Fort Collins is a dog-friendly town. Correspondingly, most of the owners in town are highly-responsible, better-than-average folk, where the dogs are well-exercised and well-behaved.
I'm reposting a link to a cautionary tale that befell our good friends Neil and Diana after moving to Ft. Collins. It's a story that began with barking dogs, and never really ended, but took a hard financial and personal toll on pretty much everyone involved. Nobody imagined it would take the path that it did, and even though the emotions and stakes got higher and higher, the fundamental cause was a neighbor that did not take responsibility for their dogs. No good really came of this story, so it's Neil's hope that, by sharing his view of it publicly, something good eventually will.
Besides empathizing with Neil's plight due to physical illness and disability, it was, sadly, even easier to sympathize with it, as we've had a couple of neighbor-dog issues here. Briefly:
1. One neighbor in a house behind us had a Very Unintelligent Dog that would bark incessantly (loudly, sharply, repeatedly) for 10, 20, 30+ minutes at a time -- mostly at a specific squirrel that taunted the dog.
Yes, the squirrel would run along a fence, jump on a tree just out of reach, and flick his tail (I kid you not) as the dog would stare and bark.
This was obnoxious enough, but we put up with it, until our in-laws stayed with us for a few months in the bedroom that faced the house (still a good 50+ yards away) and were awakened most days before 7am.
Caleb and I went to the owner's house and talked to the guy. He was responsive and apologetic, clearly exasperated, reasonable story: hard-working guy, teenage daughter wanted dog, didn't really take time to train the dog. The dog was left outside between his leaving for work and his daughter leaving for school. They adjusted this to keep the dog in a kennel outside, plus we saw the girl play with/exercise the dog a bit more. It wasn't perfect, but it got much better, and has been since then.
2. At the same time, I could hear a high-frequency noise outside. It was intermittent and hard to ignore if any windows were open, going off for ~5 seconds of every 20-30 seconds, and I had no idea what it was. Somebody (Neil?) suggested it might be a bark-control device. Aha! But, the device actually wasn't responding to barking or anything, it was truly random.
By crazy coincidence, I met a guy who used to live in our neighborhood. Turns out he lived next to the barking dog, and I mentioned the high-frequency noise. His eyes lit up and he mentioned that he had installed a bark-control device! So I talked to that neighbor, the new owner, and mentioned this -- he was very responsive and said he knew about the device but didn't really hear anything (my hearing sucks, but high-frequency sensitivity declines with age), and he turned it off.
Awesome, responsive neighbors -- but funny how several people got wrapped up in stress and inconvenience because one person couldn't take care of their dog.
3. This year, our new neighbors downstairs moved in with a malamute mix that vocalizes/whines when left alone. We were treated to two nights of this when they first moved in, locked the dog in the bathroom while it whined all night, then left as they made trips to move everything. Understanding that the dog was in a new situation and hoping it would get better, we met them and they assured us that they had a bark control collar that was uncharged but would be able to take care of it in the future. Fair enough.
Next up, despite 2 people being home most of the day, and living next to a green belt with free (subsidized-by-HOA-fees) garbage bags, and very close to the dumpster, they left the dog chained on the patio, which was soon covered by a week's worth of feces and urine. Besides being gross, offensive, and irresponsible, it's against the law and HOA. I hate being a nag, but when it kept going, and other neighbors had mentioned it, I talked to them about it. No apology (just excuses), but they cleaned it up. Until they did it again. And I talked to them again. Ugh.
Meanwhile, working from home, I still get to hear the dog whine for 5-10 minutes every time the owners leave (even if it's briefly). I've dealt with this, but it went over the top one weekend when J heard the dog whining for 45 minutes straight. She knocked on their door, nobody home, as they were out of town. Keeping in mind that we've talked to them 3 times already and had no other recourse, she called Animal Control, which was responsive and gave a warning. When the owners returned, we were able to clear it up (mostly, the dog-sitter wasn't using the bark collar, which does seem to work), although they were far more concerned about getting a warning then they were about offending neighbors and breaking the law and HOA covenants. Again.
If I did learn anything from Neil's story, it's that you never make suggestions to dog owners -- it's like telling a parent how to take care of their kids. Unfortunately, in this analogy, the parent is smoking in the car with the kids and nobody is wearing a seatbelt. Everyone we're friends with that has dogs are such good caretakers, providing exercise and training, that it's frustrating to encounter, through no choice of your own, people who don't take responsibility.
So on behalf of everybody who wants to enjoy their peaceful home, and on behalf of the majority of responsible dog-owners in town, please take responsibility for your pets. If somebody has a complaint, listen to them, as you may be causing an innocent person to suffer (especially while you're away and do not have direct witness to the complaint), and by the time they first say something to you, it's likely they've been stressing and debating for weeks about how to approach the problem. Take responsibility and be nice to your neighbors!