Letter to the Editor: Can’t We Just Get Along?

By A Longtime Los Alamos Resident

Wow. All this discussion about dogs has me wondering what to think. I’ve lived in Los Alamos 60 years. Our family has always had and continues to have dogs. We’re not bad people. We don’t want to disturb our neighbors – we want to be neighborly neighbors and we sincerely try to be.

If you need help shoveling snow, changing a tire or getting your car started, a meal or two while you’re convalescing, bringing your mail and newspapers in while you’re out of town, watching your children before the bus arrives because you have to get to work earlier than usual, running an errand, if you need an extra bedroom for out of town guests, etc., we’re happy to help out. 

Why am I writing this? Because I hope to reach some of you who are having a hard time with barking dogs and who are sounding just a little judgmental about the reasons our dogs bark and why we have failed stop them. And to let you know that neither we nor our dogs are bad. And because I’m feeling threatened. Yeah. I guess that’s the bottom line.

I think I’m a very responsible dog owner, neighbor, and a generally nice person. And I don’t want to be afraid every time I leave my house that my dog is going to bark and someone’s going to call the police on me.

Dogs bark and some howl. That’s about the loudest they get. We own dogs for many reasons including companionship. We train them for service and assistance, for search and rescue or recovery, for therapy, for sporting. We care for them and sometimes they’re the only family we have. 

Humans talk, laugh, yell, scream, turn the volume way up, and have parties into the late hours. They rev their cars, squeal the tires, mow the law at early hours, run the chainsaw, order cement, hammer, saw, etc. 

There have been times I’ve been out later than anticipated Christmas shopping in Albuquerque and my dog is outside wondering where I am. Or the raccoon is back in the yard or the skunks or the rabbits or a snake or is being teased by a passerby or there’s a bear getting into the trash can or someone’s breaking in across the street … the list can go on and on. We don’t have cats because I’m severely allergic to them. But they don’t bark. Some owners have outdoor cats. Those leave behind what would normally go in a litter box in our soft dirt or sand. They can kill birds, bring gifts of mice they’ve killed, etc. They’re animals – and they’re following their instincts. 

I do need my neighbors’ help. If my dog is barking excessively, I’d like to know – because I do want to be a good neighbor. I’ll feel horrible that you had to call me, and I’ll try to curb it – but my dog won’t ever be silent. I’ll need your feedback that the changes I’m trying to make are working or not. I need your understanding that I’m trying. Can you live with my dog barking occasionally or do we have to get to the point where dog owners are feeling threatened? 

Please realize no one and no animal is perfect. This can get blown way out of proportion if we let it. Let’s say I’m a vegetarian and the smell of meat cooking nauseates me and you’re grilling outside.  Can I complain to you because you’re cooking dinner and your smoke is intruding on me sitting on my patio? Or you’ve decided to put manure on your lawn and I can’t open my windows or walk to my car without choking? 

I feel really badly for the person who is waiting to retire to get out of town. Can’t we just get along?

Editor’s Note: The Los Alamos Daily Post is publishing unsigned letters related to dog barking to allow the writers to express their thoughts without developing unpleasant issues with their neighbors.