Letter to the Editor: Thought We Were Better Than That But Guess I Was Wrong

By Responsible Dog Owner
Los Alamos

For those open minded enough to listen (and I feel there are only a few of you out there these days), here’s a few comments from a very responsible dog owner in Los Alamos:

I’ve lived in Los Alamos for 26 years because it used to offer the best of both worlds; city amenities and country openness complete with wildlife and green space. But, more and more I find that people are becoming mean, narrow focused and totally unwilling to do what it takes to be a good neighbor. This is noticeable on both sides of every issue. The issue that hits close to home for me these days is that of the “barking dogs”.

I live in a noisy neighborhood. My neighbor and his friends work on cars late into the evenings and on the weekend. I am regularly startled out of a sound sleep on Sunday morning or late on Friday night by revving car engines. I have elderly neighbors that wear ear plugs to bed and keep their windows closed because of the loud and obnoxious people and vehicles.

I live near a tennis court/ wooded area and teenagers party there on weekends and summer nights. Why don’t their parents know where they are and what they are doing? They leave their trash and other reminders where I walk my dog.  I have neighbors that regularly have loud fights and are arrested for domestic violence. The traffic on my residential street routinely moves much faster than the posted 25 mph. Why are we only focused on the barking dogs in town?????

I too, have neighbors whose dogs bark for hours without taking a breath and it keeps me awake many nights. But I also have neighbors that annoy me on many other levels. I talk to these neighbors when I can and try to ignore and “live and let live” when I can’t get anywhere with them.

Everyone claims that they are afraid of their neighbors with dogs (retribution, etc.) … well guess what, those of us that are responsible pet owners are just as afraid of you. One person makes a complaint, justified or otherwise, and we are on the hot seat. Because I am a responsible dog owner and good neighbor I work very hard at not allowing my dog to bother my neighbors but I live in fear of one unknown and one known neighbor that call the police anytime my dog barks more than twice in her yard.

The police have been called to my home three times in the last five years. It doesn’t make my dog a problem but that is three times more than I am comfortable with. On one of the calls, the barking dogs were actually on the street behind me, once they were across the street and once it was probably mine (I am hard of hearing and don’t always wake up immediately when the barking starts). The officers have come as early as 9 p.m. (really???) and as late as 4 a.m. I’ve never been cited, not because my dog had stopped barking when they arrived but because on two occasions it wasn’t my dog in the first place! My neighbor didn’t bother to confirm before calling the police.

But the heart pounds when one is awakened at 4 a.m. by flashlights shining into the yard and through windows and one steps out to see men in dark clothing walking around the fence. Yes, officer, my dog will run out and bark at you at 4 a.m. when you start circling the yard in dark clothing and flashlights. Don’t get me wrong, the officers have always been polite and understanding, but they are wasting their time and expertise on such calls (but that is a whole other issue surrounding the County’s unwillingness to fully staff) and I’m being harassed in the middle of the night.

Yes, my dog will bark at the coyotes, stray dogs, mountain lions, raccoons, etc. that are trying to come into their yard. Yes, my dog will even bark at people and animals walking down the street. That is a dog’s job and they should be allowed to do it! No, they should not be allowed to bark all night but then people shouldn’t mow or work on cars at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, teenagers should not be skateboarding/partying/etc. up and down my street at 3 a.m. and neighbors shouldn’t beat their wives or sell drugs at 1 a.m. causing the police to be on the street with flashing lights and sirens … those things keep me awake much longer than a barking dog but don’t get any of the attention. Should I call the police each time I am awakened by an annoying neighbor? Really, are we not better than that?

You all have taken the fun out of living in this beautiful place. I will retire and leave Los Alamos as soon as I can. I am not the only one. What a shame. But you win; I cannot love my dogs, be a good and flexible neighbor and continue with the harassment that comes from a population of people who are obsessed with barking dogs, chickens in backyards and the stables on North Mesa at the expense of so many other problems. Los Alamos has become a very ugly town and I always thought we were better than that but I guess I was wrong.

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.