Not such a beautiful day in our neighborhood
OK, I couldn’t make this stuff up. We live in this neatly polished Scottsdale community. What bothers me most about it, is the neatness and the polish. It’s just not who we are. But you’ve heard all the reasons why we make the compromises we make; “it’s a beautiful, safe, gated community where the kids can ride their bikes and play across the street at the neighbors.” Only problem is that our kids don’t ride bicycles and in the decade we’ve been here, we haven’t met a single neighbor — until now.
About three months ago we got this email from one of our thoughtful, considerate neighbors: (Please note that the names have been changed to protect me from further litigation – already had to learn that lesson the hard way — and also name changing entitles the writer to make a far more interesting and evocative name selection with much greater potential to rile and enrage readers.)
I reside directly behind your house. Over the past few weeks, both my wife and I have heard your two dogs barking several times.
Today at 3:15p.m., I walked back in the common area to ascertain if the dogs were barking due to a snake or wild animal. I saw none. I also rang your doorbell, but no one was home.
Please see that the barking is remedied.
I wrote back:
We are very sorry about the dogs. They are puppies who get very excited when they hear things they cannot see. We are trying out several anti-barking devices and have recently hired a new trainer to help us curb their barking. We have been very successful controlling the barking at night and while we are home. But apparently there is still a problem when we are out.
We apologize for the disturbance and will do our best to rectify the situation.
But of course the story doesn’t end here. We’ve gotten a slew of emails over the past few months and the gloves have definitely come off. Adolf’s apparently formed a posse of noise Nazis who patrol the neighborhood and report back to the HOA every time a dog barks, a child cries, or a husband and wife have too volatile an argument.
Here’s the latest email from one of Adolf’s comrades (I’ve left in all the punctuation and spelling errors for your amusement):
Your dogs are out of control and the barking all afternoon today was terrible
I understand that other neighbours have complained and that they all have a program of documentation. I don’t really want to document and call the scottsdale police but i must tell you that noise reached a brutal level today.and we may not have a choice
We have been here for awhile and have heard the dogs bark and bark
without any adult intervention. It is not right nor fair in such a nice
earea asthis. I am asking you as nice as i possibly can to control the dogs and their barking. I heard from another neighbour that they are young but that was
like months ago and as soon as they go outside they bark and bark. My wife wants to record the barking for the police however i told her that if you know how bad it really is and how upset all the neighbours around you are getting you
will take some action. Unfortunately some dogs are meant for farm areas
where they can roam and bark unlike this little
community and the houses so close.Please keep them inside and stop the barking .
We promptly responded:
Thank you for alerting us to this situation. Except for rare occasions, when we are not home, they do not bark at all. So we could not have known it was still an issue. We have installed a dog run away from the rear of the property. We have installed an anti-barking device. And we have methodically trained them using proven behavioral techniques.
We also agree that noise pollution needs to be controlled. There are at least two other dogs that we hear with loud barking which need to be restrained. When we are outside, we often hear other dogs in the neighborhood. We are wondering how you know that only our dogs are barking? More importantly, we find the incredibly loud voices of he Goldberg’s in their backyard very difficult to handle. The regular conversations are loud enough, but when the laughter gets going it is very disturbing. I believe the positioning of the houses causes an echo chamber effect that magnifies sound amplification. There have been times when we could not even sit out side because they were so loud that we couldn’t hear each other speaking.And frankly, their humor tends to be rather blue which when broadcast across the wash creates a very uncomfortable situation for our children. Maybe you can e-mail them and remind them to either whisper or not speak at all when in their back yard.
Once again, thank you for the notice of our dogs. We will continue to work on subduing their barking.
This came next:
I have been patient. But it has been nearly three months since we last communicated. You may not be aware, but both my wife and I work from home.The amount of distraction from the noise generated by your dogs and your children at certain times of day is affecting our ability to engage in our work and personal activities both inside and out.
I respectfully request that the barking issue be addressed before we are forced to take legal action. We simply want to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this lovely community.
Let me start by reminding you that this is in fact a “residential” community. If you are having trouble working, maybe you should consider getting a real office somewhere where children and puppies are not allowed. You seem like the type of person who would be very comfortable in a fluorescently lit office cubicle for 8 hours a day. Or better yet, you could take your friend Heinrich’s advice and go live on a farm far away from other people altogether.
We must admit that we hear barking and frolicking children too when we are outside. But that is in fact part of living in a neighborhood. As for my children, they are in school everyday from 8 to 4 and then have various after-school activities. We assure you that the screaming you hear is not from our house. In fact, we know where the screaming originates. But unlike the tactics used in Deutschland in the 40s, we refuse to turn in our neighbors and join this noise pollution witch hunt that you and your colleagues have embarked upon.
“Dear Mrs. Gettleman,
I have tried to be kind and patient. But your tone of hostility is undeniable.You leave us no choice but to pursue legal and civic action against your children and animals.
Bring it on! There isn’t a court in this country that will punish us for having happy kids and dogs who make noise once in a while. I highly suggest you get some
proof that it is in fact our dogs and our children disturbing your curmudgeonly cosmos.
With all love and sincerety,
The funniest part of this whole story is that we’ve been seriously thinking about moving. We were trying to decide if we should move or just do some massive renovations on our home. The more irked I get, the more I’m leaning towards months and months of loud, dusty digging, jackhammers, and construction. I sound mean and vengeful. I know that’s what you’re gonna say in your comments. But come on, it’s one thing to lock people in a gated community and take away their personal mailboxes. But to regulate their kid’s enjoyment or charge them with disturbing the peace because their dogs bark when a coyote passes by. You have to admit, this is excessive.