March 24, 2024

"[O]ur upstairs neighbors acquired an emotional support dog for their teenager. The dog runs back and forth for 30 minutes at a time."

"At least three nights a week, it scratches a bedroom rug, waking us up throughout the night. We have shared our concerns with the neighbors, asking them to crate the dog at night and walk him when he’s rambunctious. They seemed receptive, but the problem persists. How can we balance the rights of people to have emotional support animals with our right to live peacefully?"

A woman who had heretofore enjoyed 37 years of pleasant life in her condo sends a question to the NYT real estate adviser.

I won't quote any of the answer. It boils down to: NOTHING.

I should add that "boils down" was not intended as any sort of reference to the last lines of the previous post. You can do nothing, nothing, nothing about that dog that is scraping at the other side of your ceiling all night long. You should have thought of this possibility when you chose to take up condo life 4 decades ago. Dog people good. Dog haters bad. Bad bad bad haters. You deserve to lie awake all night for your failure to love.

There's this comment over there: "The entire concept of an 'emotional support' dog is absurd. It's just a pet. All pets support our emotional well-being. To somehow classify that as a working animal in the same tier that a seeing-eye dog or an airport bomb-sniffer is total scam." Good luck with that. The concept is too far along to walk it back. It is skritchy-scratching from the inside of our cranium.

By the way, there is something that old woman and her husband can do: MOVE. This is why we have houses. At least when I'm annoyed in the night by sounds of claws overhead, I'm not irked at human beings and devoting my insomnia time to composing conversations about mutual rights. No humans are involved. That's not a floor on the other side of my ceiling. It's a roof. No canines invoved. No Canidae. Just Procyonidae.

69 comments:

gspencer said...

Q. "How can we balance the rights of people to have emotional support animals with our right to live peacefully?"

A. Live in a single-family house.

Joe Biden, America's Putin said...

If you do not have time to care for your animal - please do not get one.

Bob Boyd said...

Two words: Dog hitman.

Levi Starks said...

For some reason I’m thinking that 4” of the right kind of insulation applied to the ceiling of just their bedroom ceiling might go a long way towards fixing the problem.
If they were to decide to sell do you think it would be required do disclose the problem in the real estate listing?

Temujin said...

First- you could suggest a dog trainer to that person above. They may tell you to take a running leap at a rolling donut, but it's the answer for a dog that loves to run around all night. Of course, training a dog actually entails training the dog owners, and that is much more difficult than the dog. Aside from that, nothing you can do. And yes- that's apartment/condo living. But it's also the Big Luck of the Draw when it comes to neighbors- for all of us, in a house or a condo. Unless you're on a big lot with a lot of spare room around you.

Paul Simon is the best lyricist of our generation. And that song is a good one, but in this particular video...he's too old to move his voice around like he used to.

We used to have a bit of a Procyonidae problem here. But weirdly and abruptly, that problem ended. About the same time we all started to see a couple of bobcats on our Arlo cameras at night, sniffing around the front door (smelling for our dog). Or walking out of the nearby woods in the middle of the day(!), to the other wooded area across the street- answering that age old question: Why did the bobcat cross the road?

Get yourself some bobcats. Or coyotes. or gators. We have them all and it seems like they keep the small critters in small numbers.

J L Oliver said...

Ear plugs? Sound machines?

Yancey Ward said...

During the pandemic, I noticed people started bringing their dogs to the grocery store- something I couldn't remember seeing a single time in my life, I was suddenly seeing multiple times a year. At first, I thought that maybe I had just never noticed the practice, but then sometime last year the grocery put up signs notifying the owners that dogs were not allowed in the store.

As for the dog in the letter: take up hammering on the ceiling under the neighbor's bedroom every 20 minutes all night long for a few days. The neighbor might then understand the issue better.

robother said...

Long before the term "support dog" was invented, I noticed that the dogs of neurotic kids usually became quite neurotic themselves. The cocker spaniel of the meanest kid in our neighborhood basically spent all his time in summer in our backyard under the picnic table.

Original Mike said...

Houses don't necessarily solve the problem. Our neighbors had a neurotic dog which would constantly launch itself into our fence. Boom, boom, boom. Constantly. And barked nonstop. They even made an effort (ineffectual) to control it, but that dog was mentally ill. Fortunately, they moved.

Also, the elderly aren't all capable of maintaining a house. I really feel sorry for the poor woman.

Maybe one of those white noise machines for sleeping. And a lot of music during the day.

lonejustice said...

