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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Dog of A Life - A moment on the soapbox

I'm going to take a moment to dust off my soapbox and vent about a situation which is seriously impacting on me! The dog next door.. 

Not Freda...
For the last 12 months I have been under siege in my own home from a brindled mutt called "Freda" (name changed to protect the guilty). Freda belongs to the new neighbours and she spends her day on their rooftop balcony, where she has panoramic view of the neighbourhood. She stands on their outside table and barks at anything or anyone or nothing at all, because she is young and she is bored and her owners are out of the house from early in the morning until late in the evening.

We live in an inner city suburb where yards are small and houses are close together and my office faces directly on to the balcony where Freda reigns as self proclaimed Queen of the street. We get barked at as soon as we show a nose outside and collecting the mail or going to the car or gardening are under constant scrutiny from madam.

There is no doubt that the persistent barking is seriously affecting my writing. Noise reducing headphones and  music are OK up to a point but I really don't like things on or in or over my ears for any length of time. I have decamped downstairs with my notebook computer but I can still hear dear Freda and that option really only works when I am home alone. It is hardly fair on my husband to have to tiptoe around me. 

I won't go into the attempts we have made to deal with the problem. Let's just say addressing the issue directly with the neighbours has made no difference  If it was me, I would be mortified if a neighbour approached me to tell me my animal was a nuisance and do everything in my power to remedy the situation...particularly when the only thing being asked is to prevent Freda from having access to the balcony.

Don't get me wrong, I love animals and although I am primarily a cat person, I have had some lovely dogs in my life and do not grudge for a moment anyone's rights to own a dog.  However there is such a thing as responsible ownership and if you work full time and own 2 large dogs surely there is some obligation on you to ensure they are exercised and entertained and not left to become a neighbourhood nuisance? All dogs bark but there are plenty of other dogs living around us who make for perfectly acceptable doggy neighbours!

Is it me or is there a movement among certain (not all!) dog owners to think in some way their dogs are "special" and exempt from council by laws, such as nuisance laws or being kept on leashes near playgrounds or have their droppings picked up?  The leash off exemption for "special dogs" is particularly prevalent along our most popular walking paths by the sea. As a runner (cough!) I have been tripped by loose dogs who should have been on leashes and if you dare point out to a "special dog" owner that their dog should be on a leash, you get a stream of abuse for your efforts.

There is no doubt that the stress of living next door to Freda is affecting not only my quality of life, amenity of my home etc but also my writing. I think I will have to consider working away from home, from my beloved office (and my favourite desk) unless the situation changes. Watch this space.


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