Dear Neighbor: I am your worst nightmare

By Kelly Kreth  |
September 24, 2010 - 7:22AM

I am a low-key neighbor who believes in the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ motto of NYC-apartment living. I don’t particularly want to get involved in my neighbors’ lives and prefer they stay out of mine. Yet, I can also be a very good neighbor. I’ve climbed tall ladders to change lightbulbs not related to my light fixtures, loaned out my tv so a neighbor could watch American Idol, and let another stay in my apartment when she got locked out, giving her my key and trusting her to lock up when she was done.

But even I wouldn’t move next door to me.  Or rather, next to me and Mini me, my six-year-old, 16-lb dachshund.

Mini (pictured) is a very good dog who does very bad things.

Whereas I am typically pensive and non-confrontational, Mini is the rambunctious type who won’t take no for an answer and who is possibly in need of some doggie anger management classes. About once or twice a week he gets into barking jags—over anything from a clanking radiator to a step on the stairs--that can only be described as a child having a tantrum. When he is like this no amount of treats, cajoling or screaming can console him.

You do not want to live next to us. And neither do our neighbors. After the first few complaints, I considered and rejected my vet's advice to put an electric collar on Mini as she had done with her own dachshund.  I run off at the mouth a lot too, and would not want someone zapping me when I’ve done so.

Instead, I started muzzling Mini for a few minutes if he got into a barking frenzy after 11pm. That seemed to work for the most part and after a few weeks, just seeing the muzzle was usually enough to quell the barking.

Still, when I am out, the neighbors evidently suffer. My management company is very understanding and simply tells them, “It’s a pet-friendly building and the occasional bark is to be expected.”

And if it’s any consolation to my neighbors, I deeply regret Mini’s racket-causing ways. Especially at the witching hour, and not just because it disturbs my own sleep.

So as a small gift back to the universe of people who don’t want to live next to a Mini, let me offer these suggestions for coping and/or avoiding.

  • “Pet friendly” apartments are usually snatched up by people who have them, so if you move into a unit of this sort, be prepared to hear meows, barks and the occasional bird caw. 
  • It sounds sort of nutty, but it is a good idea to clomp rather loudly on the stairs and the hallways in front of each apartment when you’re looking at a building. If there is a noise-sensitive dog in the building, chances are it will hear you, sense an unfamiliar smell and bark. If the high-pitch “ruffs” makes you want to claw off your own ears, do not take the apartment no matter how great it is. 
  • If you are already living in the situation, be friendly with the pet’s owner. I am far more likely to muzzle my dog or take steps to assuage the noise problem if you are nice to me and the source of your distress. Saying you want to kick the shit out of my dog? Bark away, Mini. Bark loud and proud.
  • Learn to walk quietly past my door when coming home late at night.
  • Come visit and let the dog meet you. The more familiar an animal is with you, the less likely it will be to bark when you are near. This still won’t alleviate the barking when a delivery man comes or the bell is rung, but it is a start.

One more thing to keep in mind: You may be less alone than you think. Even though the animal is the cause of the problem and its owners willingly chose to cohabitate with it, when the dog is up, so are they. They may very well be sleep-deprived themselves and want to quiet their canine as much as you do.

Thankfully, in the last six months, two new renters have moved into the building bearing even yappier dogs. It feels good to not be the worst neighbor anymore.

Related posts:

High Rise Syndrome: A fall thing

"Perfect for pets" = "No pets allowed"

Petiquette 101: Apartment manners for your dog

How to spy on your dogwalker

How to get your dog past a co-op board

Ask an Expert: Is my board nuts to put a cap on dogs?



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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