That Giant Sucking Sound

Is the sound of my week so far.

On Monday, someone left an anonymous letter in my mailbox complaining about Scout barking. Because I am really working on living mindfully and checking in with my body and feeling my emotions as they happen and not stuffing them with food, I noticed almost immediately that, for the most part what I was feeling was pretty freaking pissed off. Not that someone complained about my dog (because let's face it, no one complains more than I do about Scout) but because they chose such a cowardly, unneighborly, mean, unanswerable and chicken-shit method.

Also, I know they have a point.  He does bark too much.  We are really working on it. We try to keep him inside as much as possible and to bring him in as soon as he starts barking.  He's always in by 9:00 at night. We think he's gotten better by influence of the puppy, who is not much of a barker at all and who is smart enough to recognize that if someone has just gone outside and steps back inside the house, that person has probably just forgotten something.  It's not an entirely new person who might be Very Scary.

Anyway, we bought and installed a device that emits a high-pitched shriek when Scout barks and that seemed to deter him for the several weeks during which he cowered in the back room and refused to even go outside.  It seems to have worn off, though. Next, we're going to try one of those citronella bark collars, because even if it doesn't work, maybe it will help with the mosquito problem later in the summer. We will continue to try to train him, to buy expensive gadgets aimed at this addressing this issue, and we are even willing to bring in a dog trainer on a regular basis.

I would have loved to have said all this to the complainer in person so the person would know that we really are trying to do something about Scout, but I won't get that opportunity.  I hate anonymous cowards--I mean, have the courage of your convictions and don't hide behind snarky anonymity. (That first sentence in that letter is snarky, snarky, snarky.)

Then on Tuesday, I went back to my podiatrist to get the results of the latest MRI on my foot.  And the results are.... there are no results.  The MRI didn't pinpoint why I am once again in so much pain.  I mean, y'all, there are days when I CANNOT WALK on that foot.  Clearly something is wrong.  I was kind of hoping for an answer. It just doesn't seem like that much to ask.

And now to Wednesday: I started the day today by exploding Ana's clay creation that I was trying to bake in the oven.  Apparently, we did something wrong because BOOM, the next thing I know I was vacuuming out my oven.  (You do that, too, right?)  The smell was so acrid that Jane burst into tears and I had to open all the windows, thus letting out a bazillion dollars worth of heat.  Because, oh YES we have the heat on even though it is mid-May because it is in the freaking 40's, not that I'm bitter.

Also, today is one of those gray, rainy gross days. I mean, it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a zillion errands to run.  In the rain.  Most of them completely fruitless.  To wit: during Edward's latest illness, he peed on my couch.  The good couch, as opposed to the one the puppy has been gradually eating.  I was able to wash the micro-suede couch cushion covers but the foam on the inside was a complete loss.  About two weeks ago, I finally found someone who could re-stuff the covers (most places refused since they weren't actually getting to recover the cushions themselves, which just... I... WHATEVER.  I have stopped taking it personally when people don't want to take my money.  Even when it's for doing next to nothing.  (Okay, I haven't TOTALLY stopped taking it personally.)) I've made two trips over to the store to pick them up and NO CUSHIONS.  The first time the woman didn't call to tell me that the special five inch foam hadn't come in as ordered and just now I went back and the shop was locked up tight with a closed sign on it.

Y'all, this IS New York.  Do you think there is a black market for couch cushion covers?? IS THIS THE WORK OF ORGANIZED CRIME???

Meanwhile, I decided to have this woman also give me a bid on recovering the couch that the puppy keeps nibbling.  I packed everything up into my van (did I mention it is raining?) before I went over there just now. So, now I have one couch that looks like this:

And another one that looks like this:

And house guests coming tomorrow.

The cleaners are here.  Where are they going to put the couch stripes??

You know, maybe Scout barks so much to keep from just hauling off and biting people.  I kind of feel like biting someone.


Unknown said…
Scout is old and crazy. I hope people are nicer to your anonymous neighbor (and relevant caretakrs) when s/he is old and crazy, if not already.
ccr in MA said…
I totally feel like biting people, frequently. Or at least snapping at them. Or crying like a baby when frustrated.

Being the adult sucks so often, actually! I hope you're near the end of this time of extra-super-condensed-suckage.
Tiny Tyrant said…
Well you definitely have cowardly neighbors.

Last place I lived the neighbors got the same pet supply catalog I did on the same day. I'd already ordered the bark collar (the one that shocks them) that they came over to point out in person.

And you guys have a huge yard and if he's in my 9pm you are not violating any noise ordinances. Your neighbor can come bite me, I have three dogs and they and I will bite back for you. :-)

Unknown said…
Ok the snark level in that note is just un-called-for. Bad enough it was anonymous, but that is just...arrrrgh!

