Have you ever found yourself carting certain books around, every time you relocate? You take these books out, look them over, consider donating them, pause, then put them back where they were on the shelf.
I have a certain paperback I've been hauling around for probably seven years. Once I even put it on my nightstand, fully prepared to finally read it. And I didn't. It went back on the shelves.
Last night, tired of reruns and longing to escape into a book, I took it down from the shelves again. The pupsters and I covered ourselves with blankets, and while they snoozed, I read.
I became so immersed in this book, the one I had almost given away many times, that an hour later, I was still reading. And the hour after that. After nine p.m., I made myself look at the clock every ten minutes. Because the dogs get their final "go out" for the night at 10 p.m.
I was so caught up in this book that time slipped away. Before I knew it I looked up and it was after 10:30. Oh no! I thought. I got up and rushed the dogs outside and willed them not to utter one bark.
You see, there is a man who lives behind me. And he blames my dogs for every bark he hears.
He went so far, several weeks ago, as to call security and proclaim that my dogs had been barking for hours, and it started at 11:30 p.m.
Security, they told management, came to my door and knocked. It was dark inside, they said, and I did not answer my door.
"Well," I told management. "I am very compulsive by nature. I haven't been out after 5 p.m. in probably ten years. I have showered and put on my pajamas by 6:30. The dogs and I are well asleep by 10:30 most every night. So it could not possibly have been my dogs he heard barking.
"Secondly, if I am home, which I am 95% of the time if not more, I would not have allowed my dogs to bark past the first bark. And I certainly would not have allowed them to bark five minutes, must less for hours.
"Thirdly, security had to have knocked on the wrong door. Because once my dogs hear a knock at the door, they go into a barking frenzy. So they had the wrong apartment."
Then I am twisted into knots of pent up anger because clearly this man has targeted my pupsters for something that could not possibly have happened. And I can't do anything about it. His word against mine.
He has turned them in before. My neighbor Charlie says that once when he was walking Sammy, they passed fairly close to this man on the sidewalk, and the man jumped back as though he feared Sammy. By the way, Sammy is a poodle.
Charlie wanted to go over there and give this man the what-for once I told him this, but I stopped him. It would only make things worse. This man, who apparently lives alone but works during the day, obviously does not like dogs.
It's not as though his wall is close to mine. We have two patios and a private fence in the middle separating us.
As Volare, the Russian maintenance man, said with his customary shrug: "Eh. Dogs. They bark." As if this is a no-brainer.
Even hours after my surgery in November, I stood at the open patio door, one foot on the floor, my right knee on the scooter. And I stood there, woozy from anesthetic, while the dogs were outside, which were mere minutes.
In nice weather we are out there much more while I garden. But still, I do not allow them to bark. For one thing, I myself don't want to hear it. And I certainly do not want them to bother others.
I have never put my dogs out and not manned the patio door, ready to call a halt mid-bark. I have never gone out somewhere and left my dogs on the patio.
Charlie is worse than Abi when it comes to barking. Inside Abi rules the roost. Outside he is the alpha dog. He emits one bark upon going outside, as though to tell the world: I am alpha dog. Hear me roar.
He then hikes his leg at every corner and sniffs and sniffs all around. And keeps his eye out for the squirrel or cat that might possibly run across the top of the fence, which would make his day. Then he sniffs around some more.
The difference between he and Abi, however, is that he minds me. While Abi is indifferent to anything anyone says to her, Charlie will stop mid-bark when I say: "Charlie, no barking."
So ten or more times a day, when the dogs go out, I am on edge. Especially on weekends when this nameless resident is likely at home. I am told he has been here a long time and is no problem. Rarely makes calls to complain.
Which, in management-speak, means he pays his rent on time every month and thus he is highly ranked as a resident and they do not wish to lose him.
Well, I pay my rent each month before it is due. Like clockwork. I don't play loud music. I am quiet. I don't have parties. I take care of my space.
For this reason, I sometimes miss living in a house. I miss having my own little spot where people leave me be. But I don't know that I can ever attain that. Six hundred square feet or less would do the trick for me.
So for now I will man the patio door, no matter how cold or how much snow is flying in the wind, and watch the dogs while they get a little exercise. Always at the ready to bring them right back in should they open their mouths to bark.
A person should not allow their dogs to bark and bother others. I would not want to hear it either. But it does not happen here.
It is his word against mine, however.