Forgive me if I get a little misty-eyed, but our lives will never be the same.
This is because my wife and I have done the unthinkable -- we put up a fence in the backyard.
We erected this fence in the traditional manner, by which I mean we hired two Fence Guys to build it for us.
In about two hours on the hottest day of the year, they installed a black chain-link fence along the thin band of trees that had been the only thing separating our backyard from our neighbour's side yard.
We didn't really want to be fenced off from our wonderful neighbours, but Mr. X didn't give us a choice.
Regular readers will recall Mr. X is our newest dog, a small, white creature who is larger than a grapefruit but smaller than a mature watermelon. He resembles some sort of tiny experimental sheep, but his spindly white legs and fluffy ears belie the fact he has the heart of a lion and a damn-the-torpedoes-full-speed-ahead approach to life.
The problem was, Mr. X devoted every waking hour to lying in the sun, staring at the old fence along the side of our yard, waiting patiently for the sound of an innocent pedestrian strolling along the sidewalk on the other side.
When this happened -- and it happened several times a day -- Mr. X would instantly transform from a harmless cotton swab into the canine version of the Incredible Hulk, emitting terrifying squeaks and squeals to convey to the hapless passerby on the sidewalk that, if he could only leap over the side fence, he would commit unspeakable canine crimes on their ankles.
Then he would bolt along the fence at the side, through the line of trees at the back and burst into our neighbour's yard, where he would strut around like a tiny cocksure prizefighter and refuse to return, giving my wife and I scornful looks as we shrieked his name in what we hoped was a threatening manner.
Without fail, he would give us a look of utter defiance, assume the power crouch and, as we watched in absolute horror, deposit a small gift in the middle of the neighbour's yard.
At this point, dressed in my flip-flops and fuzzy blue bathrobe -- which would fit a Munchkin but is way too revealing on someone the size of a major kitchen appliance -- I would creep ninja-like into our neighbour's yard and, armed with a plastic Safeway bag and a poop-stained red kiddie shovel, scoop up the offending item with as much stealth as humanly possible, then slink away, my dignity in tatters and my bathrobe flapping in the cool summer breeze.
Tired of the stench of humiliation and poop -- and sick of stubbing our toes on the neighbour's rock garden in pursuit of a defiant pet -- we installed the black chain-link fence, which has the amazing characteristic of being virtually invisible as it sits there amid the trees and shrubs at the back of the yard.
And so, on Day 1 of the new fence, Mr. X was parked in his usual spot when someone brazenly walked past on the sidewalk beside the side fence, prompting him to fly into action, dash madly through the trees and -- KABOING! -- discover one of the basic laws of physics: It is impossible for a small white dog, no matter how fast it is moving, to pass through a chain-link fence.
Fortunately, the only thing Mr. X hurt was his pride. After patrolling the back of the yard, searching in vain for a hole in this new line of defence, he strutted over and stared up at me with what I can only describe as a look of shock mixed with betrayal.
When his moist, beady eyes locked on mine, he transmitted this grief-stricken, one-word telepathic message: "Why?"
Then, his small black nose seriously out of joint, he demanded to be let back in the house. I laughed a silent but cruel laugh, rubbed my hands in glee and savoured one of life's small victories.
At least I did until I discovered the unspeakable crime Mr. X had committed on my fuzzy blue bathrobe.