I live on South Poes Road, a winding, seemingly undistinguished, quiet, two-lane thoroughfare at the east end of the county. “National Geographic” isn’t going to show up anytime soon to train their cameras on our exotica, nor is Vanity Fair going to chase us down to document our chic, trendy lifestyle. On the surface, we lead common lives, friendly, helpful when need be, but never intruding into a neighbor’s business.
That was until recently. Now our lifestyle is disrupted, in disarray, and we are confronted with the most unlikely of foes: the upscale, polished, embellished, rarified denizens of the American Kennel Club world.
Barking dogs have displaced a braying donkey and the occasional call of wild geese flying by. Concerns for massive amounts of dog waste generated by as many as 45 dogs in a six-acre area, overbuilt with dog pavilions, dominate our conversations. Shock that our property values may decrease substantially because, according to real estate sources, “no one wants to buy near a kennel,” has us reeling.
In the weeks to come you may hear many sides to this story: the consequences of inaccurate tax maps, the decline of property values near kennels, the irritation of dogs barking, the reluctance of residents to bother the sheriff’s animal control officer with incessant dog noise pollution, and especially the diffidence of county officials to consider the desires of a settled, stable community in favor of the glamour of blue ribbons and blueblood-bred canines .
Others will probe the legality or lack of same of those issues. But I hope the problem will be resolved, quickly and easily, that these kennel owners will see that South Poes is a rural unassuming place, extraordinary because it is so very ordinary, special because it doesn’t try to be, but not suited for their rich tastes. (Estimate: $80,000 cost to build a kennel to house dogs.)
South Poes Road is not an area conducive to raising Westminster Kennel Club show dogs, especially since the proposed kennel borders the untamed woodlands through which winds the paths of wildlife: deer, wild turkeys, foxes, coyotes and several bears and their cubs, as they use this corridor often to cross South Poes Road. Additionally, it is a popular roosting place for crows.
I will write again about the points of historical importance on South Poes: the African American family burial ground dating to the 1870, the original Hackley’s Corner, the once vibrant saw mill and the Grigsby-Brown homestead and historic building.
But for now I, and the residents of the surrounding 14 properties, hope that, as would befit their quest for a posh, civilized lifestyle, the kennel owners will exit South Poes gracefully for pastures lush with gold, champagne and satin ribbons.
This is not Leesburg, it is Amissville.
Please leave our homey fields of green and let us return to pre-canine peace and quiet.
Cultural anthropologist formerly of the Smithsonian Institution