I have tinnitus and am a light sleeper. For the past 34 years I have lived out in the country on 5 acres of land and a gravel road. I would be miserable living in an apartment or even in a house in town. Peace and quiet are really important to my well being. (During planting and harvesting seasons there is an uptick in sound and traffic, but it is temporary.)

Butkus51 said...

Playing "Baby Shark" thru some good speakers while youre not home does wonders.

Turn up that bass.

Enigma said...

True story: I once had a neighbor who got a dog. She kept the dog in a cage in a dark car garage all day long. The dog whined and barked and proved "unsuitable for this location." She had the dog put to sleep at the pound and got a second dog with a different temperament.

Emotional support commodities. One-night-stand impulsiveness. See Paris Hilton and how she sparked an ill-advised chihuahua fad. See 101 Dalmatians, the buying fad, and the horrible everyday lives of inbred Dalmatians. See the horrible inbred lives of virtually every English Bulldog -- unable to mate without assistance due to poor back strength.

Humans can be evil. Owners of pets can be evil.

Dave Begley said...

One of the most disturbing recent trends is people treating pets as if the pets were human. They’re not.

When I see a sticker that says “Dog parent,” I want to puke.

Meade said...

Invite all your friends over. Crank it up to 11. Dancing on the ceiling.
https://youtu.be/ovo6zwv6DX4?si=WNlN0aldzsqL33le
Problem solved.

Aggie said...

I see someone else has the same idea: If you're going to be awakened during the night, you might just consider being bloody-minded enough to ensure those folks upstairs are nice and awake, too.

Kate said...

Our neighbor had a big dog he kept on the porch. It barked constantly, night and day. When my husband said something to the neighbor about it, he swatted us. Cops with hands on guns came to our door.

I would recommend moving cautiously. Or moving out.

Old and slow said...

Blogger Levi Starks said...
"For some reason I’m thinking that 4” of the right kind of insulation applied to the ceiling of just their bedroom ceiling might go a long way towards fixing the problem."

Unfortunately, you would be mistaken. If you have ever tried to apply sound reduction measures to a building, you will have soon learned how difficult it actually is.

Canadian Bumblepuppy said...

Procyonidae.

I did not know raccoons had so many relatives!

Old and slow said...

Total war is the solution. Though moving might be easier.

Breezy said...

Odd that the dog’s behavior doesn’t keep the upstairs neighbors awake too. We have two dogs and if one simply walks around for a few minutes during the night it wakes me up. If I couldn’t get my dog to settle and sleep for 8 hrs I’d be looking for solutions fast. Maybe trazadone.

Ice Nine said...

Get yourself an emotional support Screech Owl

Kevin said...

The condo board can have a pet policy that deals with these issues.

It likely cannot prevent the dog but it can regulate the type and behavior of the animal of the kind they are requesting.

Also, many condos are rental units and owners often get involved to keep peace with the other owners over temporary renters.

gilbar said...

there is something that old woman and her husband can do: MOVE. This is why we have houses.

says the rich lady, that got rich by having the state Pay HER to attend college classes..
Seriously; it Must Be NICE, to be RICH. I'm Glad YOU are.. I wish I was

Kevin said...

Althouse has never lived next to a house with a dog that barks all night.

She’d find she has fewer rights in that situation than the condo-dweller.

mezzrow said...

I would break out my Eb soprano clarinet and work my way through the Baermann etude book. Up an octave where possible. It would be good for me. Old folks need goals and exercise. Extensive long tones with the tuner to check alternate fingerings. Every upper register fingering on an Eb soprano clarinet is actually an alternate fingering, if you want to play in tune.

My cats hide far away when I break out my Eb soprano clarinet. It disciplines all of us. The dogs aren't hounds, are they? Do they howl?

tcrosse said...

A neighbor a few doors up has a black female Great Dane, which I find poking around my back yard now and then, without collar or tags. Letting the dog run loose is strictly forbidden here, but its owner is a Black woman so complaining would be awkward. So I mentioned to her that her dog is perfectly lovely, but that she scared hell out of my (hispanic) landscape guy, and I have no control over what he's likely to do. Problem solved (?).

wild chicken said...

How bloody awful. Apartment life has become a living hell since landlords got greedy and decided pets were allowed...for a price.

Why does every kid think it's his god given right to adopt multiple big dogs as soon as he's on his own?

And leave them home to bark all day?

Don't get me started on suburban houses with their 5400sf lots. Not much better than condos when the first thing the buyers do is acquire four dogs.


Wince said...

You can do nothing, nothing, nothing about that dog that is scraping at the other side of your ceiling all night long.

What about that old lady on the same side of the ceiling?

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

If you choose to live long term in an apartment or condo, you've just got to learn to tolerate a certain amount of noise from the neighbors. Otherwise buy a house. People are such entitled, whiny assholes any more!

