by Bella Rum
My next door neighbors have this dog that barks incessantly. He will go for what seems like hours. Bark, bark….pause…..bark….pause…..bark, bark… Every time you think he’s finished…..bark……bark….
He’s over there now, barking his fool head off. I’m not sure if they’re home. They don’t neglect him or anything like that. He was a mutt they saved from the animal shelter, and I know mutts are great. I’ve had a few, but I believe this poor dog is a bad mix. Too much of this, not enough of that.
I know he drives the husband part of the couple crazy because she’s told me. She loves the dog, though, and even with all the issues with neighbors (an incident with another dog in the neighborhood, persistent barking, and aggressive snarling, but he’s never bitten anyone), she has chosen to keep the dog.
Before Dad had the stroke and we moved in with him for a few years, that dog almost drove me to distraction. It was hard to have friends over in the warmer months. We would go outside on the deck and sure enough, he would start barking.
One evening I stepped out on the deck. It was dark. All I heard was gerrrrr. The aggression was palpable. Scared out of my wits, I slowly backed into the house and closed the door. He had gotten out of their fenced backyard and was in my backyard, which he obviously considered his territory.
I dealt with it. I’ve lived in one suburb or another my entire adult life. I figured out early on that when houses are fairly close, people do things that annoy one another. It’s best to ignore most things because you’re bound to do things that bug your neighbors, too. I became a pretty good neighbor, doing all those neighborly things: taking cakes over when someone got sick or died, giving out great candy on Halloween, never playing loud music unless I invited the neighbors, and I never complained about anything.
So we put up with the barking dog, and offered no opinion when another neighbor complained about him. As for the next door neighbor, we had always spoken across the fence or from her porch to mine, but we were not what you’d call buddies. We were friendly but not friends.
Then Dad had a stroke and life became very difficult. I drove back and forth to the nursing home every day. It was 140 miles round trip. That’s when the next door neighbor started doing little things that made my life easier.
She would show up with an entire dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook. She would gather our mail or get our packages. She would let me know when something was happening in the community that I should know. She kept me up on all the neighbors.
After four months, we took Dad out of long-term care and moved in with him. Our house stood vacant for over three years. She literally watched over it for us. She offered up her son to mow the lawn when H couldn’t keep up with it. When a huge tree died in our backyard, she took care of finding someone to take it down, hiring them, and interacting with the company. All I had to do was pay the bill. I can’t tell you all the things she did that made my life easier – good, practical, no-nonsense things. She just removed things from my plate. It was such a gift.
It’s funny how that damned dog doesn’t bother me so much anymore. I’m not kidding.
They had another dog when we first moved here. She died a few years later. She was the sweetest, friendliest dog you could imagine, and her name was Bella.