(Disclaimer: I know this post is going to seem pretty passive-aggressive, but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.)
When Liz and I go out to eat with Sam, we are super-conscious to not be “that family” with “that kid” in the restaurant. You know the kid I’m talking about- yelling, screaming, crying, throwing, annoying. We bring books, crayons, and toys. We let him play with sugar packets, lemon wedges, silverware. We’ll let him eat anything and any amount- as long as he just stays quiet. Sometimes it feels like bad parenting, but it’s good citizenship. It’s courteous. We’re being considerate. We’re thinking of others. We don’t want our screaming kid to ruin your meal.
I bring this up because at 2:00 this morning, I was standing in my backyard, in the cold, in my underwear yelling at my neighbor’s dogs. They would not shut up. I yelled, I whistled, I barked back at them, I smacked the bottom of my shoe repeatedly with a plastic t-ball bat. They kept barking. They’d take turns barking, and then bark in unison. They’d harmonize, howl, yip- they covered the entire dog vocalization spectrum, paying zero attention to me. After fifteen minutes or so, they finally stopped, and I went back inside, climbed into bed and thought, “Why am I the one yelling at those stupid dogs? They’re not my stupid dogs. My stupid neighbor should be the one getting out of his stupid bed and yelling at those stupid dogs.” (Apparently, I use the word “stupid” a lot in my head when I’m irritated.)
We don’t have dogs. We used to have two, but not anymore. When we did have dogs, we kept them quiet at night. If they pooped in the neighbor’s yard, I’d go pick it up and bring it to my yard. If they got a newspaper, and tore it up, and scattered it all over the neighbor’s yard, I’d go clean it up. Because they were my dogs.
There’s no life lesson here, just an irritated neighbor offering some free advice to anybody who will take it. If you have dogs, keep them quiet. If they bark all night, your neighbors might smile and wave and say, “Hey, Jim. How are your kids doing?” but they’re really thinking, “Make your dogs shut up or I’m going to shoot them.” Be a better neighbor than that. Be a better citizen than that. Be a better person than that.
I’m a dog person. I love dogs, but at two o’clock in the morning I will smack your labradoodle with a house shoe.