For a few extra bucks a month, the apartments where I live provide a special opportunity for the residents; they can have pets.
OK, no goats, chickens, dwarf horses or pot belly pigs, but cats and dogs are absolutely fine. When I moved in about a year ago, I marveled at how quiet the place was from both the neighbors and their pets.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it behooves me to tell you that the general quietness was often broken during storms or when the Pirates hit a homerun or won a game. Only two blocks away, the fireworks would be unleashed, and several of the dogs would literally flip out and bark endlessly for the entire barrage. Let’s be honest, though, unless you have been living in a cave for the past 18 years, you know that there haven’t been too many sky rockets launched because of Pirate homeruns or wins.
It was about three months ago, though, when my life changed significantly. My young neighbors upstairs decided to buy their second dog, a tiny little chocolate lab puppy. The first time that I saw him, he was running beside his adopted mom and refused to move forward until he had a chance to meet me, be petted behind the ears, and share a lick or two. He was delightful.
Of course the world is not perfect, and this little cocoa puff did not like being without his mom. Even though there was another dog living with him, as soon as his mom would close the door in the morning until she came home that night he would cry and bark and whine relentlessly. His mental anguish seemed so overwhelming that my heart nearly broke for him, but, short of drilling a hole through my ceiling, he was not part of my physical world. Some days he would cry nonstop for eight to nine hours.
Of course you know that the recipient of this puppy crying chorus was moi, me, the guy downstairs. I’m a dog lover, but when a puppy cries for the better part of a day or night (depending on when mom and dad were at work), HOLY COW!
There were literally hours where I pretended not to notice the puppy. I’d listen to my IPod, use earplugs, and duct tape pillows to my head. I tried loud humming, tap dancing and hiding under the bed. I’d even experimented with stereophonic telephone conversations and once put caramel popcorn in my ears. It was a nightmare. Finally, I gave up and, not unlike the nurses in the baby nursery, got used to hearing this baby dog cry.
Ironically, while dragging two suitcases and a suit bag to the car the other day, I ran into mom and pup. He had virtually doubled in size in two weeks, but still insisted on waiting to see me before he would agree to go down to the grass plot below. His mom, a petite 20-something dressed in operating room scrubs began to apologize profusely to me about his persistent crying. Then she said in an almost matter-of-fact way, “Oh, well, our lease is up in two weeks, and we’ll be moving.”
In a strange way, I was a little bit sad. In my mind, I had helped the little guy make it through, sat up with him during the night and now he was leaving. Darnit!
I’m sure the new neighbors will have a cat.
(Nick Jacobs, Windber, international director for SunStone Consulting, LLC is the author of the blog Healinghospitals.com.)