Darkisland said...

There is a Seinfeld episode about this.

There's always a seinfeld episode to cover any life occurance.

John Henry

Dude1394 said...

I’m thinking large speakers with a recording of their die attached to the ceiling and played very loud. Also have to get your own service dog so that you cannot be bullied by others.

Ann Althouse said...

If you have an old iPhone or other device, record yourself saying: "Oh, it's the dog scratching on the floor again. I can never sleep when he's doing that. Oh, no, I need to get enough sleep, this is terrible, etc. etc." Set it to replay infinitely. Tape device to the ceiling right under where you think they have their bed.

Darkisland said...

Is the building pet free?

If I didn't want to live with dogs and had bought a condo in a pet free building I would be really pissed about this.

If the son needs an emotional support animal let them move. Why do I have to be around dogs when I went out of my way to avoid them?

If the condo association won't enforce the rules, I might.

There are noise generators that supposedly drive dogs nuts. Maybe put that on a speaker against the ceiling. Let them deal with an out of control dog 24/7

Start leaving bait blocks in the halls where they will see them. Let them think the dog is at risk.

Call Cosimo Kramer for an extraction.

John Henry

Darkisland said...

We live in a house 1/4 acre lot. Also have 2 vacant lots between me and my closest neighbor

Back in the day my next door neighbor let her dogs run loose. Big unlikable fuckers who would come crap in my yard.

When I complained she suggested I build a fence. When I asked if she would pay for it she was amazed. Why should she pay to fence my yard.

I had a couple ideas but fortunately my wife put the kibosh on them.

What I started doing was scooping up the poop and putting it in her driveway where she would run over it.

I only had to do it a couple of times before she got the idea and fenced her yard.

She basically did not speak to me for 35 years. That was fine with me. No dogshit, no crazy dog lady. Win-win.

John Henry

Ralph L said...

A few blasts on a dog whistle during the night might be a low-risk solution.

My brother's neighbor for a few years kept a very noisy kennel in the garage, which was well downhill, half underground, and pointed away from his house, but you could still hear them barking constantly. His town has strict zoning rules for businesses, but the neighbor was in the next town, which has virtually none. I can't remember now what ended it (the guy went to prison, was attacked by a dog, or died), but my brother still uses a white noise generator.

My six months in a condo was next to the elevator. It sounded like someone sighing every trip. Thankfully, it was not a huge building.

MadisonMan said...

I also hear feet on my roof - but those are squirrels, not raccoons (raccoons live in the sewers in my neighborhood).

Ampersand said...

The uncontrolled canine issue transcends condo life. Our Los Angeles neighborhood near a golf course is being invaded by coyotes who have overpopulated their golf course habitat, and hunt for prey in residential neighborhoods. The coyotes, some as big as German Shepherds,are regarded by the majority as sacred cows. They will at least reduce the population of cats and small dogs.

Yancey Ward said...

"A few blasts on a dog whistle during the night might be a low-risk solution."

Aha! Bingo!

friscoda said...

Most NYC buildings (coops and condos) have house rules on extent of carpeting cover that is mandated per square foot. Most buildings do not enforce unless there are noise complaints.

friscoda said...

I see that the NYT article recommends that the mailer check this. It worked for me when I lived in UES.

tommyesq said...

Getting a teenage boy an "emotional support dog" pretty much ensures he will never develop any emotional strength and will be a perpetual loser. At a minimum, teach the boy responsibility by making him train the dog properly.

Marcus Bressler said...

I love dogs. That being said, with the legal exception of service animals, do NOT bring them into supermarkets or any other retail store FFS. Leave your frickin' ANIMAL at home for a 30 minute shopping trip. I've seen a dog have a loose bowel movement right after the cashiers' aisle at Walmart and dogs in shopping carts at Publix. Publix finally put up signs and while the instances of dogs appearing with inconsiderate owners seems to have dropped, unless you complain to a manager, they look the other way when a customer violates the policy.

loudogblog said...

Noise cancelling headphones?

Ice Nine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"I also hear feet on my roof - but those are squirrels, not raccoons (raccoons live in the sewers in my neighborhood)."

Who knows? Do you go up there and look? Something jumps on our roof sometimes and makes enough noise that I used to think there must be *people* up there. How could it be? Who knows? But face it... there are people!

ALP said...

Living in a SFH does NOT shield you from dog noise. In our current location, we listen to a neighbor's dog barking for hours. Dog is alone and bored. Even earplugs don't bring silence. Same situation at our prior SFH.

Ice Nine said...

