The Hostile Neighbor

This is a continuation of “When Your Neighbor Hates Your Dog,” an earlier post.

If you haven’t read the above post (& are too lazy to), I’ve got this neighbor named Lorraine who hates my dogs.   She’s a middle aged doctor, she’s got 3 dogs that bark constantly, & she lives behind me as well as rents out rooms.

Back Story.   Our first dog-related contact was last year when I noticed that Boomer was jumping at the wall in the backyard (see “Boomerproofing“).   I was greatly disturbed, & within the hour I’d not only arranged to take Boomer to work with me that evening, but also stopped by at her house to talk to her.

She was off island; she’s gone a lot.   I left my name, number & email.   Since Boomer jumped in direct response to her dogs’ frenzied barking on the other side of the wall, I hoped that together we could be more vigilant of our dogs’ behavior & basically get all the dogs to settle down.

That same week I erected the fencing seen in the Boomerproofing photos, & made it a point to observe Boomer’s jumping “technique.”   The angle & impetus he would need to actually be able to grip the top of the wall were extremely unlikely, but to be safe I either fenced the wall top or placed obstructions at the foot of the wall.   I also took a saw to the mango tree & cut it to slope down toward the back wall, so that currently (it took several months but it is filling out nicely) there is very full foliage blocking a large potential jumping area.

We communicated amicably over the phone, but even when she was home she seemed to not hear her dogs’ choruses, which would result in Boomer becoming agitated & then jumping at the wall.   I called Boomer off every time I saw him jumping to the point where Madeline now “rats him out.”   If I am unaware he is jumping, she will come to the screen door & tailwag furiously while panting heavily & staring at me.   Once I call him off the wall she does this little “I told you so” dance around him.   It’s utterly cute.

How it started.   Boomer first began jumping when he was really little.   In the mornings, Lorraine’s dogs would get into a fence skirmish with the other neighbors’ dogs.   There would be this explosive bout of angry barking, & Boomer would leap out of bed (he slept with me) & go charging out the door (I had fixed it so he could let himself out) & to the back corner of the yard & jump.   I remember vividly the image of his lanky puppy body poised upright as he flew out my screen door, both front paws skyward from hitting the doorknob.   It ruined my sleep because I’d be laughing.

After awhile the other neighbors installed a solid vinyl fence along their back perimeter specifically because of problems with Lorraine’s dogs, & also because Lorraine’s backyard parties often resulted in unwanted rubbish in their yard – once even a lawn chair was thrown into their property.

Lorraine’s household has always been noisy.   She seems to be home only on the weekends, but on Fridays you could tell when she got in because her dogs would begin barking frantically, her grandkids would start screaming, & there would be stomping, slamming, & shouting through the main house.   When all is quiet through the week, all the commotion every weekend is unsettling.

I think my dogs began to feel that Lorraine’s side of the wall housed a threat when one of her visitors propped a ladder up on the wall & climbed up to get a look at my dogs.   I’d heard him chatting about how he is into dogfighting.   I was standing right there when he did it & I was creeped out, but I’m sure he made a lasting impression on my dogs.

The other neighbors.   Boomer was also jumping at the other neighbors’ side of my backyard, but that hardly happens any more.   Both sides were conscientious about convincing our dogs to relax.   They also partitioned off the segment of their sideyard which gave our dogs a line of sight at each other.   Boomer still jumps occasionally, but he’s blocked by fencing as well as not even trying to touch the top of the wall; he’s just trying to get a look.   There was a time when he got defensive even if he heard someone walking around on their side, but now he seems much less threatened by that side of the property.   Lorraine’s side is another matter, though.

Lorraine’s dogs today.   Lorraine’s dogs get into skirmishes with each other regularly, with enough angry barking to have my dogs trotting around in alarm.   For some time the skirmishes in the morning were disrupting my sleep so regularly that my therapist was concerned & I began experiencing vertigo, apparently from lack of sleep.   Rather than complain I installed an AC unit in my room so that I could close my windows & turn on some white noise.    On other days, one of Lorraine’s dogs just barks at the air, lonely & probably hungry, sometimes for up to 5 hours.   I’ve never complained about this either; I just ignore it.  When I am in the backyard, simply passing near the back wall often incites a paroxysm of barking from Lorraine’s dogs, which is fine, since that’s just dogs being dogs.

