(k!ng gate when they leave. Close the gate or find other employment. It’s that simple. I would go ape-sh!t on their arses if anything happened to the dogs. Have they never encountered a fence/gate before? For cryin’ out loud, they probably leave the toilet seat up, too! CLOSE IT WHEN YOU’RE DONE!!

  • austinscott

    I mow lawns on the side for CASH. I close gates. Site unseen, I’ll do yours for $25 per cut. You cover travel expenses. (Michigan) 🙂

  • NolaMomma

    I had the same issue and I ended up printing up a note on an 8 1/2 x 11, laminating it to the front and back of the gate, which read:

    We have two dogs and two small children,
    SECURE THIS GATE anytime you enter or leave this yard.

    The all caps had sort of an understood, “if you don’t want me to kick your ass” in there.

    It worked.

  • SwissMiss

    Maybe someone’s already mentioned this but when I was growing up in Canada I rememeber a large spring that was on our backyard gate and it would shut automatically behind you. Albeit a bit too quick if you took your time on the way out cuz that expression “don’t let the door hit you on your way out” wasn’t so much of an expression anymore 🙂

  • apostate

    Ultimately it’s the owners responsibility, though I would give these guys one last chance.
    I suggest a padlock with a key so you always know when it’s shut and when it’s not.

  • rosiemom

    Heather said “…Is this an indulgence? Hell, yes. Yes it is, one that is very close to the bottom of the list of things to cut out of our budget.”

    Is it really an indulgence? It would be for me, but since you guys make more in two months off this web site than I do in a year working full time outside of my home, I giggle at your comment about it being anywhere NEAR a list of things to cut out of the budget.

    Come on, Heather. Huge house, rooms full of new and vintage furniture, babysitter, assistant, personal trainer, vacations in Mexico, trips to NY, DC, Bangla-freakin’-desh, best-selling books, blogging conferences all over, a home office with a tv studio, designer duds, lawn guys, and a cleaning service in there somewhere, probably…it was easier to laugh before you got rich. Now it just sounds like complaining. Fix the gate or fire the lawn guys. Money is power – use it.

    This site used to make me laugh so hard I had to close my office door. I haven’t laughed in a long time, and every time I read something lately it seems like just another chapter in “The Charmed Life of Heather Armstrong”.

    I know this will spark hate mail from your supporters. In spite of how it might sound, I’m really glad you’re better and doing well for yourself financially. It’s just hard to identify with your righteous indignation about the gate and threats to mow the lawn yourself, when so many of us are doing just that and it isn’t because the lawn guys let the dogs out. Hell, I clean my own house, too – in spite of the dust.

  • red is a neutral

    Your leg’s not broken. Go shut your own damn gate, since you know it’s open anyway.

    Don’t you have more important things to bitch about?

  • Absent Minded Housewife

    I have three cats. They go out in the morning. When it’s time for them to come in I shake a bag of cat treats out my back door and they come running. It’s cat crack. Pussy crack? I need wine.

  • Jalima

    I finally broke down and got a self closing hinge for our gate (actually a bungee cord did the trick). My sis lives next door and we have a small gate in our back yards for easy access for the kids.

    Well I was forever finding the damned thing open and my 3 small dogs would venture next door to freedom and the open road.

    The hinged door has saved my sanity and probably my dogs.

    But yeah, dudes need to shut the frigging gate!

  • dianaparkhouse

    Back in the day I had a Welsh Springer who I was considering breeding from. So she wasn’t fixed. And we had an excellent back yard for her with a 6 foot wooden fence and a gate that only a human could unlock.
    We also had a house mate named Jason.
    The day Jason was asked to find somewhere else to live was the day he left the back gate open. My in-season dog was got at by three random male dogs. We got her de-sexed the next day as I couldn’t be responsible for more dogs in the world that need re-homing.
    I’m not proud of the fact that I was so furious when I found the gate open and the dogs and the whole thing, that I phoned him right there and then and told him the dog had escaped and had been run over. I was that angry I wanted him to suffer. He did. So did the dog. It wasn’t a pretty time.

  • Pamela504

    We also have allergies, etc. that prevent mowing our own lawn. And if we didn’t we’d still hire gardeners because we detest yard work. We also live off busy city streets. And it took firing THREE lawn service companies before we found one that closes the damn gates. When you find your beloved pets on the median in rush hour traffic at *dusk*, you do what you have to do. Don’t know what it is with so many of these people. I get pissed all over again just remembering the close calls we’ve had.

  • kma2girls

    If it was closed when they got there, they better make sure it’s closed when they leave. Or I would be tempted to “forget” to pay them & hire someone else.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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