Save the Dog
April 27, 2008 6:07 PM   Subscribe

What's a good way (read: low-hassle) to prove the whereabouts of my dog?

I live in an apartment with my old dog. We're there only four nights a week, and on those nights, I'm home for good before 10pm.

My upstairs neighbor is complaining to the manager that my dog is barking every night, all night. I've tried to assure them she has the wrong dog because (a) we're not even there many nights, and (b) when we are there, my dog is sleeping right next to me, and I would know if she were barking all night.

In fact, the first complaint claimed the dog was barking all weekend. We weren't even there.

The neighbor has made three complaints so I'm about to be told I can't have the dog in the apartment anymore.

So, my dog will stay at my girfriend's for a while. I suspect more complaints will come in during this time, and I want to be able to prove my dog wasn't even in the same city. What can I do to prove the whereabouts of my dog, to demonstate definitely that either my neighbor is nuts, or has the wrong dog?
posted by king walnut to Human Relations (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have your girlfriend take a video/photos with a city landmark, the dog, and the time/date (such as in a bank sign, etc.) all visible at the same time.
posted by suedehead at 6:10 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could buy a GPS system for the dog. Maybe there is a way to record the locations at specific interval.
posted by McSly at 6:20 PM on April 27, 2008

My low-tech solution: are you at all on speaking terms with your neighbor? If so, why not tell him/her that you're leaving with the dog for a weekend at your girlfriend's, and ask him/her to keep an ear out for barking. If the neighbor hears barking, he/she'll know it isn't your dog, and will (maybe?) start complaining about a different unit. Then again, if you're neighbor is crazy or hates your dog for some reason, I guess this wouldn't work.
posted by Meg_Murry at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2008

Tell your landlord of the plan. Invite him/her to stop by at any point during that span of days to spot-check, offer any other proof (s)he might want.

Telling your landlord before the fact gives you a little more credibility than just saying "My dog wasn't even there!" after there are complaints, especially if you know the complaints are coming.

You might also consider having a frank discussion with this neighbor and maybe one with an attorney to see what your options might be with respect to your less-than-honest neighbor.
posted by toomuchpete at 6:35 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is your dog chipped? If so, your girlfriend could take him to a vet or shelter or humane society, and tape the chip being read by a neutral third party. Most places with chip readers will read a stray for free - not sure about a situation like this, although I suspect most would be accommodating if they aren't busy.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:36 PM on April 27, 2008

Response by poster: My girlfriend is in San Antonio. If only the Alamo had a time & temperature (and date) display...
posted by king walnut at 6:36 PM on April 27, 2008

Yeah on second thoughts, before buying anything, do what Meg_Murry said. Give your neighbor your schedule in advance. Talk to him and send him a note every time your leave.
posted by McSly at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2008

Response by poster: I have discussed this with my neighbor. She clearly doesn't believe me, or is being malicious. There are some people--and I believe she's probably one of them--who are more interested in "winning" than in peaceful resolution. I don't know, but suspect, that at this point she really does know my dog is innocent, but she's gone too far down this path and isn't going to give in now.
posted by king walnut at 6:50 PM on April 27, 2008

Tell your neighbor the dog will be gone for the week. Tell your manager that the dog will really be gone for two weeks. If the manager gets complaints in one week then they'll know the neighbor's judgement isn't entirely trustworthy?
posted by moonshine at 6:57 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

I know this would cost money and be a pain, but I would put the dog in a kennel for a few days, you would then have a receipt and the word of neutral third party that your dog wasn't at the apartment. I would try and get your landlord in on it, like have his call her up after two days to just follow up on if the dog is still barking and when she says yes, you've got her.
posted by whoaali at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Proof-of-life style: photo of dog with front page of newspaper clearly visible.
posted by trinity8-director at 7:56 PM on April 27, 2008

So you've never heard the dog that is barking? How big is this apt complex, and what are the floors/walls made out of?

Can your adjacent neighbors corroborate the lack of barking from your flat?
posted by popechunk at 8:13 PM on April 27, 2008

Ohh. Dog kennel! That's better than my idea. Which was if the dog was going to be staying near a police station or a JP type person (pharmacist ect.) you could get a respectable independant third party to sight the dog everyday and sign something indicates this and confirm this if contacted. Or maybe the landlord for that place might be able to help out? But the dog kennel idea is a good one!

Is there even a dog barking at all...? Is this lady crazy or just mistaken?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 8:19 PM on April 27, 2008

Newspaper only works to prove that the picture was taken on or after that date.
I would second toomuchpete's suggestion to tell the manager what you are going to do ahead of time. In addiition to inviting him to stop by and check, you could also send him email photos of the dog in Texas - if he receives at the same time you said the dog is gone, it should be credible.
posted by metahawk at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2008

Oh sorry I sort of totally ignored the "low hassle" aspect of your question.
posted by whoaali at 8:35 PM on April 27, 2008

Ask your manager to call by when he gets a compaint and check for himself (and of
course to tell the neighbour to phone as soon as she hears the ghost dog). Offer to pay for his time, since it's likely going to be out of office hours.

Everyone wins.

If your neighbour knows he will call by, she might be far less likely to make the spurious complaints, and offering to pay for the call-out by the manager should really prove your willingness to prove your dogs innocence.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:43 PM on April 27, 2008

Also, love the GPS idea just as a general fun thing to do. You can pick up a far cheaper one from here though. It's only fifty bucks.
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:45 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agree with suedehead's suggestion of having your girlfriend document your dog's presence as much as possible with a camera and/or camcorder that offers a date/time stamp.

