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.