One afternoon a few weeks ago, before we started moving our stuff over, I was at the new house cleaning, and I met the first of our new neighbors. It was a guy named Joe, and he seems really nice. He owns the house next door, which he inherited from his aunt who passed away a little while back. I said hello while he was out sweeping the porch (he's been trying to sell the house) and we struck up a conversation and immediately hit it off. I was disappointed when I found out he doesn't live there, because that would be at least one good neighbor!
Then on the day the movers were bringing our furniture in, I heard a cheery female voice call out "Yoo Hoo!" from the foyer. It was the lady who lives on the other side of us, come to introduce herself. She's a pleasant widow who's lived in her house decades now. She said we were going to love the neighborhood, that it's quiet and safe. Her (many) children grew up in her house and all of them live locally and visit regularly, and so do her grown up grandchildren. A thoroughly pleasant and decent lady--by this time I was thinking that we had hit the jackpot on good new neighbors.
I was wrong.
There's a creepy old man that lives behind us (our backyards are separated by a fence) who has come to our door three times in three weeks to complain about our dogs barking and disturbing him and his wife....during their 1pm to 3pm afternoon naps. He keeps insisting that we need to put the dogs inside for those two hours every day and refuses to hear us when we try to tell him that we work doing the day and can't be at home to accommodate him. It's really weird.
The first time he showed up at our door was two days after we'd moved in. I was in the shower mid afternoon and someone started ringing the doorbell, over and over. Of course I wasn't in a position to answer it at the time and by the time I got out he was gone. About 15 minutes later the doorbell rang again, and when I finally made it to the door I found a small old man with a big bouffant of white hair taping a letter to the front door. It said (and he said, too) "We've lived here 50 years. Your dogs' barking disturb my wife's naps, and she's been ill. We nap between 1 and 3 in the afternoon and we'd appreciate you putting your dogs inside. We're Christian people." Of course I was horrified that my dogs were disturbing a sick old woman, and I told the guy I'd be happy to do whatever I could to accommodate him on the weekends, but we work during the week and our dogs don't stay inside when we're not here. They have the porch and backyard during the day, and then they spend every night in the house, so I know they're not disturbing anyone at night. What they do during the day is something we have limited control of.
Well, it was like talking to a brick wall. He kept repeating that he wanted us to put the dogs inside and that they'd lived here "for over 50 years" and "we're good Christian people". It was strange. Gregg and I talked about it, and I even considered baking the guy and his wife a plate of cookies and including an apology note....because, again, as weird as he acted (only two days after we moved in, remember) the last thing I want to do is disturb our neighbors. We want to fit in to the new neighborhood and be on friendly terms with everyone. We were really bothered by the whole thing.
Then two days ago the man showed up at our door again. This time it was Gregg who was home alone. The guy got really weird this time, repeating over and over a demand for us to put the dogs inside from 1pm 3pm every afternoon. He wouldn't acknowledge anything Gregg tried to say in response, and even got vaguely threatening..."I don't like to cause trouble for people" "I'm a Christian man and I hate to start trouble, but....." and similar things repeated multiple times. He also asked where we had lived before, and when he got a vague answer, he actually had the nerve to ask
where exactly we had lived! I'm proud of Gregg for holding his temper and his tongue. He was furious by this time and had to struggle not to go off in a way that old man wouldn't have soon forgotten. He says he doesn't know if the guy is suffering from mild dementia, or is just a nasty old crank, but he's got one more time to show up on our door and we'll be putting a stop to his harassment.
I talked to the sheriff's deputy assigned to the school were I work and asked for advice. I'm slightly scared of the crazy old man--not that I think he'll do anything to us, but what if he's nuts enough to do something to our dogs? The deputy told me that 1. Our dogs are perfectly free to bark nonstop during the day. If it were happening all night, every night, then that could be a noise complaint, but they're not even outside at night. 2. The next time Mr. Crazy shows up at our door, tell him "We're not going to resolve this. You're going to have to accept that. Now get off our property, and don't come back. You are not welcome here." and shut the door in his face. If he comes back after that we can file a report on him for trespassing, and he'll get a friendly little visit from local law enforcement. 3. If something happens to our dogs, the legal consequences will be severe. I have a copy of a letter the guy wrote us (dated) and I have the deputy's word that he advised me about this situation on x date.
I'm sure it's not going to come to all that, but this whole episode has been terribly unpleasant. Our poor dogs have had a hard enough time adjusting to a new house and yard and neighborhood, and now the neighbor behind us is a loony old geezer who hates them.
I'll keep you guys posted on the progress of our new neighborhood feud. Sigh.
Oh, and there won't be any Christmas cookies or cards going to that house!