Tonight while I was at work I got a call from Lorraine, who lives next door, about my dogs. She was hysterical. According to her, Boomer was barking & she needed to sleep by 10pm (it was 10:24) & she was fed up & she was going to call the Humane Society. She said that he’s dangerous & if I thought a little wire (see Boomerproofing) was going to keep him from getting over the wall it was not. She said that he caused her all kinds of anxiety & she couldn’t even walk around in her back yard nor could she let her grandkids play in the back yard because she is scared of him. She ranted about being a homeowner, & having rights… & then she seemed to run out of gas & began mumbling. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t making words, just weird sounds. I tried to get a word in, but she kept mumbling incoherently. Then she hung up.
This was the first time I’d heard of a barking problem, & it seemed odd, since Boomer’s not really much of a barker. Lorraine had called me a few days before to let me know that one of her tenants (she rents out rooms) had seen Boomer get his head wedged between the wire canopy (again, see Boomerproofing) at the corner of the wall. I thanked her for letting me know & took care of it the next day by placing one of the green Opala carts (see the picture, below) in the corner so Boomer can’t even approach the corner. I’ve been looking around for a suitable 4′ – 6′ potted plant to put in that corner, because that’s frankly all it would take to keep him from jumping in that specific spot.
Twenty minutes later I was cruising outside with my camera on video. I had a friend drive me home so that my dogs wouldn’t recognize the sound of my car, & we quietly drove back & forth in front of the area where my dogs were allegedly barking, & then parked just outside. I kept the camera on to show on the car clock & my phone that it was 10:44. And that it was completely silent.
I hadn’t noticed a barking problem with my dogs. Yeah, they bark, but not really that much. I’d been open to the possibility that their behavior might be different when I wasn’t home, but apparently it wasn’t.
Here’s the ironic thing. Lorraine’s got 3 dogs, & they do have a barking problem. They are the reason that I installed an AC unit in my room, so that I could close my windows & have some white noise in order to sleep through their morning bark-a-thons. Could I have made an angry, irrational phone call to Lorraine? Sure. But I knew she left early in the morning & in fact most of the week isn’t even home, so wouldn’t be able to do much about it anyway.
One of her dogs has, on more than one occasion, barked fairly continuously for over 3 hours. This is because she is not home & the dog seems to get anxiety or something. This same dog runs away regularly & I have brought her back home twice. The last time I brought her back home, Lorraine was home, lazing on a couch. She didn’t even bother to get up when I brought her dog to her door. She just lay there & watched me let her dog in her door. And that was ok. Some people have less class than others. The important thing was that her dog was home safe.
I’ve ignored the 3 hour barking sessions. They’re usually in the evening, but I keep late hours & Lorraine’s dogs seem to save the thunder for some random point between 5 & 7am. Then all 3 of them go at it like their lives depend on it. It’s hard to sleep through even with the AC on, but I manage. Without complaining.
In Hawaii there is a law against dogs barking for 10 minutes straight or intermittently for 20 minutes within a half hour. So Lorraine can sic the Humane Society on me, but from the fencing on the wall to the fact that there is no barking to the obvious lack of Boomer ever getting over any wall, I doubt she’ll reap any reward. Perhaps HHS can also find the police report I filed against her last year when she & her friend drove past my front yard & shouted death threats at me & Madeline. Yes, these are adults. I was nonplussed. At the time I had called her & she had not answered. I left a message & waited until the next day for her to call back; when she didn’t I filed the report.
We’re very quiet here. I don’t play loud music. I even open & close doors quietly. I do my best to be a good neighbor. Lorraine’s household, on the other hand, is loud. You can tell when they come home on Fridays (they’re not there during the week; I can tell, because it’s quiet) because the dogs start up a frantic chorus, & her grandkids scream. Sometimes the screaming is so incessant that you can close your eyes & imagine that there is a slaughter going on next door. I know I do.
Lorraine has also had a friend at her house who is quite proud of going to some dog fight in Makiki, where a lot of the beat up dogs are put down after a fight, where they use dogs like mine. He then put a ladder up against the wall & climbed up to look over into my yard. Unfortunately for him I had been listening to him brag & was standing there glaring at him as his head cleared the top of the wall.
Madeline was barking incessantly that time. But she totally had cause. What a creep.
I wasn’t a dick about it. I went next door the next day & apologetically expressed my feelings of fear for my dogs. Why was he climbing the wall to look at them? Was he casing the property with intent to steal a dog? They were apologetic & I never saw him again, although I’m pretty sure I still heard him talking.
So what do you do when you have some bipolar witch screaming at you about something your dogs don’t seem to be doing? I suppose if she’s going to take the plunge & become unfriendly I have to go along with it. I’ll be looking into installing some surveillance cameras around the property, or at least facing her side. It’ll actually be good for me to be able to see what goes on when I’m not home, anyway. I do worry about her doing something as crazy as poisoning my dogs, but hopefully she’s not that crazy. I dunno.
Thoughts, anyone? This is a new experience for me. Have any of you had a bad experience with a neighbor? Any tips on how to approach a problem like this are greatly appreciated.