Friday, April 7, 2017

The Happy Curmudgeon: Barking Dogs

Neighbors: 1:7
“Happy is the man…”

“Barking dogs don’t bite, but they themselves don’t know it.”
Sholom Aleichem [1859–1916], 
Dos Sholom Aleichem Buch (1926), p. 350

I reside with my wife and two children in a two-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor of a high-rise building (16 stories tall) in a part of Toronto called North York, in a neighborhood called “Little Moscow.” The name likely reflected the demographics of the 1990s; and although we hear quite a lot of Russian when we take our walks at the nearby park, most of the people residing in the area are from Asia, in particular, the Philippines.

Speaking of nature, one of the reasons that we moved here is that we have a wonderful unobstructed view of the park from all of our windows. I enjoy looking out the window during all of the seasons, but especially in the summer when the park is green and in the fall with the changing colors. I have posted a number of such photos on this blog, including here, here and here.

The building is well-maintained, and our apartment was painted and all the floors redone before we moved in. A complete renovation of the lobby and the hallways was done last year with new tiles, wallpaper and carpets. It also has a large laundry room and an exercise room.  It has sufficient amenities and the staff is responsive to any and all maintenance needs that arise.

All in all, I am happy living here, apart for the desire for more space. The four of us reside in a space of 650 sq. ft.—an extra bedroom would be a mechaye (Yiddish: a real joy). This of course reminds me of the Jewish joke, the well-known one about the family and the goat. So, this aspect of our lives, however much we desire it, cannot be changed for now—goat or no goat.

Speaking of domesticated animals, there is one other lingering problem that should be easy to resolve: a barking dog. Here’s the back story. This building has a large number of residents who have dogs living with them, possibly drawn here by the building’s proximity to the park. Some of the dogs are large, some are small. Most, it seems, are quiet. We have the misfortune, however, of living on the same floor as a neighbor who has a small dog that barks regularly, especially when anyone passes her door.

This can happen at any time of the day. We have made numerous complaints to the management about the barking; they are responsive, letting the dog owner know about the noise complaint. They have even suggested that “if this continues we will give her a notice of eviction.” Two years later, she and her dog remain. I now sense that “the management” says this as means to placate us. It is like a bad comedy.

My wife and I did encounter the dog’s owner a couple of times last year while waiting for the elevator; and my wife did point out to her about the nuisance of her dog’s barking. Her first response was that the dog was nervous and she was taking him to see a therapist and possibly obtain some medication to calm his anxiety. The second time was a few months later, after it seems that the therapy and medication weren’t working sufficiently well, when she said that we were fortunate, since her dog is a Maltese and “they are good at warning in case of robberies.”

This is nice to know, but not a concern that we have ever had; and regardless of the dog’s abilities in this area, and I am sure he meets the highest standards in “dog warning systems,” can this excuse or justify the dog’s behavior? How about the many false alarms? Well, I actually don’t blame the dog, since I suspect that the dog never goes out for a walk, which is what an animal needs. Neither my wife nor I have ever seen this dog outside with the owner, and this is a period of more than two years. This is not proof but certainly is suspicious.

I did call the local humane society a while ago about the barking, and their response was that unless there was some kind of known abuse there was nothing that they could do. So, that’s the end of it, and the comedy continues. I guess that I and my family have to “live” with this inconvenience. This is all part of high-rise living and of living in an urban environment, where noise becomes an expected albeit unwelcome presence of city life. Now, don’t get me started on car alarms or on low-flying airplanes in the middle of the night.

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