Deliberately or otherwise, this person is lying about us
October 20, 2011 8:22 PM   Subscribe

What do you do with a passive-aggressive, anonymous busybody neighbor?

My wife and I have an adorable puppy that, as of 24 hours ago, one of our neighbors seems to have become fixated on, in a bad way. This came out of nowhere and I don't know what to do with it.

We've lived in an apartment complex since April. Our unit has a little patio area with 5-foot walls around it. When the puppy needs to do her "business," she sits by the door and we let her out onto the patio. We'll keep an eye on her and let her in when she's ready; sometimes she likes to poke around and enjoy the weather so we'll let her stay for 10-15 minutes. Occasionally if she's ready to come back inside before we notice, she'll bark once to get our attention, and we open the door. She is generally very quiet. I clean up her messes outside every couple days.

Last night around 10:00 we let her out as usual. She had been outside for a few minutes when someone walked by, talking, on the sidewalk. She can't see over the wall but the noise surprised her and she started barking. She barked maybe six times times in quick succession before I was able to get to the door and bring her inside.

About a half hour later, we got a knock on the door. It was an apartment security guard. He said he'd received a noise complaint from someone, about a dog that "wouldn't stop barking." My wife and I were shocked and offended that someone would call and make a complaint after that little thing, which (contrary to the report) we'd stopped as soon as it started.

Today the apartment management left a strongly worded letter on our door. It included such phrases as "there have been some disturbances from your apartment," and "disorderly conduct will not be tolerated." I have no idea if this letter was prompted by the same call that dispatched the security guard last night, or a second call. The letter says "a dog was left out on the patio... dog was barking and disturbed neighbors" (emphasis mine). My wife and I are quiet, peaceful people. We don't want trouble with the apartment management, especially over such a massively exaggerated account of what happened. It was downright false.

I had hoped the letter from management was the end of this story, but I just returned from dinner to find a new letter attached to the front door. This one from the unidentified neighbors themselves. It's short, so I'm going to print it here:
Dear neighbor:

We've noticed you've been leaving your dog outside on your patio, with no access to get back in. This apartment complex doesn't allow that. It can be a nuisance to people around you and worse, as it gets colder, it is abusive and neglectful to your pet.

If you continue to leave your dog outside as we get into the fall and winter, we will contact animal protection services and the management office. If you love your dog, you will keep him or her inside.

Thank you.
I am really shaken up by this. Whoever wrote this is completely mistaken; we never "leave" the dog outside "with no access to get back in." We're here and watching the whole time. What we do is in fact completely permitted by the apartment complex.

My offense is compounded by the insinuation that we're abusive pet owners and the threats that follow it. Worst of all is the feeling that there's nothing we can do to prevent anonymous from following through on those threats, because our behavior is not going to (and shouldn't) change. I would confront this busybody directly but I don't have a clue who it is. I feel like we have no opportunity to defend ourselves. This is the first issue we've had in the six months we've lived here, and don't know if we're dealing with a longtime resident or someone who just moved in.

Sorry for the length. My question is this: How in the world can we deal with this person, and protect our dog — and lease — from this crap? From the tiny glimpse we've been given of our neighbor's personality, this "problem" that's been foisted on us is not going to go away on its own.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis to Human Relations (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You ignore it. Seriously.

Apartment management, you can talk with. If animal protection ever actually shows up, you'll talk with them too. You're not doing anything wrong, so you'll be fine. Any animal-control officer who has been on the job for more than a year has plenty of experience with false complaints. Your situation is unfortunate but not unique, and will be recognized for what it is.

As for the neighbor? "How to deal with" him/her? You don't. People who don't sign their name to confrontational correspondence do not warrant being taken seriously. Ignore any and all anonymous messages. Don't even read the next one, just rip it up.

