Now how does that old saw go? “Fences make for feuding.” No, that wasn’t it. “Good neighbors are hard to come by.” Nope, not that either. “You can meet your neighbor on Facebook anyway, so go ahead and build a fence.” Hmmm, maybe not.
I recently moved from the garden formerly known as the Last Frontier Garden, to my current abode a couple of months ago. I haven’t named the garden yet but I’m thinking along the lines of “Lady and the Pack of Tramps” or “The Shaggy Dog (across the Street)”, or even “All Dogs Go to Christine’s Yard”. My gripe today is twofold, both folds having to do with neighbors and their animals.
A good neighbor is like smooth chocolate fudge. A joy that I don’t encounter nearly as much as I would like. So we’re all on the same page, my low bar for good neighbor includes the following:
1. does not operate a meth lab or brothel on the premises
2. does not have more than one (OK, this is Alaska, so I’ll say two) junk vehicle(s) in a permanent auto coma in the front yard
3. keeps track of their domestic beasts, including spouses and children, and doesn’t allow them to make public nuisances of themselves with regularity (politicians not excepted)
Is this a difficult thing, oh readers? I am writing from the viewpoint of the perky, friendly neighbor here, the one that brings cookies to the new move-ins. It’s not a natural behavior for me, I’m more independent and surly, but it builds character and I know I should do it, so I do. My last neighborhood became so friendly, we had neighborhood BBQ’s in the summer, right smack in the middle of the cul-de-sac. Out of a dozen houses, only one or two wouldn’t show. Not bad, eh?
Of course, like any neighborhood, there were warts. One dog, a beagle, would howl and bark and bay, occasionally for hours at a time. I realize beagles are a noisy breed, but how on earth can you ignore that? My plan of listening to AC/DC really loud only worked 'til the kids came home from school. Then what?
Well, I thought I had escaped the beagle and the roaming cats (I’m saving that topic for another day after I’ve had my Valium) by moving. I have an acre now. Everyone else in the ‘hood has an acre or more, so I naively thought all my animal problems were solved. Not so, said the little white yappy dog that appeared in my garage one day. Some folks just aren’t thinking of others now, are they?
I have to imagine the inner monologue here, as I just can’t believe I’d do this myself: “If I enjoy Fluffy then everyone will! I’ll just turn him loose for a few hours and hopefully he won’t maim anyone with pet allergies, knock toddlers off their tricycles, or get into any fights with wolves, cats, dogs, Republicans, or animal control officers. I hope he stays away from the street, he could be hurt there. Also, it would be great if he didn’t get into the garbage with such zest on trash day. I love my pet! Go free, Fluffy, go free!!”
Yes, you guessed it. We have dogs in the ‘hood. Lots of dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, fat dogs, old dogs, but most of all (gripe one) loud, (gripe two) roaming dogs. I’ve lived in this city over thirty years and never seen another neighborhood like it. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I moved into an off leash dog park.
I wake up to dogs barking at 6:15 every morning. For the past two months. I am lulled to sleep every night, say 11:15ish by dogs. (I think I am beginning to formulate a Dr. Seuss book about it all: “Dogs in the morning, dogs at night, every day a fright, fright, fright!”) I know I haven’t moved into some Twilight Zone vector of selectively deaf and blind pet owners, because I see a couple of people walk their (non-barking) dogs on (hallelujah!) leashes, so their are a few Responsible Neighbors. One of these jewel-of-a-neighbors observed, “Yeah, this neighborhood is weird about dogs. I’ve never been in one like it before.”
My solution: bake bread/cookies/edible items, and walk over and meet the worst offenders. I am tired of waiting for them to come meet the new neighbor (i.e. me), and it seems unkind to just introduce myself to gripe, so I will have a complaint free intro and get phone numbers. I’m thinking something along the lines of “Oh, hi Marge, sorry to disturb you so late at night, but Fluffy seems so agitated. She’s been barking for twenty minutes. Is everything OK?” (I won’t mention that I can hear the barking in every room in my house with the exception of the bathroom. My bed won’t fit in there, anyway.)
I am losing my mind.
Had any neighbor problems? Do you recommend a different approach?