Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Those neighbors...

We live in a town house. So we are physically very close to our neighbors. We share walls on both sides. We share fences for our tiny patios. We share airspace, and light, and sound.
I moved into our current residence a little over a year and a half ago. Winston moved in with me. The following May the household expanded to four of us, Myself, my husband, and our two dogs, Winston and Charlie. The four of us live cozily in our little town house.
We don't really know our neighbors. When we first moved in we introduced ourselves to the neighbors on one side. Hi... We just moved in here, we're your new neighbors! And the response was a blank stare and a-- "...and so what?" Okay then. No one seemed to be interested in being neighborly. We know the names of the people a couple houses down, we'll smile and wave if we both happen to be walking to the car at the same time, and Z works with a guy who lives around the block, but that's about it.
Zachary came home from work the other day and there was a lady he didn't recognize lurking around our front door. He walked in the front door and she watched him and went next door and was knocking on our neighbors door. He got a really uncomfortable feeling about her, so a few minutes later when we heard knocking on our front door we opted not to answer. I was home, and there had been knocking on the door that morning, but as a rule, when I am home alone and not expecting anyone, I don't answer the door. (You call it paranoid-- I call it no rapists in my house)
Anyway, we didn't put much thought to it, but later that evening when we returned from errands we received a rather strongly worded letter from one of our neighbors complaining about our dogs barking too much.
Initially we were like-- uh, yeah, our dogs do bark a lot. We didn't realize it was a problem, but we'll more closely monitor the situation, our neighbors have a right to peace and quiet, and there are a lot of dogs in the neighborhood that yip all day long-- it probably gets annoying if you are not a dog person.
But the letter went on to say that she had talked with all the neighbors on our block and all of our neighbors were very upset with us about the loud constant barking coming from our house and that we had done nothing to stop it.
As previously mentioned... we have lived in the house 1.5 years. We have made attempts in that time to create relationships with our neighbors, who never seemed interested in talking to us. Regardless, this is the FIRST TIME we have heard any complaint from any of our neighbors about our dogs. So the statement that all of our neighbors are very upset with us seems really strange. After a few days of observation Zachary determined that the author of the letter (who included her address) is the same lady who was lurking about our house that day when he got home... In our opinion, when you have an issue with the neighbors dog-- step one is you have a neighborly conversation (maybe when you happen to walk by them as the are getting home???) and say-- hey would you try to keep the barking to a minimum in the evenings? (to which we would have said-- hey, we're sorry, we'll definitely do that) But talking to all the neighbors and writing a snarky letter telling us everyone is upset with us? That seemed a little out of place to us. Especially given the number of dogs in the neighborhood... I am not denying our dogs bark, but surely we are not the only dogs in the neighborhood that bark, right?
Anyhow, we have been closely monitoring the dogs, especially in the yard for the past few days and they have done very little barking, but the barking that has occurred has been quickly stopped. We would have corrected the situation much sooner, had we known it was an issue for those around us. They have been really good boys. We are so proud...
Then yesterday I was in the backyard with the boys and I notice something on the fence. It was a small white electronic device similar in size to a remote. It was attached to our side of the fence so I went over to check it out... It had an on/off switch and a low/high switch on one side. A very small hole that looked like a speaker or a nozzle or some kind and it said "STOPBARK" across the front. It was turned on high. Well, that's interesting because I know we didn't put that there, it appears our neighbors surreptitiously installed this device on our side of the fence. I think it's one of those things that emits a high frequency sound that dongs don't like... or maybe it spews radiation or toxic waste in our yard. I don't really know for sure. But I find it interesting that rather than being a good neighbor and saying "Hey, we have an issue with your dogs barking, so you think you could address that issue?" They chose a much more passive aggressive (and expensive for them) route of installing an electronic device they believed would quiet our dogs.
Let me re-iterate. NO ONE HAS EVER BEFORE COMPLAINED OR CONTACTED US IN ANYWAY REGARDING THE NOISE OUR DOGS MAKE. Also, to my knowledge none of the other dog owners in the neighborhood have received complaints or requests to quiet their dogs...
So I guess the actions of our neighbors seem really odd and not at all 'neighborly' to me. At the very least, writing a snarky letter or sneakily installing devices on your neighbor's fence doesn't seem like the first or most effective step one might take in trying to resolve such an issue.
But that's just me.
Is it just me though? Do I have an unrealistic expectation of courtesy and neighborly-ness???


Crazy Days said...

Society is becoming so shitty. People have such little respect for one another these days.

Miss Mixie said...

You're being reasonable. They're being crazy.

April said...

I have to say that the electronic device thing seems hilarious to me, because it's so ridiculous. It sounds like something a writer would put in a movie or book. Have you removed it? Has the barking changed?
And no, I don't think your exprctations are unreasonable, but their not meeting them doesn't mean you can't live up to them. What an opportunity to represent Jesus! I hope it gets better soon!

ztoamom said...

It IS extreme and very likely exaggerated on her part. Lots of dog owners (clearly not you)are oblivious to the barking annoyance to the neighbors - sometimes they are gone when it is happening. (Why is it that some people have dogs that they never do any interacting with? They just imprison them in backyards and yell "shut up!" at them in the evenings and then are gone/deaf when the dogs bark at 3am for an hour... or more. This is a deep mystery to me)
They did not handle it in a gracious way that would have made neighborly contact. You are not being ridiculous. To non-dog people, though, it can be a huge frustration. A no-win thing. Did the device work do you think? *she asks yawning from early early morning barking-disturbed sleep*