I need some help.

Our neighbor (that shares the back fence) had been calling a while back complaining about the dogs barking. She hasn't called since before the holidays so I thought that everything was fine now. Apparently not.

She called me today after lunch to let me know that our dogs disturbed her luncheon this afternoon with their barking and that her friends kept asking why she put up with it and how could she stand to listen to it all the time - which it isn't all the time either. She even tells me that they have their good days and they have their bad days - maybe I need to put a voice activated recorder in the back yard.

I told her that everytime she's called me I've asked my other neighbors (the ones living on either side of us) and that they said they have never had a problem with our dogs; that they don't bother them...but according to her, she and everyone on her side of the fence (and even those across the street from her - two rows away from me) are having problems with our dogs and the dogs belonging to our next door neighbors. I also said when I am home on my Fridays off & on weekends I never hear them bark too much. They bark like most other dogs bark - at least that's how it seems to me. Or maybe I'm just more tolerant of dogs barking b/c I've always had dogs. Some people just cannot tolerate noise on any level.

So...I don't know what to do.

I have a dog run in the back for them and I guess we'll start locking them in there again, though I don't think I should have to do that. The other two options I really wouldn't be happy with either. One is a barking collar and the other is to lock them up in their kennels all day while we're at work. Michael used to keep them in their kennels during the day when he lived in the apartment - I guess they would be used to that, but what if they get sick or something...and I wouldn't want to "hold it" all day long so I am sure, even if they can, that can't be good for them either. What happens if we can't go straight home after work? Then how long would they be in there? The barking collar would work, but they can be pricey, too and I always wonder how bad it really hurts them. And to be honest, I WANT the dogs to bark if someone is near or in our backyard. I like that they are aware when someone is around and let me know. I don't want to use a barking collar b/c then they might not bark when they should bark - like when I'm home alone & Michael is away at the deer lease and someone is trying to break into our back door or something!!!!!!

She also told me today that her neighbor's mother, who is terminally ill with cancer, has a hard time w/ the dogs b/c they bark and keep her up and that she was calling partially on their behalf as well b/c it wasn't fair to me not to know and to think that everything was A-OK when it really wasn't b/c I was a nice person and that I was willing to work with them, but maybe just didn't know what to do (whew - that's a long sentence)!! BUT...she did say they weren't barking at that moment - while we were on the phone.

She said she doesn't want to involve the HomeOwners Association, which honestly I don't know what they can do about it. I'm not breaking any rules by having dogs that bark. They aren't violating a noise ordinance b/c they don't bark after 11:00 (they are quiet at night) and they haven't attacked any one so they aren't a danger.

So...what do I do? Any suggestions? .

Oh...and one more thing. My next door neighbor is home on maternity leave & I just called her to see if she heard my dogs barking today. She said no, not at all. That earlier this morning she had let her little dog out & that he got them riled up, but that after she brought him back in she never heard anything else. She said maybe a bark every now and then, but nothing that would be disturbing to her or her new born baby. She said, "Hanna, I have a new born, believe me if your dogs were keeping us up I would let you know," b/c they nap during the day - obviously!

When I hung up with her I called this lady back to verify exactly when her luncheon was, but I got her answering machine unfortunately.

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