>Ralph L said...
A few blasts on a dog whistle during the night might be a low-risk solution.<

A great idea...if dog whistles are noxious to dogs. Are they? I was unaware of that if it is so. That would, though, seem to be counter to the purpose for which they are designed and generally used.

Deep State Reformer said...

More "Affluent white people problems", eh? I'm just glad not to hear ambulance, fire trucks, police cars, gunshots, loud music, revving engines, & people screaming at each other all night any longer. And back then I couldn't move either. Count your blessings.

MadTownGuy said...

Our previous upstairs neighbors had a medium size dog that ran around their unit and made some noise, but pretty much stayed quiet at night.

Current upstairs neighbor has young son who just turned five, and he makes more noise than the dog did, plus they keep odd hours. That said, it could be much worse, and they are good people so we don't have the need to complain.

The Real Andrew said...

Do what the guy did at the end of AClockwork Orange:

https://youtu.be/PDkzbIIKDJU?si=h7k77rt1bCByvHFi

Unless the dog likes Beethoven.

The Real Andrew said...

Do what the guy did at the end of AClockwork Orange:

https://youtu.be/PDkzbIIKDJU?si=h7k77rt1bCByvHFi

Unless the dog likes Beethoven.

Balfegor said...

The dog just needs to be better trained and possibly needs to be walked more regularly (particularly likely given that they're in a condo and can't just pop out to the yard). From a condo perspective, there ought to be designated quiet hours. If the owners have a pet that regularly acts up during quiet hours, they ought to be fined. Unlike with, say, a newborn baby, this isn't a heavy lift.

That said, it doesn't sound like the dog is barking, just thumping around on the floor and worrying at rugs. The writer may just be a light sleeper. Seems unlikely in NYC, but I suppose there are quiet parts of the city too (I remember sirens all the time because I had a hospital a few blocks away when I lived there).

The Real Andrew said...

Do what the guy did at the end of AClockwork Orange:

https://youtu.be/PDkzbIIKDJU?si=h7k77rt1bCByvHFi

Unless the dog likes Beethoven.

Bruce Hayden said...

“The uncontrolled canine issue transcends condo life. Our Los Angeles neighborhood near a golf course is being invaded by coyotes who have overpopulated their golf course habitat, and hunt for prey in residential neighborhoods. The coyotes, some as big as German Shepherds,are regarded by the majority as sacred cows. They will at least reduce the population of cats and small dogs.”

In PHX, we have coyotes who live (mostly) in the big open space south of us. Last time I saw them all together,there were 5 of them, trotting through the subdivision at 10 in the morning. Brazen. Asked PXPD if I could shoot them, if they attacked either me or my small dog. Sure. So, I go armed when walking the dog at night, or in the open space. 9 mm w/SD ammo. (I carry a 10 mm with bear loads in MT when walking the dog). A month or two ago, around midnight, heard their characteristic yip, yip, yip, just outside the subdivision, moving towards us, as I walked the dog. So, we headed home, with the gun drawn. Some of the neighbors seem put off that I go armed. It’s filled with Teslas and hybrids, so that’s not too surprising. Tough. AZ is stop essentially a Constitutional Carry state, I have a CCL anyway, and if I have to shoot a coyote, it was self defense, and I am a (retired) attorney.

We have a decent sized backyard with 5’ walls around it, with dog and esp cat proofed gates around it (our cat has been declawed - but clawed cats can get over it). Let the small dog and cat out there during the day, but close the door at night, because those coyotes have been known to go over those walls to harvest dogs and cats in back yards.

Steve said...

Dog haters bad.

Shitty dog owners worse. In the Venn Diagram of shitty dog owners, emotional support dog owners are a subset.

gilbar said...

Here in Fayette county Iowa, Every county park has a sign with a list of rules.
On that list is: NO DOGS OFF LEASHES

which means that; EVERY Time you go to a Fayette county park, a loose dog will come running up to you..
Sometimes barking, somethings growling, sometimes wagging his tail, but ALWAYS looking confused:
WHY isn't his master around?
A while later, the owner will come around the corner; and say: OH! don't worry! He's "friendly"

See..
IF you own a dog.. It's FUN to let your dog run around loose.
If you ARE a dog, it's pretty terrifying not knowing where your master is (maybe they've abandoned you!)
If you are just trying to go for a walk, you get to deal with masterless, unsupervised dogs; which NEVER look like THEY are having fun. But, of course; it's NOT Supposed to Be Fun for the dog, or for the other people.. It's supposed to be FUN! for the owner, to think that their dog LOVES running around loose..

