Monday, May 31, 2010

The midnight barker

3:01 p.m. Today's project was to post up a "barking dog" notice on the front entryway to the house of the neighbors behind us. Two previous visits to the house, one late morning, another early evening, were met with furious barking behind the wall or total silence, but no answer at the front door. Two large trucks are always parked facing out to the street, blocking the garage, but no one ever comes to the door. Quite a mystery!

This dog barks furiously between 11:30 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. when most people are asleep and their dogs are inside asleep as well. (Our two come in no later than 9 p.m.) I am often awake reading, but like last night after 12:00 a.m. as my head hit the pillow, the barking started up! Heidi has been kept up, awakened long after her 9:30 bedtime, a shame, because she has to be up by 6 a.m. to teach school. Steve wears his C-Pap, so he really can't hear anything. He was always an extremely sound sleeper anyway. The barking takes place 3-5 times a week.

I hit upon the idea of typing up an official-looking notice and taping it up, to get the attention of the owners: it has the Times Roman type font, and large block lettering. I made it look a little friendlier by adding a Clip Art picture of a dog with its mouth open! The notice reads:

May 31, 2010
Dear Neighbor at [their address]
We have heard your dog barking at 11:30 p.m., 12:00 a.m. and even as late as 1:00 a.m., disturbing our sleep several times a week. Many of us get up early to go to work and school.
Would you please bring your dog in at night? At least into your garage?
Thank you,
Your neighbors
Pretty polite, don't you think? And the printing of the notice was an answer to prayer itself, because our printer died yesterday and suddenly began working! Steve and I were a little nervous as we planned our approach, because the raging dog could actually leap the wall from the backyard. So we took the rounded, broken-off handle of a small gardening tool with us--we wouldn't want to have a real weapon like a knife with us, and we don't own guns. Images of Lucy and Desi in some zany scheme flashed into my head, but you never know, better safe than sorry!
Heidi had also put a scary idea into our heads--that maybe no one lives there, there's something shady going on, and someone just throws food over the wall once a day to the "guard" dog. From there I went on to wonder if it's not one of those random electronic barking dog gadgets that goes off to scare away burglars--a chintzy alarm system of sorts.
Maybe forthright action would be God's preference instead of panicking from our foolish "vain imaginations!" (Romans 1:21, KJV) Off we went, with our paper, packing tape, and garden tool.
While Steve got out of the car, which I parked at the curb for a better getaway, I put the tape on the top and bottom of the notice and grabbed my cellphone. I even left the car running--hey, you never know--and we went right up to the door, were met with silence, and taped up our note in broad daylight. A neighbor a few houses down glanced at us, but with the California primary election only a week away, probably figured we were leaving campaign flyers. That is something we were known to do every four years when I was on the school board. In fact, our family could flyer an entire neighborhood in an afternoon!
I'm glad we took a second step in requesting assistance with the barking dog, but we'll see what happens. The notice, from a distance, looks like something serious, so hopefully the person or persons will take it down and read it. Actually, disturbing the peace is a misdemeanor, and our county has nuisance dog regulations in place for situations like this. Romans 13:1 tells us we all have to obey the law. And Jesus made it clear that even He had to submit to the governing authorities whan He produced a coin from the mouth of a fish to pay the temple tax for Himself and Peter. (Matthew 17:27)
We've been diligent to be decent neighbors, keeping our kids and dogs under control, and making things right when we goof up. I remember the time we came home to find our dogs howling after Heather's 2008 wedding, at 10:30 p.m. (We had left home at 1:00 p.m. after a frenzied time with last minute details, part of the wedding party staying for the weekend and other bridesmaids helping out. Steve forgot to put out Jada and Bailey's food, understandable because they normally eat at 5:oo). Nobody's perfect!
We're praying for a thoughtful, cooperative resolution to this problem, because I really hate to call Animal Control, or, worst-case scenario, the police. My reason is simply this:
I Peter 3:11b says that we are to "seek peace and pursue it."

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