Boomer today.   Boomer still jumps in response to Lorraine’s dogs’ barking fairly often.   He’s not much of a barker; he growls sometimes but generally his jumping is silent, which is why Madeline so helpfully tattles on him.   I’ve seen his recent jumps & he’s not jumping for wall purchase at all any more; it’s just an attempt to see over the wall, & any areas he is able to jump are canopied.

Lorraine today.   This past Fathers Day I went to dinner with my family 5pm-7pm.   When I got home at 7 I received 2 texts from Lorraine: “Your dog has been barking continuously for more than an hour.   Please do something ASAP!” & “He has been barking a lot since 3pm. Please do something about that dog.”

Actually, she was probably talking about Madeline, who is a barker.   Normally I put Madeline in the house when I am out, but since I only anticipated being gone an hour, I left her outside, thinking it would be good for her.   I responded that I was putting Madeline inside the house now & that I had been home until 5pm & I knew there had been little to no barking at least until that time.   She never responded.

I hate liars.   I also hate petty people.

Police officer’s perspective.   The current “nuisance barking” law is 10 minutes continuous, or 30 minutes intermittent.   If officers are called for a noise complaint they’ll hang around outside listening for it.   They’ll time barking for no reason only; barking at passersby or other stimulus doesn’t count.

When I’m home, my dogs barely bark.   I’m home a lot.   My dogs don’t bark much, but when they do it’s only when someone is walking past the house either with a dog or on a skateboard.   The barking lasts maybe a minute tops, but most times it’s more like 10 seconds.   I’ve done my best to train Boomer out of barking; when he does make noise about something (usually a growl & a single bark), I go outside, check it out with him, & then make a scoffing noise & tell him that it’s ok & we walk back together.   When I do this he generally calms down right away; you can almost see him thinking “Oops.   Oh ok, heh heh.”   I want him to be able to tell when something is a real threat & when it’s not.   Or, in the fortunate absence of any real threat to learn from, I want him to at least know when something is not a threat.

Madeline, on the other hand, is a scaredydog.   She doesn’t calm down easily.   I take her out as often as I can but it’s not enough.   When I’m home I usually have to tell her to be quiet, & generally she listens.   If she doesn’t listen I will go outside & give her “the eye.”   And then she definitely listens.   Even Madeline doesn’t get all barky that often, though.

Chie used to bark a lot, but since Boomer got big & their pack hierarchy changed, she hardly barks as well.   If Madeline is barking Chie won’t bark at all.   Chie is quite content to sit back & let Madeline get scolded, then be praised for not barking.

Boomer does howl when ambulances go by though.   That also lasts less than a minute but it’s loud.   My cop friend said that that’s considered normal dog behavior.

Do they bark when I’m not home?   I asked my other neighbors about it, since I obviously can’t trust Lorraine.   They said that the dogs do bark when I’m not home, but it’s at people passing by on the street.   If there are people loitering, as sometimes there are when someone in the neighborhood has a party & guests are walking back to their cars conversing, my dogs bark until they leave.   Which sometimes takes a long time.

I don’t know anything about surveillance cameras but I’ve asked my more technically savvy friends if they could shop for some kind of camera set up for me so I can record video & audio on the few nights that I am gone.   While I highly doubt that there is anything that could be termed “nuisance barking” going on, I would like to know what exactly Lorraine is bitching about, or if she’s just completely lying about everything.   The incoherent phone call she made (mentioned in “When Your Neighbor Hates Your Dog”) makes me think she’s probably got a substance abuse issue, but it can’t hurt to document.

I also don’t trust her.   She seems like a dirty bitch.   I’ve come home to Boomer soaking wet from being shot with a hose; I don’t mind & he doesn’t mind (he loves the hose), but if she takes it upon herself to go any farther than shooting a hose over a 6′ wall, I want to know.

Anyway, here is a video of Boomer howling at an ambulance siren for your viewing (& listening!) pleasure.

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2 responses to “The Hostile Neighbor

  1. Too funny. I love your dogs! You were working that camera like you were filming a movie. Anyway, I remember seeing as I was walking by, an all in one box security camera package at Costco for about $200 that had cameras and a monitor. I don’t know if that’s a rip off or not, but Costco usually is cheaper for just about everything.

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