I suspect that a LOT of readers here think that it's FUN for their dog to run around loose too.
The thing is: *i* see your dog when he's 100 yards in front of you.. And he Seldom looks like he's having fun.. He usually looks REALLY concerned about what this strange man(ME!) is going to do.

Do your dog a favor.. keep at his side (which is really ONLY possible when you're on a leash)

FullMoon said...

Blogger Butkus51 said...

Playing "Baby Shark" thru some good speakers while youre not home does wonders.





First 15 seconds oughta explain it..

My Favorite Baby Shark for obvious reason

FullMoon said...

Drill a small hole in ceiling. Attach tubing to propane gas tank. Feed tubing into upstairs condo.
Use just enough gas to put dog asleep.

Could probably hook up a timer, check youtube for info.

FullMoon said...

Get the kid a couple of hamsters.

Mary Beth said...

Who wants to bet that they voted for the politicians who made emotional support animals protected?

If the dog scratching at the rug doesn't bother the people in the upstairs condo, I wonder if they are shutting it in a room by itself.

All pets are emotional support animals. Classifying a few of them as that in order to get around housing restrictions is stupid. I also think it's unfair to the dog to be kept in a 2nd or 3rd floor condo without a yard to go into. I see people saying, if you don't want a dog upstairs, buy a house, but how about, if you want a dog, buy a house.

Ambrose said...

Seems unfair - they chose a co op in a no pet building at as time when people did not circumvent such rules with emotional support dogs. Now the rules have been changed on them.

Howard said...

A perfect life is completely shattered by the most simplistic of trifles.

robother said...

People recommending dog whistles? Waiting for the DEI crowd to descend upon the Althouse commentariat. We all know they have an incredible sense of hearing when it comes to those things.

Another old lawyer said...

We owned property a few years ago that would have been a great rental. We decided against it because we had replaced all of the flooring a few years before and the risk of having to accept a tenant claiming a cat as an emotional support animal was too great.

walter said...

Emotional support fish are a better fit here.
And they can join Howie in his float tank.
Semper blub, blub, blub.

Tom Grey said...

Moving is he obvious, very expensive option.
Apartment/ condo rules against pets are almost certainly no good to stop seeing eye dogs, nor emotional support, social support thru laws to help the disabled require non-disabled to accept inconvenience.

Soundproof insulation is likely cheaper than moving, yet still expensive.
Who pays to reduce emotional distress?

Former Illinois resident said...

People seem more rude, more disrespectful, more aggressive, more "empowered" to behave badly towards other people.

Life is most peaceful in a single-family house with a garage, with sufficient space so as not to be able to see/hear neighbors in their own homes.

Condo-ownership is often fraught with problems, including financial fraud by board members, poor management, petty politics, and residents who can range from respectful to rude to criminal, with little recourse. And yes, those unruly "emotional support" animals, example of one condo resident's disdain towards their neighbors.

Former Illinois resident said...

In our big-city downtown 50-story high-rise condo, dogs are permitted with no limitation beyond "dogs must ride in freight elevator and exit through garage". Both owners and renters are allowed Large dogs, which are frequent problem.

One 60+ man owned a large vicious "swiss guard-dog" German shepherd that he couldn't ever control in presence of other dogs. Not only did he and dog always ride freight elevator ALONE, nobody would join them, with or without another dog. (This is a busy single freight elevator.) If encountering another resident's dog, shepherd would lunge and attack. Its owner was restrain dog, so would fall upon his dog, forcing it to ground, he laying on top of dog, while other owner+dog quickly retreated. Very dangerous situation, never properly resolved by management. This went on for three years, when shepherd owner moved away.

Another family w/little kids bought a german shepherd pup, cute while puppy, but never properly trained, so same situation as "swiss" shepherd. Same lunge and attach demeanor. Same fall-on-dog owner-response. Same dangerous situation, never properly resolved, until owners moved away.

Another problem: abandoned dog pee/poop accidents in both passenger and freight elevator cabs. While dogs are prohibited from using passenger elevators, they're in there anyways. Ditto for entry lobby.

There's a large dog presently living in unit overhead. Dog barks and shuffles, but not allowed in bedrooms, so we could sleep - but for outside big-city noise. Here it's BIG PROBLEM: frequent police and ambulance sirens, "boombox" vehicles, modified-exhaust motorcycles and cars, multiple 911 calls to Section-8 high-rise across street, nightly random drunk people arguing and shouting outside past midnight. White-noise machine is godsend.

JAORE said...

Get an emotional support wolf. Teach it to howl every time the upstairs mutt moves.

Then turn the wolf loose on some poor cattleman's land... virtue signaled and blissful silence follows.