Thursday, June 23, 2011
We live in a duplex. We live in a duplex for a myriad of reasons really, the biggest reason being mostly financial, because the duplex we live in is relatively cheap. We also live in a duplex because we don't have a ton of stuff or need a lot of room. We have found that there are downsides to sharing living space with people we don't know very well as well as upsides.
One of the downsides is when we moved in, I asked how much you could hear between the units and I was told you could hear nothing. I realized that maybe if your hearing is not that good, you won't hear anything but my hearing is pretty good and I can hear quite a bit. One of the upsides is when you need help with a quick fix, such as my neighbor who has a baby, she can poke her head out the door and yell, "come and sit on my couch for a minute while I run and pick up my daughter from school?" and the problem is easily solved.
We live in a duplex and we have a dog. We also have a cat, but this is about the dog. Our dog comes from a long line of dogs that are bred for their ability to guard. He is a very good guard dog and when the person we share a wall with, the duplex neighbor, lets her dogs out in the backyard or walks into her backyard, our dog notifies us by barking. He also barks at one other neighborhood husky that he truly hates but the majority of the barking is at our duplex neighbor's dogs and the neighbor herself. He loves this neighbor by the way - she is a dog person and he loves her to pieces and loves to lick her and sniff her crotch when he sees her out on the street. But he has to guard his family and so he tells us when she is out and about in the back yard. This causes a problem for us because our neighbor is also the property manager and she feels like she cannot enjoy the summer and her backyard because of our dog raising up a shit storm of noise whenever she sets foot in the backyard. She has asked us to take steps in training him to not guard his family that involve a can and noisy coins or a cup of water in the face. We have assured her we will try whatever it takes because 1) we would rather not be evicted and be homeless and 2) we need to try to settle this amicably and 3) putting him down or using a bark-less collar or a shock collar is inhumane to us.
Did I mention she has 2 dogs? She has 2 dogs. And they are nervous barkers. They bark at the mailman. They bark at the UPS truck. They bark at the PG&E man. They bark at the Mormons. They bark at the Fed Ex man. They bark at the Arrow water truck. They bark at the garbage trucks. Sometimes in the winter they get started barking for no reason and they just bark and bark and bark and they don't stop for a really long time. One night at 3am they started barking and they barked until I was wide awake. I have been really patient and understanding of our living situation and the fact that we share space and have not made it an issue. I once tried to bring it into conversation casually just to say, "Wow, your dogs do not like it when you are gone" and I got shut down. I got shut down again last night when I tried to bring up that mutual respect and admiration of each others pets is important. I have come to realize that there is not any situation that is going to allow this neighbor to see things from my perspective or my side of the fence.
The biggest bummer in this situation is that I really like this neighbor with the 2 dogs. I really like her a lot. But no matter how I try to bring up the dog situation I get shut down or she gets defensive and I don't know how to progress or how to handle this. No amount of good communication on my behalf is helping me with this. The single hardest thing for people to do is self assess and I guess this extends not just to their kids but also their animals.
I think it is time for us to buy a house.