Our neighbors are keeping two small dogs in their back yard. They look like they could be puppy dobermans, but I’m really not sure. However, they’re definitely being kept – they’re not strays.
As far as Elise and I can tell they are living exclusively in the yard – to the point that it’s been cleared of various detritus and set up as a dog-proof enclosure that’s protected from access via the alley.
I wouldn’t mind any of that, except:
(A) Our bedroom is at the rear of the house, and I have been having trouble sleeping this month. It only takes a few barks to rouse me.
(B) It has been hovering near the freezing point for several days (it’s currently 29), and the dogs seem to have only a small carrier to retreat to for a respite.
(C) The colder it gets, the more the barking turns into sustained whining/crying.
These are not neighbors we ever speak to – usually they’re just standing around outside smoking blunts when we walk up to the house. At the same time, they’ve never been unfriendly or threatening, and they’ve never once complained about us playing music.
Elise looked into Philadelphia’s policies on animal control, and we’re within our rights to submit a report about the barking if it persists more than 15 minutes on an hour. Also, clearly we can call at any time about the cruelty situation.
I know what normal Peter – mouthy, empowered Peter – would do. I would ask them about the dogs when I come home from work tomorrow, advise them cheerily that the barking is keeping me up and that I’m worried that the dogs are cold at night, and advise them that I could call the SPCA on their behalf of they can’t find a solution.
Except, that Peter doesn’t live here anymore. Not since this summer, when a slight mouthiness resulted in our home being vandalized in a hate crime.
I haven’t talked about it much, here or to anyone else, including Elise. But, for the first time in my life, I’m afraid of being me. I don’t know how to speak up. In fact, I don’t really feel safe anywhere unless I’m surrounded by friends. I’m afraid to sing karaoke or talk to people in bars or on buses or travel to any suburban or rural area because if I am the wrong combination of soft and assertive and they don’t like me they’ll just try to degrade me or something that I hold valuable.
I’m stuck. I’m afraid to talk to the neighbors, even though signs point to their being at least a little friendly. I’m afraid if I call in the dogs the neighbors will assume it’s me, even though it could be any of the five yards adjacent to them.
I’m afraid if I’m me people will hate me.
It was hard enough to sleep for a month after what happened – constantly bolting upright every time I heard a sound anywhere adjacent to the house. I’m already nauseous every time I walk up to my door for fear of what it might contain. And, unrelated to that, I’m already ragged and tired at home and at work, verging on sick.
I don’t need barking dogs to compound the situation.