It’s over.

It’s finally over.

I can finally talk about what happened almost a year ago without fear of repercussions.  The thing that has been hanging over our heads like the Sword of Damocles since last April.  The thing I referred to here, here, and here, but didn’t talk about in detail because at the time, nothing was settled and I didn’t want to jinx it.

Now I can.  Because yesterday, we got the phone call that set us free from worry.

Last April, our dog (now deceased) bit our (now former) neighbor.  Chaos and I were out for a walk around 2 in the afternoon.  We were walking up the street and as we started past the neighbor’s house, he came down his drive way to check his mail.  We were in the street in front of his driveway.  We were not on his property.  I wasn’t expecting any problems, so my guard was down.

He leaned over Chaos to pet him, which Chaos didn’t appreciate.  He bit our neighbor in the face.  I won’t describe how it looked because frankly, it still makes me queasy.  But it was bad.  The neighbor ended up having to get 70 stitches to close his cheek up.

In Chaos’s defense, he was still recovering from surgery a couple weeks prior to remove cancerous tumors.  Before that surgery, he had not been well for months, but he was finally on the road to recovery.  Chaos was 11 years old at the time this happened, which is old for an Akita.  Picture a cranky old man with health issues – Chaos was the dog equivalent of that.

At any rate, the neighbor leaning over him didn’t go over very well.  An ambulance was called and the neighbor was whisked off to the hospital to get treatment.

The next day, the husband and I went over to the neighbor’s house to check on him and to let him know that we had notified our homeowners’ insurance and that they would be getting in touch with him.

At first, everything was fine.  We moved away in July because husband was transferred, but we kept in touch with the adjuster assigned to our case.  The adjuster assured us that she was keeping our former neighbor in the loop with where things stood and that as soon as all his bills were in, they would start figuring out the settlement.

This is where things take a turn for the ridiculous.  As a retired member of the military, our (former) neighbor had Tricare Insurance.  In Mississippi, Tricare is a protected insurance company.  Basically, what this means is that if they pay out for treatment and there’s a settlement, they are guaranteed reimbursement for what they paid out.  I don’t know if this is unique to Mississippi or not.  At any rate, we were waiting on them.  Our insurance had to know what the guaranteed reimbursement amount was in order to come up with a settlement.

We waited for months.  The adjuster even called Tricare’s national office in Washington, D.C. to find out what the holdup was.  Turns out, the district office that services Mississippi is very, very slow about sending things on to the national office.  Meanwhile, our former neighbor was getting pissy because nothing had been settled.  He would call our adjuster and demand to know what was going on and would get very grumpy when she told him that she was still waiting on his insurance company to send her the information she needed to figure the settlement.

Finally, in late November, our insurance offered the neighbor a settlement of $15000, plus the reimbursement to Tricare.  This seemed very reasonable, seeing as the neighbor was retired and didn’t work anywhere.  A couple of weeks later, the adjuster called to let us know that he had rejected the offer and demanded $500,000.  Our insurance only had a liability limit of $100,000, so this made me very nervous.  The adjuster assured us that she had already consulted a lawyer and that even if the case ended up in court, the most he could get was the policy limit and that was all that we could be held liable for, since we were on public property when he got bitten.

A few days after we found this out, we had to have Chaos put to sleep.  A couple of weeks later, I received an email from the adjuster stating that the neighbor had hired an attorney and that the attorney was sending a “demand package”.  I didn’t take it very well.  I think I told the husband that the greedy bastard could go die in a fire for all I cared.  That’s how fed up I was with the whole damn thing.

More than a month went by with no word.  Then last month, the adjuster emailed me that our greedy neighbor wanted $75000.  State Farm countered with the original offer of $15000.

Yesterday, we got a call from the adjuster that he accepted the offer of $15000.  State Farm played hardball and refused to budge.  His lawyer convinced him that he wasn’t going to get more money, so he took the $15000.  Now I don’t have to worry anymore about him trying to sue us, thank god.  I did get some satisfaction out of the fact that he cost himself money by hiring a lawyer.  He ended up with the original settlement offer, plus he’s out whatever he had to pay the lawyer.  Serves him right, the greedy bastard.

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It’s been one month.

One month since my big beautiful boy passed away.  I’m finally getting to the point where I don’t automatically look for him when I come home from running errands.  I’m finally getting to the point where I don’t expect him to come get me up in the mornings to so he can go outside.

And yet, yesterday I noticed a stray tuft of his fur that had drifted out of where it had been hiding only to end up in the middle of the hallway floor and I can’t bring myself to pick it up.

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One of the last pictures I took of Chaos. (image by me)

The fact that he’s gone hits me at odd moments.  The first couple of weeks after he died, I would swear I heard him walking through the house late at night.  But since I picked up his urn from the vet’s office, I haven’t heard him any more.

Today I ordered a necklace from The Vintage Pearl to remember him by.  It will have his name on it and I know I will think of him whenever I wear it.

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(image by The Vintage Pearl)

I hope that someday, I can think of him with a smile instead of sadness.  Chaos was a once in a lifetime kind of dog and I don’t think there will ever be another like him, at least for me.