This is a brand-new situation, only 24 hours old, and you're being threatened with concrete, substantive it's understandable, what you're feeling. Allow that, then take a breath and let your intellect take back over. This person has not earned the place in your life that you're giving him/her. It can be difficult to ignore, I know, but that's the proper and deserved response. You're far from the only person who has ever dealt with psychotic-obsessive crap like this from some anonymous neighbor, and it is almost certain that you're also not the first person to have dealt with it from this neighbor. Talk reasonably with apartment management, animal control, and whomever else shows up face-to-face at your door, and you'll be fine. Ignore the coward.
posted by red clover at 8:34 PM on October 20, 2011 [19 favorites]

1% of the population is psychotic. There's not a whole lot you can do other than make sure your own behavior is above reproach, so that any outside parties can quickly identify the crazy party in a dispute. Agree that you should simply destroy or archive, without reading, any further communication.
posted by wnissen at 8:40 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: I don't usually jump back this early into an answer thread, but both of you have suggested not reading any more anonymous letters. Not responding to them I understand, but what's the reasoning behind not reading them at all? Shouldn't I stay aware of the latest complaints and threats, if they change over time?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:43 PM on October 20, 2011

Not reading the letters is meant to keep you from going nuts by having to deal with anonymous threats and accusations you can't do anything about. Depending on your personality, that may or may not be helpful for you. Which will drive you more crazy, reading them and seeing bizarre threats and escalating craziness, or not reading them and wondering what insanity they might contain?
posted by decathecting at 8:45 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

The reasoning is threefold. Firstly from an ethical standpoint, they really don't deserve to be read. If somebody won't sign their name, they don't deserve to be heard. Second and most importantly, for your own well-being...see how you're feeling right now? That's the only result you'll get from reading anonymous threats. You won't get substantive information, and "the latest complaints" don't matter because you already know they're based on psychotic bullshit. It doesn't matter whether they're empty threats or whether she actually calls. If and when animal control shows up at your door, then you'll deal with that. Knowing about the dumb threats isn't going to change the truth of your story, so who cares. And third? Don't read them because that's exactly what he/she wants. The person is crazy and wants attention and control and pick-one-of-a-dozen other things, all tied directly to your reading their notes. Don't help.

If you want, you can tack a notecard to your door for 24 hours saying, "Unsigned notes will not be read." But I wouldn't even bother with that. Seriously, just ignore.
posted by red clover at 8:49 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

If what's really burning you is the lack of ability to respond, then type up your own anonymous letter addressed to the person making false accusations. Tell them that you are not "leaving" the dog out there, and that next time they have a problem, they should address you directly. Put it in a common area, or on the door of the neighbors it could be.

This may not be a good idea, but it would probably make me feel better.
posted by spaltavian at 8:50 PM on October 20, 2011

I would write a strongly worked letter back to management. Well not too strongly, but firm. And then I'd start timing how long you leave fido on the patio and document how many times she barks. So that the next time this happens you can throw it in their face and cover yourself because it sounds like these neighbors might push this. And yeah I'd put a letter detailing your care of your animal on your door, it's risky, but I wouldn't take accusation of animal abuse lying down. It's one thing to overreact to some barking, but quite another to go from owners letting dog bark outside to animal abuse. Dear god back in the day most dogs were outside dogs all year round. They're covered in fur for christ sakes. I mean I realize some breeds can't handle that but my little dog would play outside in the snow for hours. Ludicrous.
posted by whoaali at 9:01 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would, however, take to picking up her messes every day, and not "every couple days."
posted by namesarehard at 9:01 PM on October 20, 2011 [46 favorites]

Sooner or later the crazy always comes out. You now know you have a crazy neighbor. This is a person who has already taken up more of your angst than she ever should. I have a favorite old world saying (no pun intended), "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on." Let them waste their time barking at you. Ignore. Go about your business. Maybe even take a cell phone video of puppy playing happily on patio.

The best case for you and the worst for the anonymous chickenshit is that animal control does show up, recognizes the situation for what it is and leaves you be as they will. Now what will crazy person do? They would be at a point of crying wolf. In a drunken Machiavellian moment I might even call animal control on myself so they come and get it over with. Sort of schedule it on your own time.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:02 PM on October 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

When the puppy needs to do her "business," she sits by the door and we let her out onto the patio. We'll keep an eye on her and let her in when she's ready; sometimes she likes to poke around and enjoy the weather so we'll let her stay for 10-15 minutes.

