Project Kindness (Day 35)

With a knick knack paddy whack.

Our neighbors have a dog who spends the majority of her waking time about ten yards from where I rest my head. This dog also spends the majority of her waking time barking. It is slowly killing me. And I’m faring much better than my poor sleep-deprived husband. It’s not like he really needed one more thing to keep him awake at night. I’m an animal lover. I root for the underdog. I can sleep through a sonic boom. But, this dog is wearing me down. If you isolate the dog issue, it’s enough to make anyone want to adopt a hermit lifestyle. Coupled with the long list of “things about our neighbors that we wish were not so,” the dog issue is the proverbial icing on the cake.

I love that we live in a fairly eclectic neighborhood near downtown. I enjoy walking my kids to school. I’m glad that all the houses on my street look nothing alike. I like the energy of people out and about with their strollers, their scooters, and their bikes. I’m pretty easy to get along with. (Now, nod your head and agree with me.) These neighbors, however, rival the Bumpuses from A Christmas Story. As far as we can tell, the hard-to-describe bunch of renters next door is not related. There might as well be a revolving door out front as the same people never seem to stay more than a few months at a time. We’re fairly certain that we live next door to the strangest commune ever. At any given time there are a dozen cars parked on the street, usually blocking our mailbox. They are all proud members of the Wicca religion and have landscaped quite the shrine in the backyard, which my husband says should be featured in Southern Cult Living. I have no problem with their right to worship however they please, but when the full moon happens to fall on a school night, there is no sleep for the weary. And you can forget about sleeping through the drum circles, the chanting, and the epic bonfires that take place on the equinoxes. Forget about it. We have been known to pack up the whole family late at night and check into the Hampton Inn on the summer solstice. There are robes, and candles, and rituals. Did I mention the chanting? One time, my husband looked out our bedroom window blinds to see the patriarch of the “family” getting a tattoo in his kitchen. It was not pretty. I believe it was two summers ago that the law came looking for our neighbor, John. Just when Russell was phoning me to say that the police cars were next door, he saw John running through our back yard where he eventually hid under our deck until the coast was clear. Yeah. The funny thing is John has always been really great to us. He even mowed our yard for us the Summer of all the Surgeries. For someone who drives a vehicle sporting a “My other car is a broom” bumper sticker, he seemed a decent fellow. (He has since left the rotation. Don’t know where he is hiding these days.)

Anyway, the point is, these neighbors cause us to lose a lot of sleep. So when they fashioned a dog run next to the Goddess altar several months ago and populated it with an OCD pooch, I thought I was going to have to call the men in white coats to escort my dear husband to a kinder, gentler place. It barks when I take out my trash. It barks when I mow the lawn. It barks when I check the mail. It barks any time we pile in the minivan. It barks when it breathes. It is particularly annoying for this tired mama when he barks as I try to coax the baby to sleep. As if daylight savings time had not messed up our routine enough! Today, all of the above took place and I was just about at my limit. I’m as big an animal lover as there ever was, but I was having bad thoughts about this dog. Instead of other alternatives, I decided it would be my good deed for the day to kill him with kindness instead. I armed myself with a giant bone, walked the three feet from my back door to her dog pen, and tossed it over. She seemed skeptical. She never took her eyes off me as she crept toward the bribe. She wanted to bark, but she also wanted that bone. Choices, choices. She took the treat and sneaked over to the edge of her dog house. The subsequent silence was straight from the heavens (or the moon, in their case). I rushed back inside to finish folding laundry in peace. I won the battle, but I’ll need to buy a helluva lot of bones to win this war.