(and the cleaners can come put the stripes on my couch...just sayin)
It's so hard to ignore something when every fiber of your being craves confrontation. I had a similar problem with a redneck neighbor back in Texas. I sent him a personal letter, shaming him with polite language. He never bothered me again.
kim said…
Okay, that is super sucktastic. I must admit, and yet. If you were the star of a sitcom of your own life, it would be freakin' hilarous. But only if you were a fictional character, which I assure you, you are not. So, um, that stinks!
I'm sorry. That letter would have upset me, too. Is it so hard to knock on someone's door and ask that the dog be kept inside more? Sometimes I wonder whether anyone ever really grows up, you know?
Maggie said…
I admit that I have nothing to say to make you feel better. I just don't think there is anything that wouldn't be condescending and patronizing (although the other commenters did really well- wish I had thought of what they said, especially the hugs and I'm sorry part). I want you to know that I'm here on the other side of your blog, reading and learning and witnessing and admiring YOU.
Susan said…
At least they didn't complain to the police like some dog-hating neighbors did to me a few years ago. When the policeman phoned me about the complaint he did a double-take when I said that the incident happened at 7 p.m., not 7 a.m. as he has assumed, and that the said barking incident lasted for 30 min. while I was on the phone with a (crazy, and probably drunk) parent of a student of mine at the time (yeah, it was one of those days). Thankfully the nice dog-friendly policeman decided that my neighbors were idiots and pleasantly wished me a good day.

Which brings me to my point, and I do have one. Some people are idiots and there isn't a lot you can do about it. Seriously, how many people make more noise outside than your dog? The guy with the honking lawn mower/leaf blower/hedge trimmer? The guys with the souped up cars that apparently have had their mufflers removed? The ones with the car stereo speakers that can trigger earthquakes in areas where that sort of thing happens? The children shrieking as they run through a sprinkler? Cats fighting under your window in the middle of the night? I mean, come on. Dogs, even noisy ones, are part of our lives in suburbia. And sometimes they bark because, well, they're dogs. It's not like you're leaving Scout outside all night barking.

Anyway, you touched a nerve. (You think?)

As for the couches, tell your company that you are going for a Japanese zen thing and that they should take off their shoes and sit cross-legged on the floor. Maybe you should take the concept even further and hang a bunch of wind chimes throughout your and make your anonymous neighbors listen to that all night after you bring Scout in.

I have been in considerable pain due to a fibro/TMJ flare for a few weeks so I totally know how you feel about your foot. Biting someone would make me feel better too at this point.
ToyLady said…
The note-writer is a jerk. No, a jerk HOLE. And what is up with the "royal we"? Really?

My Jarly was outside one evening shortly after we got him while we were cooking dinner and we (Oh. My. God.) left him outside barking for all of maybe 20 minutes while we drained the pasta or whatever we were in the middle of. He gets lonely. Well, our neighbor guy (a guy with no kids, and no wife (anymore) who works nights so he's been known to come home and mow his lawn in the middle of the night) yelled out his window to "shut the dog up or put a bullet in him." At 5:30 in the evening. . . yeah, he was probably sleeping, and yeah, the barking was annoying, but SUCK IT UP, BUTTERCUP. (And shut the window. You know, like we have to do when he's outside using his un-muffled, smoking mower right under our living room window at 8:00 on a Sunday morning.) (And not complaining about it.)

Anyway. Some people are jerks, jerks like your guy are jerks AND weasels. Don't torture the poor dog, just to please someone who OBVIOUSLY is a mean, lonely person who gets off on being a petty sneak.

Plus, isn't it illegal to shove non-mail in a mailbox?

A petty, sneaky, jerky CRIMINAL WEASEL. THAT'S what he is. Bah.
The Dister said…
O.k. so as promised, non-dog lover/non confrontational person weighing in. I should be more specific - I love dogs - LOVE them, just don't want one in my house and probably, wouldn't want to live next to a barking one. And just so there's no misunderstanding, I think your neighbours can suck it. So there.

However, the sound of a leaf blower or kids running through a sprinkler, in my opinion, aren't the same as a barking dog. A barking dog is sort of like a screaming child - very hard to take after more than 5 minutes. I think it could be the sporadic-ness of the barking. Maybe Scout barks for 5 minutes and then stops for one. Then starts again, then stops. Just when you think it's over, it starts again.

I have new neighbours living above me (and I am WAY over living under someone and should just move - but we aren't going to, yet). They turn up thier stereo/tv in the living room so that they can hear it in the kitchen (one end of the apartment to the other) and it's not rattling my windows or anything, it's just it's this constant background noise that I don't want and it's not even particularly good music. I can hear it over my own tv - which I have to turn up - which gives me a headache which makes me grumpy which makes me fantasize at night about knocking on their door and yelling at them but I don't. Because I am so not interested in the confrontation and hard feelings. I might write them a note though.

