Sunday, January 15, 2012

Batman and the Warning

Despite their tiny, goofy exteriors, dachshunds are fierce dogs. They think they are ten times bigger than they are. They protect their house, their yard and their people without fear. They bark when they feel they need to. Car drives by, bark at it. Garbage man, bark. Mailman, bark. Little kids on bikes, bark. Doorbell, nuclear barking. After their initial puppy year, it got better and better.

So when Batman's mom complained to the local animal control about the noise, we received our first "LEGAL WARNING" that we needed to do something about the barking. Since we had never actually made friends with them, and heaven knows we tried, we went to the animal control office and asked them for advice. We linked off a little fenced area in our garage with their kennel, added an "As Seen on T.V." dog barker device that they hate, a radio that plays constantly (they like the Spanish channel), blankets, tons of toys, water, food and a papered "potty" area a few feet away. We did everything they told us to do. While I was at work, I spent the days terrified that the neighbors were going to poison my only children.

But for the next two years, everything went well. The radio cut the barking entirely and they seemed to love their little spa in the garage. Two weeks ago they started building the next set of townhomes to the left of us. We thought the property would remain empty since the economy was so bad, but suddenly cement was poured and they started framing 6 six new homes. New sounds. So many new sounds.

Warning number two came two years after the first. It enrages the imperfect me. We live twenty feet from the building site - nail guns, the saws, and the trucks entering and exiting all day long. Lily has anxiety. She thinks aliens have landed and Gus just barks because she is barking. Peer pressure at its finest. Despite the fact that our neighbors can also see the new building going up, they issued us another warning from Animal Services.

Andy wrote Batman's mom a nice note explaining that we were doing everything we could and when the framing was done, the dogs would calm down. I sent the note with another loaf of banana bread. That night, Batman's mom left a retaliatory note taped to our front door, on children's construction paper, in her child like handwriting with a black crayon, that they had put up with our dogs for two years and how dare we not take responsibility for the noise. Too many exclamation points, a sad smiley face. Threats to have the dogs taken away...

Then two days later the opportunity came to let her know how I feel about her noise. I was awakened at around midnight, by her spa tub starting up full blast at my head through the wall. I wanted to cry. Townhomes! But then Batman started whining about something and soon enough, she was yelling back only this time, it was so loud, Andy was also fully awake now and listening wide-eyed. We had heard it before but never this clear. For two years we had listened to her discipline her son in in decibels uncomfortable to us, but never thought it was our business. Until now. "Why do you have to be the stupidest kid on earth," she screamed. "I don't care if you sit there all night!" And on and on and on. Eventually we heard a physical struggle between the two and then silence. I had worked myself up into a lather by that point, imagining the worst. I had an identical tub and it was not small. That was the night I made a call and protected a child I have called "Batman" for four years now. And Child Protective Services was more than happy to keep my name anonymous and say that they were "acting on a hunch." After I saw their car pull up and heard them enter the house, I went back to sleep.

We haven't had a complaint about the dogs since the houses next store were finished. I have noticed the abusive tantrums from Batman and his mom have also gone away. I hope they haven't just moved it to another part of the house.