Can you leave the patio door open when the puppy is in the back yard? Also, is this shared patio space?
posted by andoatnp at 9:09 PM on October 20, 2011

Response by poster: Not shared patio space, it's ours exclusively. We could leave the door open during the summertime but now the weather's getting chillier. Not too cold for the dog to go out but the apartment gets drafty if we hold it open. It is a sliding glass door though, so we can keep an eye on her. She's well-behaved, and sits by the door when she's ready to come back in.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 9:16 PM on October 20, 2011

The relationship that you want to manage carefully is with your complex management. Respond to the letter, explaining things as you explained them to us. Your dog was startled by someone outside, and barked, and you brought the dog in right away. You always watch the dog and let it in as soon as it wants to come in. And so on. Have you taken your puppy to obedience classes? If so, say that in the letter. If not, consider enrolling in some- it will strengthen your case for being responsible pet owners should things escalate. Be calm, measured, and reasonable in tone.

With regards to the anonymous letters from your neighbors, ignore them. Just disregard.

I say this as a pet owner who has had Animal Control called by a busybody neighbor for unfounded neglect charges. We were out of town and had hired a dogsitter who happened to be gone when Animal Control came by, but it was no big deal. They saw that the dog was healthy, clean, fed, had access to water and the yard, and was not barking. End of story. We followed up with the note left by Animal Control and were told that since they had found no indications of neglect, if our neighbors called again to complain we would be referred to mediation to work it out, since there were clearly no issues for Animal Control to do anything about. That was in Berkeley, and that might be a particularly Berkeley approach, but even if some neighbor calls Animal Control on you, it's not the end of the world.

I would suggest picking up the poops on a daily basis though.
posted by ambrosia at 9:22 PM on October 20, 2011 [8 favorites]

How about a doggy door? Resolves the neighbor's concerns and it's easier for you and the dog. Win/win/win!
posted by Sxyzzx at 9:25 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

nthing focus on the management, and the tone should be based upon whatever relationship you've had with them so far. If you're in a position to go into the leasing office and have a quiet no-drama chat to clear up the misunderstanding, then do that. If things are more formal, then you'll need to handle it a bit more formally.

nthing daily poop patrol, and I think you might also benefit from spending a bit of patio time outside -- take a camp chair or something -- to assert your presence. No need to scan the windows for Busybody: just be visible.

How about a doggy door?

I think cutting a hole in a sliding glass patio door would make the apartment management a bit testy.
posted by holgate at 9:34 PM on October 20, 2011 [9 favorites]

Leave a note on your door for the next time they come.

Dear Neighbour

Thanks for your concern about our dog. Rest assured, she is not 'left out' on the patio; rather, she is let out (not the absence of the letter 'f'), and then let back in, both while we are at home. At all other times she is in the house, and I understand that this will please you enormously.

Might I take this opportunity to suggest that, while your concern was touching, the bit about calling animal control was a little over the top? That certainly strikes us as the sort of punitive action one might take only when one was fully apprised of the facts, which you aren't. I won't go so far as to suggest that your concern for our dog isn't actually genuine, and that you just put that bit in about her getting cold to make yourself sound like a little bit less of a nosy prick, but I'm sure you can appreciate how another person might develop that impression.

We look forward to continuing to be your neighbours. With a dog. Which we will continue to let out on to the patio, no matter the season.

Much love
Those People With That Dog

posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:40 PM on October 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

There are pet doors made for sliding doors, like this.
posted by Sxyzzx at 9:40 PM on October 20, 2011 [8 favorites]

don't engage the crazy. ignore them.
posted by hollisimo at 9:44 PM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

Personally, I would probably take that anonymous letter to the management office and complain in person. Well, no, not complain -- share your concerns and your bewilderment over your neighbors' misunderstanding, being very polite but not at all nervous. (Resisting the urge to make any truly snide cracks about the batshitinsane nosy neighbors, as they very well may be the manager's grandparents or something.)

