Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours
When you decide to launch a large fireworks display in a condensed urban neighbourhood, are you thinking that it’ll be totally fun to make any local toddlers think their house is under attack? I can’t fault the baby for waking up and screaming. That’s the appropriate reaction to bombs going off on the roof. I like fireworks. But I like them in a big field. Or over the water. Not on top of my house. *casts disapproving look on all the people who organize the display the next street over*
When I first went on maternity leave in 2011, before Charlie was born, we had an incident one day where I was at a doctor’s appointment and our nanny at the time accidentally left the dog in the backyard. The dog does not like to be left in the backyard. As much as she does love barking at the squirrels and all the other neighbourhood dogs, and rolling in the mud/grass combo we have going on, she actually prefers to chill with us inside. She wasn’t happy. She barked. It was probably an hour.
I returned home to a threatening note on my front door. I can’t even remember exactly what it said, but my first reaction was to be quite shocked. I’d like to think that if a neighbour’s dog was unusually barking for a long period of time, I’d be concerned about their owner’s well-being. I’d be wondering if they were okay, because why aren’t they bringing their dog in? But this person viewed the barking dog solely as an affront to him and the neighbourhood. There was no please or politeness. There was overt hostility.
One day when Charlie was still very new, she (the dog) was outside yapping for about 5 minutes and I was trying to feed him, and I had a friend over all at once. I didn’t call her back in in time, and there came this neighbour (I assume the same one) to the door to complain. I politely explained, while breastfeeding a newborn, that I had my hands full, and he kind of needed to chill. He works from home, he said, and he can’t deal with the barking.
A few months later, we received notice of a noise complaint against us and the dog. Really? *Really?*
Mark called animal control to explain the situation. Because of the first incident, that would likely never repeat again, we were being persecuted. We are not bad dog owners. We are not bad neighbours. Any time the dog goes outside to talk to the squirrels and other dogs (because we live in an area full of dogs, dogs who also bark, like almost every house has one) she comes back in 2 minutes later (literally, use a timer, she barks once or twice and we call her back in). They were very reasonable and said it would be up to the complainant to document the extent of the noise complaint, which should be used for long-term consistent barking and true noise pollution.
There’s a house around the corner from us with a pristine green lawn, with a little sign stuck on a wooden stake in the middle. It explains that dogs need to stay off of their grass and not pee on it because they’ve worked very hard on their garden. There is also no please or thank-you, and I think expecting dogs to be able to read is really a bit much.
We have neighbours across the street with a wind chime. God, I hate that wind chime. You want to talk about noise pollution? On a consistent, daily basis? But do I call anyone? Do I leave a note on their front door? Nope. I think it’s part of the urban contract. You live in a condensed urban area, you put up with wind chimes. And fireworks. And jerks who hate your dog and you. And dogs peeing on your lawn. You don’t like it? Move away. Where you don’t have to interact with anyone.
We moved into the city fully aware that you take the bad with the good. That’s the deal. And it’s completely worth the wind chime tones.