Kids vs. Dogs: The Battle for the Greenway

2014-02-28 14.08.42

Looking at the greenway from our back porch

Our yard backs up to our neighborhood’s greenway. It’s not a very nice greenway, but it’s a greenway nonetheless. It gives the kids a little extra room to run and play and throw the ball around. Knowing the kids had that extra space is the only reason we purchased a house on a lot as small as ours.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, the kids have been spending more time outside. They (and I) are all very grateful for this reprieve from the monotony of indoor life. Unfortunately, their time outside seems to be upsetting some of our neighbors. Why, you ask? Are my kids overly loud? Disrespectful? Leaving garbage on the ground? Behaving in any way that is unsuitable for playing in a public park-type area?

Nope.

My kids’ presence is causing the offended neighbor’s dog to bark.

Seriously.

The neighbor and his wife have, on two separate occasions now, fussed at my kids, telling them they need to get back in their own yard.

I haven’t witnessed any of these exchanges myself. They conveniently only happen when I go inside to change a diaper or refill my coffee. But I have no reason to doubt anything the kids are saying. They’re fairly honest kids and they all come running back with the same story. By the time I get outside to address the situation, there’s nothing/no one to see.

Playing some chase-type game in the greenway.

Playing some chase-type game in the greenway.

If it were just this neighbor, I’d probably just write them off as a pair of grouches and ignore the situation (unless further action became necessary) coaching the kids, of course, to always respond politely to the neighbor’s “request.” But it’s not just them. My neighbor two doors down the other way grumbles loudly enough for us to hear when she gets annoyed at her dogs barking at my kids, but hasn’t had the audacity to say anything directly to them or me.

I seriously just don’t know what to do about this.

Kids play.

Dogs bark.

What’s the big deal?

I find the barking dogs to be annoying, too, but I would never go tell the neighbors that their dogs don’t have a right to be outside. And children certainly have more rights than dogs.

I really have tried to step back and look at this situation objectively, considering the neighbors’ point of view. Despite that, I simply can’t figure out where they get off thinking:

a.) that they have a right to tell my kids where they can play

AND

b.) how they can possibly believe that other people should have to alter their behavior to ensure their dogs behave appropriately

2014-02-28 11.16.26

On a happier note, it looks like Spring has finally “sprung!”

If these people don’t like the way their dog behaves, that’s their problem, not mine, and certainly not my kids’. There are plenty of other dogs in other yards that don’t bark at my kids. It seems to me that my kids aren’t the problem; the 3 dogs in question are. Actually, like I said earlier, dogs bark. That tells me the problem isn’t even the dogs. It’s these neighbors, specifically their attitudes.

I can’t help but wonder if they are simply spoiled-rotten, selfish people that think the entire world should cater to their every whim, or if they simply don’t like kids and don’t want to see any. Regardless, the problem remains theirs, not mine.

If my children were behaving inappropriately or antagonizing their dogs in any way, I would certainly take the necessary steps to change my children’s behavior. Since they’re not, I really think these neighbors either need to get over it or take the necessary steps to change their dogs’ behavior.

What I find most unacceptable about this whole thing (even though I find the ENTIRE situation to be absolutely absurd) is that they’ve chosen to take the issue up with my kids. If they have a problem, they need to speak to me or Josh. Not small children. Especially not in the intimidating manner that they are supposedly doing it. There is simply no excuse for two adults to be intimidating three small children, regardless of what the children are doing.

So, the question is, where do I go from here? I’m simply not willing to tell my kids they can’t play on the greenway. Does that mean I need to take the initiative, go down to the neighbor’s house, and address the situation? Do I just wait, hoping to catch them in the act? Do I just blow it off? I can’t decide. I really don’t want to be perceived as an annoying or unreasonable neighbor for any reason, but my children have a right to play outside. I’m not going to take that away from my kids just to appease a couple cranky neighbors and their dogs. I would like to think that if they would take a step back from the situation they would realize they don’t really have a right to be annoyed by us utilizing one of the amenities of our neighborhood, but something tells me these people aren’t that reasonable. So…what to do now?

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