It wasn't the normal judge that listened to our arguments, it was a new judge. He listed as the animal control officer read his report. He listened to me tell the story of how I came home to find my goats dying behind the shed. How I yelled at Atticus to get him off Penny and Atticus ran home. How I tried so many people looking for someone to shoot the goats before the sheriff came and we found the goats had finally died by themselves. How I'd been concerned enough about Atticus the week prior to bring one goat inside the house to keep it away from the dog. How my mother is afraid enough of Atticus that she went inside and closed the door every time the dog came over.
Then the judge listened as my neighbor spoke about where she was born and grew up, how many dogs she's rescued, how beautiful Atticus is. How she's an expert on goats because her ex-husband was nicknamed "goat." How a dog belonging to the previous owner of my house killed a cat she was catsitting and the cat was a member of the family because it had slept in the same bed as the owner for 10 years. How it's harsh country up where we live. How everyone on the street has lost at least one animal and that's just part of living where we live. How someone is leaving deer carcasses in the woods. How she can't imagine Atticus hurting anything because she wouldn't keep a dangerous dog. How she thinks that a wild animal killed my goats and Atticus just happened to discover it later. How she has purchased an invisible fence (she showed it to us, still in Petsmart bags) and will install it soon, but her dogs might run through it. How she brings the dogs out to the country to let them run because they don't have running space in the city. How her dog doors let her dogs out, but might let wild animals in. How she worries that if another wild animal kills another of my animals, I might blame her again. How she installed fence for her birds and she knows how hard it is on our rocky land. I wouldn't have been surprised if she brought the kitchen sink into her argument. It had everything but.
She told all of this about 5 times, in one big, long rush, barely pausing for air. The judge listened to it all and the rest of us listened with him.
Then he ordered her to keep her dogs on her property and me to keep my dogs on my property. There's one difference. I got a piece of paper with the judge's signature on it and the words "confine and keep on her property," referring to the neighbor and her dogs. The neighbor got the certainty that if her dog comes to my place again, I can shoot it.
No, I'm not happy. I don't see any winners here. I'm sad the neighbor has pushed it to this, but now she knows I will do whatever I have to do to keep my charges safe. This little saga has bumped forward a little bit. And now it's time to lay more track.
6 hours ago