Monday, May 2, 2011

When the Dog Barks

I know that the words to My Favorite Things are “when the dog bites,” but this is about dogs barking, not biting, and as such is about as far from my favorite things as headache-inducing, sleep-depriving, nuisance sound can get.

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the best course of action in a given situation.  Of course, I want to do the right thing, but I simply don’t know what that is beyond what I've already done.  I rarely ask for advice, frankly because I like to keep my own counsel, but I'm currently at a loss. Here's my problem:

I have only one neighbor whose property line runs contiguous with ours for about 150 feet; all of my other neighbors are across, up, or down the street.  This one neighbor has two large dogs – nice dogs from what I can tell – that she keeps on her property. They do not roam about the neighborhood and as such, she appears to be a responsible dog owner. She and her family often go away for the weekend and leave the dogs behind.  They have a kennel in the back yard for the dogs and I’m not suggesting neglect.

The problem arises when she, or whomever she has entrusted to check on the dogs, forgets to put them inside at night.  That alone, of course, would cause no problem for me, but for the fact that when the sun goes down the dogs bark ceaselessly into the dark.  Sadly, for me, the dark is in my backyard and our shared wooded area so that the projection of their barks from where they are kept into the back of my house is not only direct, but also somehow magnified by the layout between the two spaces. Therefore, those of us with bedrooms in the back of the house receive the full effects of the deep, rich, and constant canine concert.

This has happened at least four times in the last two years, most recently on Saturday night between 6:15PM and 12:20AM. There seemed to be a bark break between 11:20 and 12:15.

Yes, this is my pathetic whiny voice: I’m tired and quite angry at this point.

The last time this happened, last spring, I told the neighbor casually the next time I spoke to her months later and she acted shocked: “You need to tell me. I have no way of knowing unless you tell me!” and then she proceeded to complain about other neighbors’ dogs.  It would seem reasonable that I needed to tell her about the problem except that she knows her dogs have a barking problem; her husband told me shortly thereafter  that the dogs have barking collars and they are working with the dogs because other neighbors have complained. Also, when you leave your dogs alone for a weekend – of course you're not going to have any idea of the problem they are! 

This time, I couldn’t get to sleep and the thought of discussing the problem with her as she deflected her responsibility got me too riled up. I asked Stephen to call her the next day (not my usual M.O. so you can tell how angry I was). She made the same excuses to Mr. Permanently Good-Natured: deflected her responsibility by talking about other neighbors’ dogs. Then she made some excuse about “the kennel door being left open.” Not a speck of responsibility for the fact that her dogs were out barking all night.  Actually, when Stephen said all night she corrected him saying, “Well, we got home at midnight.”  At 12:20, the dogs were still barking. I don’t know what happened after that.

I don’t want to be a bad neighbor.  I’ve tried discussing this with her several times since the last time, even commenting once that I hadn’t heard them recently, but the inexplicable kennel door being left open, as opposed to somebody not closing the kennel door, keeps happening.  My daughter couldn’t sleep.  I  couldn’t sleep. (Stephen can sleep through Armageddon.)
  
If we were on friendlier terms with them, I would offer to close the kennel door for them when they are out, but we are not on such terms, nor will I make further efforts with someone who has clearly been insincere to both me and my husband in the past.  I want to convey how serious the problem had become and so I have decided that I will call the police next time. 

Really, I’d rather not start down that road.

So now I’m thinking about buying an ultrasonic dog barking deterrent – like this http://tiny.cc/gs4v7.

Any suggestions, advice, comments? 

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