Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Nuisance Drummers

My next door neighbors' dogs bark at me when I work with my horses or walk my dogs outside to do their business, but the neighbors always get control of them, recognizing that I have the right to be in my backyard without being hassled by their dogs.  I find that rather refreshing since I used to get barked at every time I went to my mailbox at my old house, and the dog owners never did anything about it.  They'd just look at me like they were annoyed that I was causing their dogs to bark by picking up my mail on my own property.  In fact, their neighbor used to yell at their dogs to shut up, and he eventually built a block wall, where there was previously just a chain-link fence, between his yard and theirs so that he could enjoy his backyard in peace.

It does make me feel somewhat uncomfortable that my current neighbors do run out of their house to call their dogs in every time I go outside.  I've been known to go outside dozens of times a day to do chores, train horses, walk dogs, and whatnot, so I wish my presence didn't have to cause such a commotion.  Their older dogs are used to me, but they recently bought a couple of Rottie pups that are now getting big enough to be watchdogs, and apparently they are asserting their skills on me.  I have to just keep reminding myself that I have the right to take care of business in my barn and arena, and if I inconvenience my neighbors by making their dogs bark at a bad time, it's really not my problem.  It's one thing if someone or something is trespassing on their property and their dogs bark.  It's another thing if their neighbors are tending to their own business in their own yards and that causes the dogs to bark.  I have always wished that there were a foolproof way to train dogs to understand property lines.

When I volunteered at the animal shelter, I know they had rules as to what constitutes "nuisance barking", and I thought those laws were quite lenient for dog owners.  It was something like the dog has to be barking continuously for 3 hour periods, at least 5 days in a row over a span of 2 weeks, and the dog owners have to make no effort to stop it.  Otherwise, the animal control officers won't honor complaints.  It's understandable, because if anything less were considered to be nuisance barking, then the people who lived around the animal shelter would have legitimate complaints for the animal control officers to fine themselves for breaking the law.  Those dog kennels can get quite loud and raucous anytime someone enters them.   I think the lawmakers were also trying to respect the fact that some dog owners go on vacation and have someone else care for their dogs while they are away, and some dogs bark because of separation anxiety.  

Last night I was hearing a commotion of barking, which put me on alert.  I went outside to check on my horses, and they all were huddled together in the dark holding perfectly still while one dog to the north barked and another dog to the south answered.  I got the sense that something was between the two dogs and close to my property, if not on it.

We get coyotes passing through and whooping it up on a regular basis, so the dogs are used to them.  Whatever was disturbing the dogs seemed to be new to the neighborhood, because this was a different quality of barking.  I stood outside in the dark a while waiting to see movement, and noticed that another horse owner had come out with a flashlight to check on her horses.  

Because of the rattlesnakes, I don't spend a lot of time walking outside in the dark, but the night sky was amazing.  I kept seeing UFOs that eventually turned into identifiable aircraft if I watched them long enough to see them change angles.  At one point a spotlight suddenly turned on from the sky and startled me.  I figured out that it was a search helicopter and had probably just risen up from behind the mountains, but it was so quiet.  Hearing no engine gave it an eerie quality.  Seeing all the activity in the sky at night made me realize just how close we live to a big city, despite being surrounded by desert.

I never found out what the commotion was about, but got woken around 4:00 AM by my horses banging an empty metal water trough around.  I'm a heavy sleeper, so it takes a lot to wake me up.  I went outside and told them to be quiet, and they did shut up.  I climbed back into bed only to have the rhythmic banging start up again.  I knew that if the noise woke me and was driving me crazy, it had to be bothering the neighbors.  So, I marched outside in the dark, praying that I wouldn't step on a snake.  

I turned on the hose and sprayed the horses to get them away from the empty trough, which I can do since it's in the mid-70's at night.  They have 5 water troughs, so if one gets low, it's no big deal... unless the horses decide to turn it upside down and use it as a kettle drum at 4:00 in the morning for their entertainment.  

I knew the only way I would get any sleep was to fill the trough with water so that they couldn't move it.  They are only interested in kicking empty troughs.  They like the hollow noise.  So, there I was cleaning and filling the trough in the dark.  I pulled up a chair and sat in the barn and realized that all my neighbors had their lights on.  Sure enough, my horses had woken them and I probably didn't help by being out there opening and closing gates.  The rusted metal of the barn sounds like a ship moaning when I move the gates.

Slowly, one-by-one the neighbors' lights began turning off as people realized that I was handling the problem.  I found a second metal trough that was also empty and knew I would have to clean and fill that one as well or the horses would just start in on that as soon as I left.  I was out there such a long time that my husband came looking for me.  I'm sure he thought I had been incapacitated by a rattlesnake bite or something.

In truth, I was kind of enjoying the cooler temperatures, gentle wind, and silence.  Next thing I knew, the sun was rising and the neighbors were getting ready for work.  The activity got the dogs next door riled up.  So much for catching up on my sleep.  'Tis the season for overturned water troughs, so I'll have to stay on top of that or someone might report me for owning "nuisance drummers."


Strawberry Lane said...

Well, so much for peace and quiet, not to mention sleep. Good luck with the dogs. Hope they turn out to be watch dogs for ... you!

Camryn said...

Don't worry about your neighbors bringing the dogs in each and every time you're out and about. I call my dogs in for the same reasons. I don't get irratated at my neighbors, I just can't stand barking dogs even when there are my own!

Sam said...

Have you tried inviting the dogs over? Make a fuss over them so that they realize you are friendly, the property is also "theirs" and they have nothing to worry about? It is hit and miss, but it has worked for us in the past.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam - I actually have asked the neighbors to bring the dogs over here, but they said it would be too hard to control them. They aren't leash trained. So, I've been over there and spent some time with the dogs.

achieve1dream said...

LOL nuisance drummers hehe. I guess filling troughs before dark will have to become part of the routine lol.