DEAR AMY: My wife and I have lived in a quiet neighborhood for 22 years. Four months ago, new neighbors moved in. We endured three months of noisy renovations, construction, tree removals, etc. before they moved in. Over the last month their two dogs have been left outside barking at 6 a.m., and then barking for 90 minutes at 6 p.m., and finally from 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. This was the final straw. I texted them three times and told them this was unacceptable, and finally that I would be calling the police (I didn’t call). They texted back the next day that they were away, and that we would discuss the situation. They came back and said that their daughter was home and that their dogs were in the house the whole time. They said it wasn’t their dogs barking. We got a denial, and no apologies were offered. Now they have the nerve to be mad at us. They aren’t talking to us. Any suggestions?
DEAR NEIGHBORS: It would have been very easy for your neighbors to own up to this and apologize, and a sincere apology on their part might have inspired you to feel more tolerant. But — they went another way.
And while I feel very sorry for you, I feel especially sorry for these dogs, because they are being kept in a neglectful household.
Even on quiet streets, stuff occasionally happens. Neighbors have to be tolerant of lapses and occasional disruptions. But if this dog situation is happening daily, or every weekend, or every time the neighbors are away, then you should do what you can to get their attention.
Look up the noise statute in your area. There will likely be a special mention of barking dogs (this is a very common noise complaint). You might be instructed to call the non-emergency number of the police department, animal control or the humane society. You have already warned them that you would do this; now you should be prepared to follow through.
Keep a dog diary. Make careful notes of the times and duration of the dog’s barking (it might be less often, and of shorter duration than you think). If necessary, record audio or video, especially of the late-night barking.
Noise statutes are there to codify this problem and to give you a path toward relief.
DEAR AMY: I would like to use your column to ask people to stop approaching women and men with babies and saying, “Is this your grandchild?” It took me a very long time to get pregnant and to finally have the baby I love. Perhaps this should not upset me so much, but it does make me so sad and angry when people ask if I am my daughter’s grandma. It would be so easy if people would just not assume. I was 48 years old when my baby was born; I am 50 now. Whenever I meet other older parents, we all have the same issue with people making these sorts of comments. Please put the call-out to get this to stop.
DEAR HAPPY: I am happy to help you broadcast your request, but it’s an unfortunate fact of life that people . . . say things. Sometimes people intentionally say hurtful things, but most often — dumb questions, doofus observations or random sentences just escape, and cannot be called back.
The wisest thing for you would be to come up with a response that makes you feel good, every time you say it, because if you think this is bad now, just wait until your toddler is old enough to play soccer.
I like to disarm with the truth. You can say, “I’m not the grandma, I’m just the world’s oldest and luckiest mom.”
DEAR AMY: Your response to the person signing her question “Lonely Woman” caught me up short. She was complaining about not finding the right guy, and your answer truly distinguishes the difference between a typical male response and that of a thoughtful woman. While I may have told the writer to “buck up” or “try harder,” your response was insightful (“your insecurity, desperation and habit of blaming others”), supportive, and provided proper direction. Thank you from a happily married man, who is always eager to learn.
DEAR FAITHFUL: I’m very grateful for the note of support. I don’t always get things right. But I do see this column as a place where people can learn, be inspired and help each other.