….I find myself asking this question a lot, especially when I see the news and the goings on in the world around me. It was the idea of good people that helped with the decision of moving to the town my family and I currently reside. I remember how friendly everyone seemed when my husband and I visited here for the first time when house hunting. It was the idea of wanting more good people to move to town and shop the businesses that motivated me to volunteer for the town. However, lately I have been struggling with the idea of good people and also with wanting to volunteer here at all.
It started slowly at first… getting frustrated by people not wanting to work together all the while knowing that it would all be in their best interest to do so. It was followed by having to deal with bullies in my neighborhood. Then this spring, it all came apart in dealing with neighbors that wrecked havoc on my family for many months to follow.
This spring, the owner of the house next to me decided to rent the house to a family that had a rather large dog. Our houses are all fairly close together, and unless you live in a development or in the country, you have the choice of large house and tiny yard or small house and big yard. We chose the big house with a tiny yard combination. The house next to us also had a tiny yard. Within a few weeks of the new neighbors moving next door, we were treated with hearing barking for long periods of time in the day and sometimes being woken in the middle of the night by the dog. We tried going over to their house to ask nicely if they could quiet their dog. However, they wouldn’t answer the door. I saw one of the guys living there when I was outside one day and asked nicely if he could do something about the dog barking for so long. I tried to be lighthearted thinking that everything would be okay. However, it wasn’t. I asked again about a week later. This time he responded in shouting at me that his dog could bark as long as he wanted. There is an ordinance. I knew it, and I knew that it also said that after 10 minutes, I could call the police. However, I did not want to do that. On the other hand, the dog’s aggressive demeanor was also a concern for me as a mother. The dog would bark, growl, and bare his teeth when we would be in our yard. He would greet us in this manner at the fence when we would exit our car, and it got to the point that my children were terrified to play outdoors when this dog was outside.
I tried talking to the owner of the house. No dice. I tried emailing the police department looking for a peaceful solution without actually calling. No response. Finally, after putting up with it for a few months, I finally called the police after the dog had woken my whole family one summer morning. Of course, it didn’t help. I was left with a feeling that I was being a nuisance for calling. I took videos of the dog because I was worried that the dog might eventually try to bite, and I wanted to have evidence that we weren’t inciting the dog. I knew we were being harassed. Heck, I heard the one guy and his friends encouraging the dog to bark when I was gardening one evening. It was terrifying in a way because I felt trapped. I come from a town where people are generally considerate to each other, where all I should have had to say is, “Hey, your dog is barking for a really long time. Could you quiet him down a bit.” And that really should have been the end of it. Instead, I found myself telling the kids to be very quiet getting out of the car so that the neighbors wouldn’t let their dog out to bark at us.
I would love to say that this is the worst of the story, but it isn’t. About a month after I called the police, the dog jumped up on the fence and tried to bite at my son when he was heading to another neighbor’s house. He was terrified. I was livid as was my husband. We made several phone calls and were basically told that until the dog bites, there is nothing that could be done. Basically we were waiting for the dog to bite one of us at this point. And I would love to say that this is the worst part of the story, but it isn’t.
A few weeks later, their utilities were shut off and they were evicted. They responded by bringing home a generator and putting it on their back porch. Remember how I said that the houses are very close together? Well, all the fumes from the generator went into my house. At first, I didn’t think much about the fact that I had a headache and was feeling dizzy until the symptoms went away as soon as we left the house. When we came home, the symptoms came back instantly. A friend of mine came over and got sick as well. She helped me evacuate my family and let us stay with her family for a few days, yes, a few days. The police came and told them to shut it down. However, they turned it back on the next day. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just started making calls. As it turns out, I should have probably told my story to the town manager long before things had progressed with the dog as they had. The few weeks that followed were nerve-wracking and chaotic. The kids were scared of the neighbors. I was too. The smell coming from the place was enough to knock someone out, and it just seemed that these people were set on terrorizing the neighborhood as much as they could before they left for good.
It’s over now, but it has taken a lot to calm down after all that has happened. The kids are still hesitant to play in the yard. I have had nightmares that they are going to come back.
As a mother, this has been hell for me. I have lost two babies in less than a year. My kids are my world. To have them terrified of a dog and to have my son almost bitten by said dog has brought out that fierce mother instinct. The thought that something horrible could have happened to us because of our neighbors’ negligence has wrecked havoc on my mind. I keep asking the question, “How can people be like this and why?” I felt violated. And yet…
Despite what happened, I did see good people here. I saw them in my neighbors in the opposite direction that took my family into their home and were my rock when we were terrified to be in our home. I saw them in other neighbors that I met this summer when helping that family find their missing dog.
I still feel let down by the town that I have been working so passionately to promote, and yet, I have found that I can’t quite yet quit. I would hate for someone else to go through a similar experience to what my family and I have been through the past several months. I want people to know that in situations like this, you have to keep calling. You shouldn’t stay quiet, which I did for much longer than I should have. I want to see good people move here so that people like those people don’t have the chance. I want to see more consideration for our fellow neighbors. I want to be able to live in a neighborhood when I say hi and smile, and it’s genuine.
I am trying to remain positive. It isn’t always easy. However, I have to keep trying to find good in this world. I know that there are still good people in this world.