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The Neighbor's Dogs

by John Sheirer

John lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, with his wonderful wife Betsy and happy dog Libby. He has taught writing and communications for 26 years at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut, where he also serves as editor and faculty advisor for Freshwater Literary Journal (submissions welcome). He writes a monthly column on current events for his hometown newspaper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and his books include memoir, fiction, poetry, essays, political satire, and photography. Find him at JohnSheirer.com

What to do When the Neighbors' Dogs Won't Stop Barking for the Thirty-Seventh Night in a Row:

 1) Call the "will do odd jobs" guy whose number you found on the bulletin board at the supermarket. Offer him twenty bucks. He'll know what to do.

2) Turn up the Republican National Convention really loud on the television. (This strategy won't shut up the dogs, but it will give you a new appreciation for their barking as a comparative source of intelligence in the world.)

3) Picture yourself at a peaceful beach being caressed by tranquil breezes and bathed in healing sunshine. Now picture the dogs at that same beach being chased by angry alligators.

4) Get one of those bulky suits worn by the people who train attack dogs. Smear the suit with bacon grease, put it on, and then let the dogs chew on you until they are too exhausted to bark anymore.

5) March right up to those dogs and tell them in a stern voice, "Cut it out you guys, and I mean right now."

6) Invent a soundproof fence. Install it in the appropriate location.

7) Capture your other neighbor's cat and feed it to the dogs. (This is not actually recommended, but it crosses one's mind every now and then.)

8) Go on the Internet and see if you can find one of those dog whistles everybody seemed to have when you were a kid. What the heck—anything's worth a shot.

9) Place a personal ad in the "singles" section of the newspaper. Play up the point that you are looking for someone who really, really likes dogs. (This is not recommended if you are married or in a serious, committed relationship.)

10) Tie an anonymous note to a brick and toss it through your neighbor's window. The note should say that you "know what they're up to" and "it had better stop really soon, or there might be more bricks." (Don't mention the dogs because that would give you away.)

11) Get some sleeping pills and some water. Bring the water to a vigorous boil. Add three or four pills. Add a bouillon cube (beef or chicken—your choice). Reduce heat to medium. Cover and let simmer for half an hour. Serve at room temperature in a doggie dish.

12) Call the neighbors pretending to be the police. Tell them there's been a rash of backyard dog abductions. Advise them to keep their dogs inside for at least a year.

13) When the dogs finally stop barking and fall asleep around 4:30 a.m., tiptoe up to them and yell, "It's about freaking time!"

14) Go to the pet store and purchase a large bucket of "Bark-Be-Gone." Apply liberally.

15) Ignore them. They'll stop ... yeah, just like that bully in junior high.

16) Eat lots of vegetables, exercise, take your vitamins, and outlive the hairy beasts by sixty years.

17) They say that living well is the best revenge, so buy a ten-year-old Chevy, drink wine that has a screw cap instead of a cork, and take a vacation to Dollywood.

18) Enroll in that community college continuing education course about dog mind control that you've always wanted to take but couldn't quite fit into your schedule.

19) Walk by the windows naked every few minutes. That should confuse them into silence.

20) Go to the library and check out a book about dog behavior. Make sure it's a really big book. Throw it at them. Throw it hard.

21) Radio their coordinates to central command.

22) Read the dogs that notebook full of love poems you wrote in tenth grade.

23) Throw the dogs a surprise birthday party. Get a poodle in a bikini to jump out of a cake.

24) Become friends with the neighborhood kid who's really good with his slingshot. Invite him over for target practice.

25) Take up the tuba. Practice late at night in the part of your yard closest to your neighbors' bedroom window.

26) Move. Now.

27) When your neighbor comes out on the porch at midnight and says, "Will my sweet puppies please stop their barkie-warkies? Who're my good boys? Yes, you are, yes, you're my good boys, yes, you are, oh, my pookie-wookie puppies!" videotape the whole thing. Make sure your lawyer gets the tape into evidence at your trial. No jury would convict you.

28) Take comfort in the fact that only cats have nine lives.

29) Enter your neighbors in one of those "win-a-year-long-vacation-to-Madagascar" contests at the local mall. Make sure it's the one that allows the winners to bring pets.

30) Join a support group. Confront your feelings. Get in touch with your inner child. Make peace with your demons. Don't be afraid to cry.

31) Contact that horse whisperer guy. Ask him if he does dogs.

32) Begin a novel with the line, "It was a dark and stormy night, and my neighbors' dogs were barking again." Begin looking for a literary agent to handle this can't-miss bestseller.

33) Write a complaint letter to former President Bush. If anyone can help with such a difficult diplomatic situation, it's "W."

34) Mark your territory. You know what this means, and so will the dogs.

35) Help the dogs open a dot.com business. That should make them disappear pretty quickly.

36) Knit each dog a really nice sweater--maybe some booties and scarves as well. They've probably just been trying to tell you that they're a little chilly.

37) Just bark right back at the smelly bastards and see how they like it.


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