A Cumbrian village is feared to be perilously close to all-out conflict following a terrier's angry accusation that a labrador is intruding "repeatedly and with clearly provocative intent" into disputed territory in front of the terrier's garden gate.
"There is long-standing acceptance that the Gate Zone, whilst not strictly mine, is a crucial 'buffer' territory," said Nipper, "but Goofy strides through it every day. Although he claims to be walking for recreational purposes there are clear signs that his incursions are for intelligence-gathering. I have monitored him closely while he sniffs fenceposts within the Zone, and there have even been instances of urinary attempts at territorial acquisition."
The stand-off has a long history, dating from Nipper's arrival in the village and his immediate instigation of a total exclusion zone of one mile around his home. Dogs who already lived there were forced to assert their traditional right of occupancy and prolonged negotiations were necessary to ensure all dogs had right of passage to the nearby park. A strip of land running past Nipper's garden was set aside for this purpose, but Nipper insists that the strip is restricted to the other side of the road, where there is no pavement. In a move widely regarded as a means of ramping up inter-canine tension, he has begun to claim that the labrador is secreting mass-destruction capabilities and he cites legal advice suggesting that this renders all agreements void and entitles him to leap the fence in a pre-emptive strike.
The anti-Nipper camp appears to be weakened by internal disagreement. Questioned by reporters, Goofy, in a clear attempt to avoid further escalation of the situation, would only comment "Hello, will you be my friends? I like biscuits. Do you have any biscuits?" But a spokesman for the labrador later delivered a much more hard-line statement. "We have lived tolerantly, perhaps too complacently, with this fundamentalist presence within our community for far too long. It is time for a war on terrierism. We must adopt an altogether more muscular labradorism."