It's a fact of living in close quarters that we can see the private space of our neighbors sometimes, but your neighbors are crossing a line by monitoring and dictating your behavior. If they want to shake their heads and cluck their tongues because your dog spends 15 minutes outside every few hours, they are welcome to judge you, but they are not entitled to threaten you.

Besides, their assertion that "if you love your dog, you will keep him inside" is bizarre. Dogs shouldn't be exclusively kept inside, they should be allowed outside to run around and smell smells and be dogs.

As someone who has lived in an apartment overlooking someone else's patio, please clean up the messes every day, though. It's not so nice to see, and it attracts flies.
posted by desuetude at 9:51 PM on October 20, 2011 [8 favorites]

Keep the letters so you can show them to the police when you make your harassment complaint, which you will likely need to do.
posted by twblalock at 9:56 PM on October 20, 2011 [6 favorites]

Another be polite, honest and direct with the management on this vote.

This could be somebody who got up on the wrong side of bed or had that kind of day, but my bet is that someone calling security at 10 pm because a dog barked for less than a minute is probably not unknown to the apartment management. (Or maybe they're brand new and are busy making friends and influencing people.)

In your shoes, I would talk to other dog owners and see if they have encountered the same nonsense. If your experience is not unique, and I'm betting it isn't, be prepared to point that out to the management should this happen again.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:56 PM on October 20, 2011

This is a bit of a tangent, but I wonder if this is not just about the noise, but the poop?

I can sort of see someone being annoyed about dog mess in your yard, but not saying anything because it's your yard, and then the barking tipping them over the edge into complaining. If they've been simmering for a while, that might explain the seemingly over-the-top reaction.

FWIW, a couple of days is, in my opinion, a couple of days too long to leave dog droppings. As desuetude notes, it can smell and attract flies. This will not be improving neighbourly relations.

Just a thought.
posted by t0astie at 10:10 PM on October 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

You've gotten heaps of great advice above!

- It seems clear you need to make some sort of written rebuttal to management, keep it SHORT, sweet, and professional. No apologizing!

- Yes your rebuttal should mention an anonymous note was tacked to your door. Do not comment about the comments of the note. Do include date and time received. Mention you attached a copy of that letter, and then attach a photocopy. Keep the original and any more that turn up.

The letter is crazed-pants and will speak for you once management reads it.

- Tread lightly in your dealings with management. Crazee Pants could be their relative or friend. (I'm hoping they only know CP as the resident busy-body-complainer. But just in case, yes?)

- Pick up every day.

- Keep the letters, but ignore them.


The less satisfaction (attention) you give this person, the sooner they will move on to harassing someone else.
posted by jbenben at 10:12 PM on October 20, 2011

t0astie makes a good point.

Maybe this neighbor thought the dog was abandoned outside because of the poop build up? Seeing lots of feces around could give someone the wrong impression. Certain "animal people" take that sort of stuff very seriously.

Perhaps this is the case of an overzealous "animal lover" reading the clues wrong and getting themselves all worked up?
posted by jbenben at 10:20 PM on October 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Every couple of days is an entirely reasonable amount of time to clean up dog crap. They only go once or twice a day and it's a puppy so it's not like there's gigantic piles of dog shit everywhere. And it shouldn't smell in the cold. Your neighbor is being weird.

We had a neighbor like this once and it turned out she was afraid the dog would hurt her cats. I pointed out that the dog was in our yard and she was like yeah, I'm afraid it'll hurt my cats when they're in your yard. Argh! There is no reasoning with some people.
posted by fshgrl at 11:02 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hopefully, they do call Animal Control. Then Animal Control can explain to them that it's totally normal and okay for dogs to be outside in the winter, all winter long.
posted by BurnChao at 11:15 PM on October 20, 2011

1. This isn't about the barking. It seems clear to me, piecing together the crazypants reasoning, that it's about leaving the dog outside. The neighbor has observed this more than once and overreacted to it. They then plotted all the ways they could possibly exert power over you, and aha! The lightbulb went off that a noise complaint could get your attention. The "noise complaint" was merely a tangential ruse used by crazypants neighbor and is not the real issue. Similarly, I don't think scooping poops matters much except tangentially. This is about one thing: dog outside.

