Today’s post is by Renee in North Dakota
The Saturday after New Year’s Day, our churlish next door neighbor stormed over to our house and told my husband that we had to keep our dog quiet. Did we know how many times she had barked that day? Husband just said “Ok”. and shut the door. We were pretty puzzled about this, since she really hadn’t barked at all that day.
Our dog is 14 years old. She is a terrier. Terriers bark. We have tried our hardest to minimize her vocalizations over the years. We don’t let her out in the yard unsupervised, and she does her business on the deck in the back. Our neighbor has complained about her for years, and it seems that nothing we do is good enough.
There are plenty of other dogs in the neighborhood that we hear barking, but he seems to be obsessed with our little Maggie. He spends a lot of time in his family room, the closest room in his house to our deck, which is the only place she barks. He has even installed white noise machines. There was a dog in the garage of the house on the other side of neighbor’s house that barked continuously for 5 hours the day he came over to complain. We think that he assumed the noise was coming from our dog.
Now, to put Maggie’s barking into perspective, her barking never lasts more than 10 seconds at any one time before we bring her in, and she doesn’t bark in the house. After this last visit from neighbor, we started collecting data on the times she went out, whether she barked, and the duration of her utterances, if any. We stand by the patio door until she is finished with her business so that we can leap out and quell any barking that might occur. Her barking, which wasn’t much to begin with, has been reduced even further. Now we have actual data to use in the event neighbor complains to the police. The longest string of barks she has produced outside since we started data collection is 5 woofs long and lasted less than 5 seconds. She barks less than 3 percent of the times she goes outside. Ooh, I love being a behavioral scientist!
Our dog is getting frail and I think this is her last winter. I have a secret plan for when she passes that would be satisfying to implement, particularly if she dies before next Christmas. I plan to tell the neighbor that she has died. I want to lull him into a false sense of relief, and then I want to start broadcasting from our deck this musical selection that husband found on the internet.
One of my friends tells me that someone has to be the bigger person here. I suppose she is right. There is an entire album of Barking Dogs’ Christmas music, though! It is pretty tempting to do, especially since neighbor hasn’t thanked us for the nearly silent neighborhood in which he now lives. Of course, he never thanks us for anything. Sigh.
When have you used data to win an argument?