Don’t you just love dogs? Especially golden doodles? And especially Huckleberry, the very best golden doodle? Hey, me, too!
Speaking of dogs, this interesting exchange happened a few days ago. I could have handled it better. But I could have handled it a lot worse, too.
The other night, when I went onto the back deck to call Huckleberry in, a (mean) voice shouted at me from the dark shadows of the house next door: “Are you people DEAF or something? That dog has been barking for nine to twelve minutes! Nine to twelve minutes straight, I tell you! I’m calling animal services! I’ve been listening to this barking for three years and I’ve had it!”
My thinking went like this:
1. This is the first I’d heard that our dog’s barking was a problem. Why are you screaming at me?
2. Nine to twelve minutes? Are you sure it wasn’t eight? Or 13?
3. Not to split hairs, but the dog is only two years old…
Please note that, yes, our dogs bark. They bark when other dogs walk by, we shush them, they stop barking. If they continue, we bring them inside. We never leave them outside while we’re gone. There are dogs all around us, and in the evenings you can hear them throughout the neighborhood, yapping away – it’s nice, like the “Twilight Bark” from 101 Dalmatians (book, not movie).
But not everybody likes dogs, and if our dogs have been annoying the neighbor (I’ll call him, let’s see, Dick) then I was sorry about that. On the other hand, what reasonable person shouts at their neighbor like that without first addressing the issue like a grown-up?
So, when this voice came at me aggressively, I took a breath and called back (gently, I swear), “You know, it would have been really nice if you had approached me about this before, instead of screaming at me in the dark. I didn’t know the dogs were a problem. And I can’t even see you right now to talk about it with you.”
Dick: They sure are a problem! I’ve had it! I’m calling animal services if I hear them barking one more time. What kind of people are you, anyway?
Me: I don’t even know who I’m talking to. Is that Dick over there yelling at me?
Dick: You bet, it’s Dick! What kind of neighbor lets their dogs bark all day and all night? I’ve had it with you people!
Me (having “had it” myself): Fine. You want to talk about neighbors? What kind of neighbor plants trees that block their neighbor’s view, promises to trim them so they don’t get too tall, but never does? What kind of neighbor completely ruins someone’s view? It’s why we bought this house in the first place! I can’t see the foothills any more because of your trees!
Dick (now shrieking): Well, I like my trees!
Me (shrieking back): Well, I like my dogs!
I started off trying to be a grown-up, you guys, I really did. And if he was at all nice or respectful, I would have apologized immediately and promised to be more aware of the noise. Instead, after listening to him rant at me for another few minutes, I finally rallied my verbal skills and brilliantly put him in his place, saying, “You are just awful,” before going inside and slamming the door.
I am so eloquent! And mature!
FYI, slamming a sliding-glass door is just not that satisfying. It’s like trying to hang up on someone by slamming down the phone, except you’re on a cell phone and all you get to do is push a button.
Anyway, my family and I are now hyper-vigilant about bringing the dogs inside the second they give even the tiniest woof. I hate denying them their (three- or four-minute but never nine- to 12-minute) Twilight Bark, but neighborly relations must be maintained.
For the same reason, I will not sneak out at night to cut down the offending trees, even though I no longer get to watch the sun setting over the foothills (they never got permission for those damn trees from the HOA, but did I yell at them? I did not.).
The moral of the story is, don’t go out on your porch at night if you live next to a tree-growing, dog-hating, shadow-lurking guy. And if you’re going to sink to the level of that lurking guy, brush up on your insults, because “you are just awful” really doesn’t make you feel that clever. At the very least, I should have told him, “You’re barking mad.”
Have fun til next time,
PS: The thing about those trees? We had pointed out, when the neighbors planted them, that eventually the trees would block our view, and Dick offered to let the trees fill out horizontally but to keep them trimmed at the top, which seemed like a solution that would make everyone happy.
The trees then proceeded to grow at an almost alarming rate which I bet surprised even Mother Nature. It’s like those trees perversely wanted to block our view as quickly as possible. And, of course, they never trimmed them…