Sunday 25 February 2024

Crap neighbours and insurance companies.

So, already blessed with warm, friendly and fascinatingly interesting neighbours (irony...) on one side of our property, we gained another set on the other side last summer. 

Keen to welcome them and show that we wanted to be helpful and friendly, I went over with a bottle of fizz and duly said welcoming stuff. They seemed slightly bemused but accepted the bottle, and we had a brief chat about life, dogs and everything else. Their dogs in question were (another has been added recently) a small, annoying hairy yappy thing and a black morose looking hound. The bloke had nodded to our other neighbours - where in their yard are housed six bored, frustrated and over-vocal dogs - and had assured me that the black hound only barked a small amount at passers by and then would always stop. Cheered by this information and with a warm feeling that we now had some respectful and relatively approachable next-door dwellers I went home and felt slightly less annoyed by the baying on the other side of the hedge.

A few weeks later, I went out to attack a rampant rose area and found one limp grey chicken carcass, feathers scattered and obviously the victim of a dog or fox attack. Most of the other chickens, including our special ornamental ones, were missing. I wondered where the other bodies were; did foxes drag them off? None returned the next day and then I recalled having seen the black dog wandering around outside their house. On seeing the new neighbours I asked nonchalantly if it was at all possible that their dog might have been responsible for the chicken demise. They shrugged, all innocent and, beh, non . . . c'est pas possible, so I assumed it had been a fox or errant wolf/dog and apart from feeling sad, life went on.

A few days later I was in the UK and Mark rang to say the black dog had got into the chicken enclosure and had killed all but two of the flock. He was in a state of shock, not only from the massacre but the fact that the neighbours had come over at his request, acknowledged that the fault had been their dog - Mark had taken a albeit emotionally shaky photo of the beast in full kill mode - but had shrugged again and reluctantly said, desolĂ© - sorry. No, OMG, let us help you clear up; no, here, let me write you a cheque immediately, it's the least we can do, nothing. A big F you nothing, and a gruff mention that they would engage the insurance company to deal with it.

Then ensued much farting about with paperwork, all of which appeared to be down to us: drives backwards and forwards to our insurance company, phone calls, etc etc. That was four months ago. After more prodding, we received a letter stating that our carefully worked out claim of around 500 euros to cover dead chickens, wrecked enclosure, loss in egg production (considerable!) not to mention all the physiological stress which we obviously would receive nothing for was overreaching and that they required proof... this is where the farce element started. A quote from the chicken provider was required, although we had already furnished them with a receipt for the same amount for the original purchase... AND, a statement from said breeder as to how many eggs would be have been laid during the time we had had chicken absence. 

The breeder kindly cooperated and, surprise! the chickens now cost more, and we had very much underestimated how many eggs would have been laid.

Mark, who is surprisingly dog (no pun) matic about these sort of Kafka-novel dossiers set to it and sent them back every grain of info including the large hike in price. 

I fear there will no doubt be some further hoop to clamber through - proof of whether the chickens were not in fact actually terribly miserable and were thus grateful at the prospect of been mauled to death; or an insurance company team inspection of the compound to point out the fallible areas of fencing which enabled the dog to create a way through, or the fact that step ladders were available in the open garage which could be employed by said dog or any other dog in order to climb over if the fence was a slight challenge.

I wonder how much time and paperwork at the insurance bureau has been wasted on this pathetically small dossier . . . and we still have the pleasure of seeing the chicken killer jumping up on our wall and barking at us pretty much constantly when we step into that part of the garden. The saddest thing is the neighbours seem to consider that the dog was at fault, not them for letting it escape, and have now chained it to a wall. It, as with many 'country dogs here' are never taken out and spend their lives bored out of their naturally inquisitive minds.

If we ever get the money I may invest in a flashing neon sign to be mounted on their wall: Take your F-ing dog out, connards! No, obviously we will buy some more chickens, and maybe a few trees to plant in memory of our funny flock of weird Russian leopard spotted hens and the Peruvian one with earrings.

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