2. The wording of that note is not normal. It made all of my alarm bells for crazypants entitled people go off. Concerned people might leave a note, okay. But 90% of everyone would hedge with nicer words, with "maybe I'm mistakens" and without that tone of authority. Because they'd be a little afraid. I'm getting a picture of a cranky narcissistic loner with a persecution complex, firmly convinced of their own righteousness. These people are dangerous loons, by and large. Be careful.

3. I would explain the situation. It's good to get your point of view out there for future reference. Go to the office, IN PERSON, and ask to speak to a manager. Bring the note that was left on your door and ask who was complaining because you're confused. Don't be angry, allow your bewilderment to show. Make a good impression of a nice, confused, hapless person just trying to understand what they did wrong. This will win you sympathy points. Remember, the office manager knows everyone, and if I'm correct about crazypants, office manager will know exactly how difficult this person is. Once they see your nice bewildered self in person and harken back to their knowledge of crazypants, they'll likely put two and two together and come down on your side.

4. MAYBE consider leaving a note for crazypants. I'm 50/50 on this. IT MUST NOT BE ANTAGONISTIC AT ALL. NO ESCALATING. Just something very bland, very nice, "I'm sorry for the confusion. We do care for our dog, and we're careful not to let her out for too long, but she enjoys being outside for short periods. I understand your concern." Okay, word it better than that, but you get the idea for the tone- practical, apologetic, no more troublemaking than is necessary. Of course, if you have any doubt about doing this, don't. Crazypants is probably better off ignored.

5. Save all notes and document everything.

6. Seriously consider taking the dog for walks instead of letting it out on the patio. Life is too short.
posted by Nixy at 12:17 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

Communicate with management (not the crazy person) and SAVE EVERYTHING, including originals of the notes (they'll keep writing) and any responses you get from management and/or animal control later on. I would also try, via management if possible, to find out if you are the only one these neighbors are harassing - there may be others in the building or visible from their windows, getting letters about their pets, cars, or children.

If this escalates, I would move as quickly as possible to turn this into a harassment complaint against the neighbor, first by addressing it to management, and then by following up with any outside authorities the neighbors involve.

Harassing, controlling, crazy people can be dangerous to you in the long run - if this person is being this intrusive about a dog, how will they react if, some time in the future, you or someone else they can see from their windows brings home a baby? This situation is frightening enough, but how scary would a "I can hear your baby crying, I'm concerned you're abusing your child, and if I hear that baby crying again, I will call CPS" letter be? By following up now, you can stop that escalation from happening (if it hasn't already) for you or someone else.
posted by Wylla at 1:54 AM on October 21, 2011

There's an issue somewhere and maybe the neighbor is just being very passive aggressive about it. Is there anyway you could speak in person to get to the bottom of it? Maybe they are concerned because you are not walking the dog but just letting it outside 'unsupervised'. Puppies have a lot of energy and dogs like to go for walks- maybe your neighbor is concerned about this. This may only answer the question obliquely but it's something to consider- not just 'how do we deal with our crazy neighbor'.
posted by bquarters at 2:16 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

if you live anywhere near anything resembling a metropolitan area, you are quite likely to find that animal control is NEVER going to send someone out about a dog in a yard. 600 dogs locked up in tiny cages and the smell of rotting animal carcasses wafting over to the local kindergarden? MAYBE. at least that's the impression i've gotten from los angeles animal control when trying to get them to do something about the 500,000 feral cats in my neighborhood and the crazy animal-hoarder old bat who feeds them. (do i sound bitter? well, that's because i almost died this summer, trapped in the beams in my attic for hours (cell phone downstairs, d'oh) while trying to remove 2(!) litters of stray kittens) *sigh*
like everyone has said: ignore the crazy.
however, if you live in an area rural and financially stable enough to have an animal control department that, y'know, WORKS for a living, try giving them a call first. in fact, they probably have some REALLY good advice for dealing with crazy, pet-hating neighbors, since they're probably responsible for most of the calls they recieve.
posted by sexyrobot at 2:44 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would not put any sort of response to the anonymous letter on your door. Their letter does not deserve to be dignified with a direct response. It won't change their mind but it'll piss them off and confirm in their minds that you're the bad guys.

