There is nothing like dogs barking at night to really get under your skin. It’s 5am in Jamaica, and I’ve given up on sleep once again, because of the racket outside. Our neighbours at the front of the house have five dogs in their yard, including two Labradors and an Alsation. Across the road at the back of the house, is a large empty property where two crazy, unkempt and toally bored dogs bark all night at anything, and occasionally get out. Once they are out, they chase cars roun the block barking their heads off, and setting off every dog in the neighbourhood – including the pack right next to us.
Presumably, as it all goes on for hours, the owners don’t hear the din. The enormous property at the front of our house, recently changed hands for over a million US, which means the owners can afford to keep the AC on all night and to keep every window in their massive house shut. They seem like a friendly family, but when I’ve asked if there was any chance they could lock up their dogs on the other side of the house at night, they look at me like a crazy person. They don’t see the barking as a problem, firstly; they don’t ever hear it, and secondly; the barking is exactly the reason why they have the dogs in the first place, a non-stop warning to potential burglars to keep out.
The two Labradors belonged to the family who lived there before, and when I heard they were selling the place and moving on, I was so delighted – until I found out they were leaving ‘Lucky’ and ‘Lucy’ behind, and the new owners had another 3 dogs on top of that!
As for the property across the road, after months of sleeplessness, I finally got a number of the guy who owns the property; Mr Lopez. I rang his receptionsist, and she was courteous enough, and surprised to hear that the dogs can get under the fence and out onto the road. I described how domestic staff walking to work around Earls Court are terrified of them, as the dogs run up at them barking. She said she would look into how they were getting out (but hasn’t), but there was nothing to be done about the barking at night, this is Jamaica, and that is what guard dogs do!
So, what’s the next step? I’ve thought about making a police report, but the idea of going down to the station in Grants Pen doesn’t really appeal, I can imagine they would laugh at me, then bury my complaint in paperwork while they got on with all the serious crime they have to deal with.
The violence of my anger shocks me. Literally I feel my blood boiling as I hear them howling and barking away, knowing that all that noise is for nothing! They bark at cats, at the breeze, cars passing on the road, at each other. And how would anyone know if there ever was intruder anyway? They couldn’t bark any louder..
I could record the racket on my phone, make a log of all the times when the barking is out of control, then I’d have more of a case to put forward.
But the sad fact is, being surrounded by dogs that bark all night is considered completely normal in Jamaica. Even if we moved, I’d probably face the same problem in the next place. No one expects peace and quiet. And sadly, that means not a lot of sleep for me.
Why don’t we shut our windows and put on the AC? Like the dogs’ owners do? They are all sound asleep under the reassuring whirr of their AC machines, and clearly don’t hear a thing.
Leaving on the AC all night is a huge and unecessary expense, not to mention bad for the environment and plays havoc with your sinuses. And, once you have the windows open and your fan on, there’s always a cool enough breeze in Kingston even in the middle of summer. Should it cost us more than 300 US a month, just to shut out the barking?
If you are an expat moving to Jamaica, find out about the dogs in the vicinity of any property you are looking at. Take an evening stroll round the block and see how many dogs you can set off just by wandering about..