Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Barker

A few of you guys checked my YouTube videos page and asked why I had a video of a dog barking.

We share a backyard fence with a neighbor who has two dogs. They're both big dogs, and they have big barks. For reasons that have never been explained, one of the dogs (who is basically insane when it comes to barking) stays inside. The other dog spends quite a bit of time in the yard.

The owner has told that at least one of the dogs is "highly trained," but that doesn't apply when it comes to barking, because they're both out of control. Not all the time, because the one dog isn't always in the backyard, but the owner goes through periods where she's leaving him in the backyard 10+ hours at a time.

That's not quite correct, actually. He can get back into the house via a dog door, so he doesn't have to be in the backyard or 10+ hours. So what he does when he goes into the backyard, bascially, is bark.

During the day, it's usually reasonable. He barks, but it's not ridiculous (usually). In a bit of irony that would be quite funny if it wasn't happening to me, the dog barking inside the house is often what makes the dog in the backyard bark. So the neighborhood is dead silent except for two dogs owned by the same person, locked in a canine feedback loop.

The exception to "not ridiculous" is if the dog has access to the backyard after dark. For some reason, this dog freaks out when it's dark and his owner isn't home. When it gets dark, he'll start barking, and there are frequent nights where he barks for an hour or longer.

This is jackhammer barking--20-25 times a minute, and it's loud. Really loud. Our house is about 20 feet from that fence, so it's like having a big dog taped to my ear.


Even worse, a few times a year, the dog is barking after 11 p.m., as late as 1:30 a.m. When that happens, I'm quite pissed off, understandably.

After a few years of trying to negotiate with the owner, and her holding out promise carrots that always decomposed over time, I decided to go nuclear and complain to the homeowner's association. I don't like doing that, because there's no going back, but in the last two weeks we'd had one night of barking from 8-1:30, plus two other nights of where he barked for over ninety minutes non-stop.

The owner has never acknowledged that her dogs (or her) are the problem. I've always been the problem, because I just "don't understand dogs." I do know that big dogs can't be left alone for twelve hours at a time, because they get really, really bored. And I do know that big dogs need lots of attention, which they're not getting.

I realized that unless I wanted to be in a "he said, she said" situation, I needed to make a few videos to make my point. On two consecutive nights last week, it got dark and the dog barked for over an hour, non-stop. So on those nights, I took Eli's Flip video recorder onto the back patio and just started recording (the Flip is awesome). When I made the complaint to the homeowner's assocation, I put the two videos on a USB drive and gave them to someone on the board. It's pretty hard to argue your dog isn't barking when there's video of him barking 750 times (roughly) in half an hour.

I hate being that guy. But I hate being the guy who can't have a conversation at night in the living room worse.

Before I send in the complaint, I decided that I needed to listen to the videos once, just to be sure that I wasn't exaggerating the level of barking. So at one point, I was sitting in my study, behind a soundproof window (soundproof being a misnomer, unfortunately), wearing noise-cancellation headphones, to listen to a video of a dog barking, after installing the window and wearing the headphones just to avoid hearing the barking.

I am recursive panda.

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