Friday, August 21, 2009


A couple of months ago, some new neighbors moved into the house behind us. I don't think I would have noticed if I hadn't seen the "Sold" sign in their yard when I was out on a walk one day. We live in the suburbs, where privacy fences and trees work well for privacy, but do little for neighborly relations. Added to that, the houses behind ours sit much lower than the houses on my street, so its almost impossible to see into one another's backyards.

When the "new people" moved in, it wasn't long before my kids announced that they got a new chocolate lab puppy. Kids aren't held in by boundaries like privacy fences. Errant baseballs and curiosity have them climbing fences or peeking between the slats to see what's on the other side.

I soon learned that the new puppy's name is Charlie. I know this because Charlie would go out for his morning potty break at about 4:00 a.m. And once in the yard, Charlie liked to explore and wasn't interested in going back inside. So Charlie's mom would stand at the back door and call, "Charrrrr-lie," in a pleasant enough voice, but it still carried through our open bedroom window and into my sleeping ears.

Charlie is about three months old now and prefers being inside with his people, while they now want him outside. So he tells them in the only way he knows. He barks. And barks. The weather has been nice enough to have all of our windows open and the AC off, and last night his barking was getting on my last nerve. It was late, it's a good 10 minute walk around the block to their house, so I did the next best thing. I went outside, climbed up on a landscaping rock so I could peer over the fence and first beseeched Charlie to be quiet. Then, seeing Charlie's people inside their house, moving around just inside their open windows, I called, "Helllooooo!" in a friendly voice. Finally, Charlie's dad came out and seemed startled to see me hanging over the fence.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi," he said.

"We need to talk about your dog," I said.

"Okay," he said, no doubt wondering at this crazy woman hanging over his fence.

Our exchange was pleasant enough. He said they're trying to train Charlie. I explained it wasn't working, leaving him out to bark for 20 minutes at a time. We didn't come up with any solutions, but it was 10 o'clock at night and I was in my pajamas and perhaps we both just need some time to think about it.

For the sake of neighborly relations, I think I'll take some puppy biscuits over for Charlie later today and introduce myself. I'm not upset with Charlie. I think we're a lot alike in that we both just want to be heard.


Bill said...

It takes awhile to train dog owners. Even with time, some never learn.

Country Dreaming said...

Oh my goodness, I'm sorry I wasn't
there to see this exchange. I'm
sure you were looking good hanging over the fence in your PJ's. :)
Charlie sounds like a cutie until he barks for 20 minutes at night.
Well, try to have a good weekend!

Becky said...

Wow! You are so good at handling that sort of thing. Wise and just and joyful. Full of grace.

Not me. I hate ANY kind of confrontation so I just keep quiet and seethe. Then I get very upset that someone doesn't know how I feel. Like I expec them to read my mind I guess.

I admire your attitude and action. And I think dog biscuits are the perfect welcome to the neighborhood.

Sharon said...

I had a similar exchange with a neighbor a few years ago -- house across the street from me; family gathered in the front yard at about 10 pm...mindlessly unaware of their barking dog in the backyard -- and me needing to rise and shine early the next morning--

So, no introduction either, but getting straight to the point -- I also felt that was not the best way it could have been handled (prefer to know or at least have an introduction first) but it got the job done ;)

Hope Charlie stays inside/gets trained quickly/owners become more mindful of their neighborly responsibility --

Jen said...

Puppy biscuits would be so thoughtful. You handled it well...wish you lived behind me....we would talk it over with wine...

Donnetta said...

Nicely done! Best of luck in sorting this out!

This is definitely something I don't miss about not living in a neighborhood anymore.

Susanne said...

We used to have a neighbor right next door to us who would put their dog outside on a leash (their yard was not fenced all the way around). Their living room windows were barely off the the ground giving their dog full view of the inside of their living and eating area. That poor guy would sitting there whining in high volume for at least an hour at a crack. We couldn't even have our kitchen windows open when it was hot. Drove me nuts. I would have went over for a "chat" except I didn't trust myself to be as gracious and kind as you were.

Mary said...

We have neighbors up the hill who like to let their golden labs out to run pre-dawn. And then about 6 a.m., they go out and start yelling for them to come home. Amber and Molly. Sigh. The dogs aren't very good, and require a lot of yelling. I fall sound asleep around 3 and need to get up at 7, so I really value that hour. Someday I'm going to go up there and kick on their door, but I'm not as brave as you are.

Trailboss said...

Hey there....I met a "Charlie" Saturday. Check out my blog to see him. He is just too darn cute!

Robin said...

What a sweet person you are! In my mind I can see you hanging over the fence and it reminds me of the old show Home Improvement - the neighbor named Wilson who you only ever saw from the head up!
I hope Charlie enjoys his biscuits and I hope you enjoy some peace and quiet!

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Oh boy, I would hate to have a barker if I was able to have my windows open at night. As it is, our dog is a barker and I know the neighbors hate it. We try to make him stop, but he loves to bark :) I have often said that after we rescued him, if I had known he was a barker, I would have named him Bob instead of Beau, hahaha! Fortunately here, everyone runs the AC all the time and we try to be good about bringing him inside. We've never left him out for more than a couple of minutes of barking. It is hard though, and labs are high energy. I hope Charlie settles down and you guys become fast friends :)

diana said...

a peace offering is probably a good idea.

thankfully, i've never had this kind of situation to deal with. i've heard from many people who have issues with their neighbors. i don't know how i would handle it since i'm not comfortable with confrontation.

good luck.