Neighbours. We’ve all got them. Some are good and some are not so good. Generally, it would be safe to say that I have the best neighbours. To the left side of me is a vacant block with a nice Italian family on the other side who have friendly family get togethers and smile and say hello occasionally. Across the road there are three vacation houses, which means I see the owners every other month when the mood and the weather suits. Behind me lives a quiet woman who does shift work, so our paths rarely cross. To the right side of me is another weekender that is the part-time home to two of the most self-righteous, unfriendly, impersonal people that I know.  Sadly it is at this time of the year that they decide to take their  sabbatical from parts unknown, possibly  a well manicured upmarket yuppy-ised residential area, where there are more BMWs and Mercedes than there are driveways.

They ignore me some of the time and the rest of their time is spent complaining about my dogs and their ‘constant barking’ that is interrupting the peace and solitude that they have apparently escaped the rat-race for.

Welcome to the real suburbia I say, where some dogs do their thing and bark to let you know that something new is going on in their neck of the woods, ie, strangers, intruders, and ill-doers afoot.

I forgot to mention that I live on an island, and it  is generally known for it’s idyllic beach and bushland settings, wildlife, naturalists, artists, tree-huggers, and animal lovers. Every other person on the island owns a pet, usually a dog or two, so we do get quite a bit of barking and carry-on at different times of the day, especially in the tourist season, when the holidaymakers and a heck of a lot of children come to play; all of whom are capable of making a significant amount of noise all on their own. It seems that even though there is a street full of screaming children and family functions, my dogs are the only things on the aggravation agenda.

I was cornered the other evening when I arrived home from a day of work and shopping, and eager for a rest. It was getting on dark, and they lay in wait for me as I made my way to the front porch. I hadn’t even made it to my front door before I was told all about the terrible day that they had had putting up with the endless rantings from my rabid fur-trio from the front veranda. Apparently is has gone on for a few days, but as I was here for most of the week I can only conclude that I must be going deaf, because I missed it all.

I was later told by a much kinder neighbour, and friend, that my dogs probably barked a half a dozen times during the day at tourists who were walking down the street and the children that were screaming in the swimming pool across the road. She also added that the complainants were out most of the day on a fishing expedition and didn’t arrive home until late in the afternoon. I therefore have to conclude that although my dogs do bark, as dogs do, it is obviously the fact that they are barking at all that is the problem, and that they are my dogs.

I am left wondering why my neighbours do not complain to the families having parties, or about the children screaming as they jump in and out of the swimming pool and run around their front yard. I think it is because they think that they can. They know my husband is away right now and there appears to be a pattern that is developing. Nothing is said while my husband is present and I have his support and backup.

It is a cowardly way of going about things, and although I will take their grievances on board and try to develop strategies to alleviate their ‘suffering’ while they are here, I refuse to stoop to their level and argue the point for the moment.

I will just wait until my husband gets home and chainsaws their tree that is overhanging our yard and causing our plants to die.