Thursday, March 04, 2010

Them’s fighting words

Even after fixing our satellite a year ago, our television viewing experience has not been improved much. We don’t watch television much but occasionally there are things that we’d like to watch like, say, the Olympics. We didn’t get to watch those this year since our satellite isn’t working again and our internet connection is too slow.

Our landlord finally stopped by to see if he could fix the problem for us. He’s one of few people with access to the roof, which is sealed off by a locked door, which is weird because usually the roofs of buildings are open-access or private oases for penthouse residents.

Ours isn’t either of those things, although I suppose we could go up there if we wished since the door is only haphazardly framed by a pony wall of stacked bricks, dusted with mortar. With the aid of a stool we could scale the wall and see about the connection ourselves, but we are lazy.

Also, sometimes there are dogs on the roof.

We knew about one dog—supposedly the dog of Hatim’s brother*—that was living in an unfinished apartment in our building. It would be impossible not to know about the dog as it barks huskily, viciously, continuously. Occasionally the brother lets the dog onto the roof to run around and get some fresh air. Sometimes the dog thinks that “get some fresh air” means “chew the wires to pieces.”

At least, that was the excuse Hatim offered us the last time we had him over to check our connection.

Lately we’ve been wondering if the brother’s dog had developed split personalities. The barking we thought was so terrible before has exponentially increased so that the rasping, growling, and barking has become, much like the hum of the air conditioner, the background noise of our life.

Our kitchen, bathroom, and living room windows face the dog’s lair, I guess, and so at night whenever we turn a light on in  one of those rooms, the barking begins all over again, no matter the hour. Since it also happens in the middle of the night when we are snug in our beds with all the lights off I can only assume the light from our neighbours’ windows has the same effect.

Sometimes when people come to the door we can’t hear them for the barking echoing down the stairwell. Frightened, our guests kind of jump inside commenting on how vicious and large the dogs sound. I agree with them—the noise makes my heart race and gives me goose bumps—but I have an unfounded fear of dogs, and this dog’s bark was only encouraging my fears to become more rational.

When Hatim told us he was going to go up to the roof to check the connection we weren’t at all surprised when the relative silence of the evening was interrupted by a cacophony of howls, yips, and snarls.

I shuddered.

Andrew and Hatim yelled at each other, over the barking, through the open window, Andrew in our living room, Hatim on the roof.

“Do you have a signal?”

“Yes. No, not anymore. Yes. No. Yes. No. It keeps dying.”

Hatim came down to admit defeat.

“The dogs chewed through the wire again,” he said.

“Dogs?” asked Andrew.

“My brother has moved them up there full-time. The apartment was getting too crowded for them.”

“How many dogs?”

Asherat,” Hatim answered dramatically.

Tens, which would more appropriately be translated into English as “dozens.” A large, unknown sum of dogs.

“What does he do with that many dogs?”

“Oh, he’s training them for fighting,” said Hatim, a little too casually for my taste.

So basically our roof is a breeding ground for blood-thirsty, angry, starved, and abused dogs.


Hatim left, assuring us that he’s going to talk to his “brother” about this because we aren’t the first tenants to complain about either the satellite or the noise.

Of course, his “brother” probably is wondering why we’d want to watch television in the first place since he could totally hook us up with front row seats to some good ol’ illegal dog fights. I’d contact the police about this but with corruption as it is here, I don’t think it would do much good. Hatim, himself, is no peon in the police force and he merely shrugs his shoulders and turns a blind eye.

I guess for now we’ll just continue to hope that the door holding the dogs back continues to stand for the next few months.

Pity the day they break it down.

*Familial terms are often used rather loosely here. I’m betting this is a “brother from another mother” situation where the brother is actually his best friend’s ex-wife’s cousin’s roommate’s sister’s husband. Or something.

1 comment:

  1. But just think - you can use the dogs as a threat to Rachel: 'if you don't go to sleep, I'll send you up to the roof to sleep with the dogs!'