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Dear Emuna: I Can’t Stand My Neighbor’s Loud Dog
Dear Emuna

Dear Emuna: I Can’t Stand My Neighbor’s Loud Dog

Plus practical advice to a daughter whose aging father has moved nearby and is suddenly very dependent on her.

by

Dear Emuna,

My neighbors have a very loud dog. It barks every time someone approaches their door and takes a long time to calm down. I work out of my home so I find it quite irritating. In fact I find myself getting more and more frustrated with the situation daily. What should I do? I can't even think of any options.

(Not such an) Animal Lover

Dear Ambivalent about Animals,

Most cities have by-laws about noise, usually not before 7 in the morning and not after 10 or thereabouts at night. If the dog is not in violation of those rules, I think your options are limited, at least those involving the behavior of the dog!

Your own behavior, on the other hand, is of course the only behavior you can control. Begin by reminding yourself that one of the definitions of a good person, as described in Ethics of Our Fathers, is a good neighbor. Neighbors can get involved in disputes all the time to the point of acrimonious legal actions - over boundaries, over noise, over zoning violations and so on. It's easy to fight; what's more challenging is to be good-natured despite the provocation.

Our neighbors have a very noisy air conditioner. If we try to leave our windows open and enjoy the fresh air, we are frequently forced to close them due to the noise outside. It can be annoying and frustrating. But we have learned to accept it and work around it because there is no choice. They are perfectly within their rights to run their air conditioner and it would be an absurd request to ask them not to. Recognizing and accepting that they have rights too and that it's not all about you may be a helpful first step in dealing with the situation. If you continue to imagine you can do something about the dog, you will continue to feel frustrated.

If you accept that the dog (and its bark) are here to stay, perhaps you can move forward - maybe with the help of ear plugs. You can take pleasure in working on your patience and on being a good neighbor. And I bet the dog is a good deterrent of criminal behavior on your street, so focus on the positives instead of the negatives. I'm guessing your neighbor's dog is here to stay and you will be much better off once you come to terms with that instead or railing against it.

My Father is Driving Me Crazy

Dear Emuna,

My father recently moved to an apartment right around the corner from us. I love my father dearly and enjoy spending time with him but he's gone from being independent to being very dependent overnight. Now that we are neighbors, he constantly expects me to do his grocery shopping, take his clothes to the dry cleaners and to be the focal point of his social life. I'm starting to go a little crazy and my husband and kids are starting to feel resentful. Any tips?

Loving but frustrated Daughter

Dear Good Daughter,

We are fortunate to live in the era of Amazon and Uber and all sorts of other online and easy-access services. There is no reason for you to be dropping off dry cleaning when I'm sure you could find a local dry cleaner that does drop off and pick up. There's no reason to do his grocery shopping with Amazon fresh and googleexpress and all the other delivery services that exist. Uber can drive him to doctor appointments (unless he needs another set of ears) and can even pick up and deliver take-out food. Pretty much the only thing you can't hire out is the social relationship and the love.

How should you handle that? The most important idea you need to come to terms with is that your family comes first. Your primary responsibility is to your husband and children. They shouldn't suffer because of your relationship with your father - but I'm unclear why they need to. Couldn't you all spend time together? Couldn't your father join you for Shabbos meals and Sunday dinners and perhaps the more relaxed summertime dinners? And if school nights are crazy, perhaps you could limit that time to once a week with promises of those weekend meals.

You are not obligated to be his social life but I would imagine that time with his daughter and grandchildren is a big highlight for him. In addition, you can encourage your father to get to know other people of his age (perhaps other widowers and widows) to spend time with. Are there synagogue groups, bridge clubs, classes etc. where he could meet some people his age or perhaps just learn something new and engaging? Once you don't have to do and be everything for him, you will both probably desire time together much more and look forward to it with greater anticipation.

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 13

(7) The Carpenters, August 20, 2017 5:49 AM

Be thankful

Your father is still in this world.... Mitzvah begins at home with family first...then others, Letting another do for him, may not be any easier for him, than it is for you. Once he leaves this world, you will never have the opportunity to show him respect or kindness again. Your words have saddened me. May Hashem grant you both another day to spend together.

(6) EMS, August 18, 2017 6:57 PM

Practical Dog Advice

If your job doesn't require you to be on the phone all day, or to listen to recordings, purchase a pair of good noise-cancelling headphones and listen to music while you work. I find instrumental music to be best for me because there aren't lyrics to distract me.

You can get shooting earmuffs which will significantly lessen the sound of the barking.

If you can schedule your phone calls to be in a block of time, you can make calls from an outside location, such as a library (the library by me has private work rooms where people are allowed to make phone calls), or a coffee shop.

You can also take your work to the library for a dedicated quiet environment.

Good luck.

(5) Anonymous, August 17, 2017 6:15 PM

whatever happened to kibud av v'aim?

instead of supporting the daughter and encouraging her to use the opportunity to grasp the world of mitzvos that those of us who lost parents early in life do not have, she is giving her inane advice on how to unload her responsibilites to her father onto Amazon???? i have a 100 year old father in law. my husband moved his business into his fathers house so that he could be in touch with him all day ( connecting doors). he takes him to doctors three times a week and goes in to him every day at 6 oclock to give him supper and stays with him until his father falls asleep. he has been doing this for many years, doing the same when my mother in law was alive. yes, my father in law has aides but my husband prefers to benefit from the blessings of a father and not share them with the aide. My children have learned how to handle themselves with elderly people. they have learned how to give of themselves as well. they have learned they can bring a friend with them when they do the grocery shopping for their grandparents and have a good time as well. they have learned they can keep their grandparents company and learn all kinds of information that a text book would never impart and most of all - they have learned not to always think of themselves but of others. i am grateful to my husband for teaching my children all these wonderful attributes that our Forefathers tried to instill in the generations.

Anonymous, August 18, 2017 7:40 PM

To commenter anonymous #5

What you wrote just made my day a little bit brighter!!

Alan S., August 20, 2017 9:47 AM

What you describe is a very unique situation...

No doubt your husband is an incredible son. I don't know anyone who can move their business into his parent's home. Good for him that he was able to do so.

Though you do not say, do you accompany your husband to his father's home when he gives him supper and remains with him till he sleeps? I assume you do, otherwise you are a saint.

Many, many spouses are exemplary when it comes to honoring their parent. Not everyone can do so, so other practical advice, not at all 'inane', needs to be offered.

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