However, I would definitely write a calm, reasonable - and genuinely puzzled rebuttal to the note you received. Then I'd make a point of talking to someone as well - as high up as you can get, the property manager, whoever you spoke to when you signed your lease, that person. Consider seeking out the security guard for a short chat too, for a non-confrontational moment to explain what's going on from your side; if you're more reasonable than the anonymous neighbors, that could help. They have a lot more direct contact with tenants and their opinion is going to carry more weight with the property managers.

Another thing I'd do is start keeping track of when you put the dog out, how long he's out, if he barked, what your response is. Not forever, but for a while, so you can say, "look, we got this crazy note, we wanted to have something to show just how off-base their accusations are". Taking the dog out for a walk in the morning and evening instead of letting it out is a good idea, as is daily poop patrol for a while; you want to be able to be seen as the good dog owners you are, so going to a little trouble to highlight that can only help you in the long run.

sexyrobot's idea of a preemptive call to animal control is a good one as well.
posted by lemniskate at 4:29 AM on October 21, 2011

Are you home all day long? Is there a possibility that your dog barks a lot (while in the house) when you're away?
posted by xingcat at 4:46 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]

The message you need to convey to apartment management, in a very polite and reasonable manner, is "whoever this anonymous person is is not stable; their complaints are irrational and I am concerned that they will escalate this further."

Unfortunately some people love to make life unpleasant for people with dogs, and other people like to kowtow to the person who complains most loudly.

By getting front and center in this situation, assertively but politely, and staying on-message about yourself being the stable/sane one, you can most likely manage this to a satisfactory resolution.
posted by jayder at 6:11 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Agreeing with jayder and being a little more explicit:

The last thing that you want, in this situation, is for this to become a dispute between you and another neighbor. Any kind of response to the anonymous letter writer (even notes on your door or notes in a common area) is going to start this on the path towards a dispute, and at that point the manager can step back and say, "This isn't my responsibility, work it out between yourselves or I can evict both of you." Obviously that's not a desirable end-goal, because from your perspective there's nothing to work out. You are (I hope) lawfully caring for a pet in your domicile. You are being targeted for no reason and you will not tolerate harassment (and yes, unwarranted noise complaints are a form of harassment).
posted by muddgirl at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

How about a doggy door?

I think cutting a hole in a sliding glass patio door would make the apartment management a bit testy.

You could get something like this; when I was living with my sister's dog he would be in and out of the apartment all day with one of these things. I don't think it'll fix the crazy in any way, but it's a pretty convenient and it covers your ass a bit more if this escalates.

If you're planning to stay in the complex over the long term, do you think that management would allow you to move to another part of it? It may save you an unnecessary hassle (which would make the inconvenience of moving worthwhile for me) even though none of this is your fault.
posted by _cave at 8:15 AM on October 21, 2011

Response by poster: Good news: My wife went to the apartment office this morning and spoke with the property manager. She made it unequivocally clear that the neighbor's claims were false, and she showed him the anonymous letter. He was sympathetic, and disturbed by the letter ("they shouldn't be taking matters into their own hands," he said). He knows who the complainant is and is going to deal with that person directly.

My wife also wanted to post a response letter like some of you suggested. The manager talked her out of that idea and assured her that he'd take care of this mess. No need to worry about it further. That's some good management! At this point my only remaining concern is that the neighbor could still go to animal services, but I think we now have an ally at the apartment office who can vouch for us if needed.