Next, draft a statement for your girlfriend to sign, stating her name, residence, and everything she did with the dog, including each specific date and time recorded by the camera/camcorder. Something along the lines of "I, Jane Doe, citizen of ___ and resident of ___, declare that King Walnut's dog was physically present with me at such and such date/time, and at such and such location.

Take the statement and your girlfriend to a licensed notary public, have both of them sign it, and get it notarized.

None of the above is legal advice, and I am not a lawyer. But I do love dogs, and despise those who villanize them.
posted by invisible ink at 11:41 PM on April 27, 2008

Another suggestion: contact your local animal shelter or humane society, and ask them for advice. They know how to recognize a good pet owner when they see one, and would certainly not want some malignant neighbor to get in the way of a dog's chance at a happy home.
posted by invisible ink at 11:41 PM on April 27, 2008

Response by poster: My dog is quite old, overly coddled her whole life, never kennelled. She'd be traumatized if I put her in a kennel now. But if not for these facts, the kennel idea is probably the best.

I like moonshine's idea of telling the neighbor about only one week of a two-week absence, but I think there's a chance the manager would inform the neighbor of the two weeks. You see, the neighbor has been doing the complaining and I've been doing the denying, so as unfair as it is, the manager is in a sense on the neighbor's side, or at least that's the way it feels.

We considered an affidavit before submitting the question to AskMe. Thanks, ink, for the suggestion.

I think I'll try the combo of moonshine's idea and the affidavit.
posted by king walnut at 12:04 AM on April 28, 2008

You could do trinity8-director's suggestion of photos with a newspaper every day and then have your girlfriend mail them to you daily. Don't open the letters with photos until you need to provide proof of the dog's whereabouts. The date stamp from the post office will be your proof.
posted by lunaazul at 2:49 AM on April 28, 2008

Your comment about your neighbor wanting to "win" makes me wonder if she wants you gone for some reason, so she makes up a story about your dog barking. That would explain why she won't back down with her story.
posted by Rykey at 4:34 AM on April 28, 2008

I'm not sure how you can take a picture of a dog not barking at 3am in such a manner that someone who already thinks you're liar would take it at face value. Time-stamps on videos and digital images are not widely considered to be indisputable evidence of anything these days.

I don't see what value is added by the Notary Public. Why would the landlord doubt that your girlfriend was the one who signed the paper? From the landlord's perspective, you and your girlfriend are the same person. She's not a disinterested third party, so I'm not sure why the landlord would take her word over yours.

If there is a barking dog in your building, I assure you that there are some tenants who know EXACTLY where it is, because they live next to it. Find them.

Also ask the tenants on either side of you if they ever hear a barking dog. If they don't, and one of them seems sane, you could give one of them a key and ask them to water your plants while you're out of the apartment 3 days a week (offer to do the same for them). Any future dispute with the landlord re specific days of barking can be met with, "Look, my immediate nieghbor Sam hears no barking, and can attest to the fact that my apartment is empty on the days in question, because he collects my mail/waters my plants."
posted by popechunk at 6:03 AM on April 28, 2008

I agree with popechunk: your other neighbors are your best bet. You need them on your side to tell your landlord either that there's no dog barking, or that the dog isn't yours.

One more idea: if somehow you know in advance when your neighbor is going to complain, and you're on good enough terms with your landlord, ask the landlord to keep the dog for the night. If the neighbor complains, and YOUR dog is laying in the landlord's living room, that would be pretty good evidence. Obviously, circumstances and relationships would have to be right for this last idea to work.
posted by crazylegs at 6:19 AM on April 28, 2008

posted by Ironmouth at 7:54 AM on April 28, 2008

Best answer: Dog-friendly hotel/motel/B&B for one night? That would provide you an objective 3rd party to say you and your dog were definitely there but he won't be subjected to a kennel.

You/your girlfriend take a quick photo with the hotel clerk and the dog, to prove that it's your dog and not a random dog. That would confirm the location, the hotel clerk could confirm the time and date.

Aim for one that is far enough away that it's implausible that you would return to your apt--the further away the hotel is from your home, the better.
posted by sondrialiac at 9:56 AM on April 28, 2008

Apparently Motel 6s are pet friendly...although I'd call to confirm
posted by sondrialiac at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2008

haha, a picture of your dog with the city newspaper!
posted by hulahulagirl at 7:40 PM on April 28, 2008

I think you may be thinking about this a bit wrong. You don't have to prove the whereabouts of your dog, just that there is no sound coming from your apartment.

Get an answering machine with a room monitor. Make sure the landlord can call the machine and active the monitor. When your neighbor complains, the landlord can call and check for him/herself. A few false positive complains and you'll be in the clear.
posted by sexymofo at 8:21 PM on April 28, 2008

If your landlord is already predisposed to think you're lying, nothing you or your girlfriend can do is really going to solve the problem. Neither will an affidavit. Nor will a notary.

Think about it. An affidavit brings nothing to the table. If the landlord thinks you're lying, he'll think your gf is lying, and will probably think she'd be willing to put her lies in writing. The notary isn't there to determine the truth of the statement, only to confirm that the statement was made at a certain date and time, and by a certain person.

The most reliable, fool-proof idea, as suggested above, is for the GF to take pictures of herself with the daily newspaper with the dog. Print and mail them the very same day (certified, if possible). This will provide both boundaries for the date on the photo... it must be at least May X because the paper has been printed, and it must be no later than May X because that's the day it was mailed. Do not, under any circumstances, open them until you are ready to "prove" your case, and you should let the landlord open them. And only show one at a time... if he gets a complaint for May 10th, bring in the may 10th letter.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:07 PM on April 29, 2008

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