Perhaps that note was written after a sleepless night (which had nothing to do with you) or after a fight with his/her spouse. Maybe deep down, your neighbour realizes he/she is wrong but writing that note made them feel better. Now, whenever Scout barks they can tell their friends "I've complained about him, I don't know what else to do".

Those are my thoughts from my side of the fence. No insight, of course or solution. Would a muzzle help (or is that cruel?- it's mandatory for some types of dogs here - I apologize if that's a stupid suggestion).
Miri said…
Oh my. That note is so... sanctimonious. There is NOTHING to chap my hide like a neighbor being holier-than-thou.

Want I should come out to New Yawk and give him a cowgirl lesson?

Also, your couch and mine look the same. Cushionless.
Miri said…
OH! PLUS!!! I am eight months pregnant and really hormonal. (Read: bitchy.) I could freak out any neighbor and/or upholsterer of your choosing. Not sure I could actually fly there though.
Nina said…
the anonymous writer should shut up themselves! it's not like you TOLD sweet little scouty to bark...
Unknown said…
now thats the burbs for you .. see that keeping up with the jones is not so fun after all tell them gradd cutting every sat on cue haters to drink a cold cup of coffee with a bad tooth .. and till next time 2 sugars 3 creamers and ill holla
ckh said…
So, as much as that sucks, it's feels kind of good (in a sick sort of way) to make fun of them to the entire world on the Internet.

I'd say that as soon as you train Scout to stop barking, encourage your kids to go outside every day to scream and yell. And buy a drum set.

They'll wish the dog were barking again, just like those people in front of us on that plane that one time who asked us to shush the movie my kids were watching quietly only to discover that without the movie, my kids were restless and a bigger pain.

I'm just saying...
jennyp said…
It is always odd that someone would think an anonymous nasty complaint will get better results than a pleasant, "I have a concern" conversation. The former makes the nicest among us dream of revenge, while the latter perhaps leads to compromise. Granted, when my 2 boxers begin barking, we bring them in right away - we have a small, Florida backyard. Yours looks large enough that I can't imagine Scout is barking under anyone's window. I'm not sure how the letter writer expects you to reply. Perhaps you should stand in the front yard yelling, "We're working on the barking thing!" for an hour or two. That certainly wouldn't be annoying! And I really want to know what the person signed themselves as on the letter. A what neighbor? It's driving me a little crazy!
Barb Matijevich said…
Sorry, JennyP, it's the name of our neighborhood. Like, "Old Crotchety People Farms."I crossed it out so we wouldn't be so easily found. I'm not sure why I don't want to be easily found seems like the right thing to do. Maybe I should put the neighborhood name and then I'd find some friends united against anonymous cowards or something.

I love your "standing in the yard yelling" idea. I really may try it. I'm thinking about 6AM tomorrow.

Not that I'm still bitter...
Joni said…
As someone who has left a note on a neighbor's door telling them that their dogs had been barking for over 45 minutes (they weren't home - I went over to knock), I can see your point, but I feel their pain. We have neighbors who are pretty good about bringing their dogs in during the week if they are barking, but seem to thinking nothing of leaving them out for hours and hours when the leave -- and they bark at everything and everyone. They are across the alley and down a couple of houses and I don't know them. The barking drives my noise sensitive child nuts!
CP said…
Don't you just hate passive/aggressive people!? and in New York no less! I am surprised as we are usually right up in your face kind of people...

unless you're on Long Island, which doesn't count at all. LOL

Great post!

Susan said…
We cam home from a 3 day trip for which we hired a dog sitter to come twice a day to visit and walk our dog. She arrived on day 3 to find a Citation on the door from the Police Department - someone in the neighborhood complained because our little 7 pound dog was barking (in the house) at 11 pm on Monday night. We let the neighbors know we would be away and we had a dog sitter coming. Why would they call the police? Geez. How loud could it have been?
Sue O said…
I can really relate and can only imagine how infuriated you felt. It could be worse however, our across the street neighbor has dogs that back constantly and someone in the neighborhood called the police one morning. The cruiser used MY circular driveway to turn around in which set MY two dogs to barking and he actually came to the door to tell me to quiet them down! I politely told him that if he had NOT been in MY yard with HIS cruiser they would be quiet! He chuckled, appologized and left!
Murr Brewster said…
I don't know how long your house guests are planning to stay, but this looks like a genius move to me. Stuff the fridge with tofu and tell them to help themselves, too.