You all raised some good points about the frequency of the clean-up. Point well taken, and I'm going to try to take care of that more often. It does get a bit stinky and attracts some flies. Nothing egregious, but there's room for improvement and we want to be observably blameless here.

I like the idea of the doggy door insert for sliding glass doors. I'd never seen those before. My two concerns are... can you still open and close the door for people to go through easily? And can you lock it securely? If so, we might consider picking one up.

We're not staying in the apartment long-term. When our 1-year lease ends in April we're planning to move cross-country. So we can't justify moving to another unit in this complex to get away from the busybody. Our short time here also makes me think twice about that doggy door, since I have no idea if we'd still have a use for it in our next home.

Thanks again, everybody. I was really perturbed when I wrote this last night, but it's a huge weight off my shoulders that it's being resolved so favorably. Thanks in large part to the wise words my wife and I read in this thread before acting. :-)
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 8:44 AM on October 21, 2011

I like the idea of the doggy door insert for sliding glass doors. I'd never seen those before. My two concerns are... can you still open and close the door for people to go through easily? And can you lock it securely? If so, we might consider picking one up.

We have one on our sliding glass door for our pets. Yes, it can be locked securely. The side against the wall locks into place where the sliding door used to, and then the sliding door locks into a corresponding notch in the insert.

Yes, you can still open and close the door, although the space to walk through is decreased by exactly the width of the insert. For a normal sized sliding door there is still plenty of room for a person to fit through, although it can be a little tight for carrying things like patio furniture through.

The downside: Once you have the insert in place, the door no longer seals anywhere close to airtight. It *will* be drafty, both around the doggy door flap itself, but more significantly in the gap between the two glass doors. Normally when you slide the glass door shut, the two glass panes seal in the middle section (you can see what I mean if you look at it), but with the insert in place that seal never engages. That leaves you with a draft analogous to leaving a window cracked open by a half inch. We live in Florida, so it's not really a big deal for us since it never gets really cold (although I am sure our AC efficiency in the summer is significantly impacted). If you are in a region where it gets genuinely cold, it may become an issue for you.
posted by Lokheed at 9:02 AM on October 21, 2011

I appreciate that it's a lot easier to just let the dog out and watch from inside, but you would be in a much more defensible position, and there would be much less possibility for unfortunate misunderstandings, if you were to walk the dog on a leash. This is a sensible precaution when you're living in close proximity to so many other people, some of whom are a little nutso. What if, heaven forfend, someone lets their toddler out at the same time as your dog, and the toddler pokes your dog in the eye and the dog bites? or what if the neighbor is far enough over the edge to leave a tasty tainted treat for your doggy? You'd feel just awful, and you'd have a bigger mess than dog poo to deal with. It seems that life would be a lot easier for the next year if you take the trouble to go out with the dog. And maybe you'll meet some nice neighbors!
posted by Corvid at 1:42 PM on October 21, 2011

I haven't read *all the replies here, but were it me, I'd immediately go to the property management with your neighbor's letter in hand. You've done nothing wrong and are even extremely attentive to your dog's needs. Explain to them that you have no intentions of communicating with such unreasonable and likely unstable people and you hope that they can address this issue before it becomes a bigger problem than it ever needs to be.

What ever happened to live and let live? Good luck!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 1:44 PM on October 21, 2011

*I'm glad your apartment manager is being helpful.

*I used to have one of those sliding-door inserts; it was great. (however, my dog was perfectly happy to go hang outside in the rain, so the carpets suffered a bit, despite various mats placed inside the door).

*I am slightly unsettled by the last line in that anonymous note "If you love your dog, you will keep him or her inside". I don't know just how crazy your Crazy Neighbor is, but maybe keep an extra close eye on the puppy if/when she's on the patio...make sure there's nothing unexpected out there for her to eat, etc.
posted by maryrussell at 2:04 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Corvid- the OP states several times that its a private patio. They are doing nothing wrong in letting the dog out there.
posted by fshgrl at 4:58 PM on October 21, 2011

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