Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How To Silence Your Neighbor's Yappin Dogs

In 2008, before they were foreclosed upon, our neighbor to the south of our home - whose house is all of 8 feet from our house on these 1/10th acre Phoenix plots - had 2 fully grown pit bulls. The pit bulls used to bark incessantly, deeply, loudly. I used to climb my 10ft ladder, and watch sunsets from the roof of my patio from time to time, looking out over the western bordering roofs of the 2 story neighbors, and occasionally YELL LOUDLY "cerrar la boca, maldita sea!" (they belonged to a Mexican lady) - usually the pit bulls listened, when they saw me on the roof, and cowered at the far end of their yard. Then, last year, they moved out when the owner walked away from the underwater mortgage. We were finally able to enjoy our backyard, without an annoying barking dog on the other side of the 6 foot wall separating us.

Then, in 2009, renters moved into the adjacent property to our north, and they had a poorly trained pit bull that barked incessantly. We could hear it through our bed room wall. Luckily, that renter left after 3 months (a common Phoenix trend amongst rent jumpers).

In April of 2009, the southern adjacent property (former home of pit bulls who understood Spanish commands) was purchased in a short sale. A few months later, our new neighbor brought in his 2 tiny dogs - one is some kind of Chihuahua and the other is a Jack Russell Terrier mix. Gyure's doggy energy theory holding true, these tiny dogs were yappers. Interestingly, though Dr Desert Flower could hardly ever hear the deep low pit bull barks, these little yappers drove her nuts. As our southern adjacent neighbor lives there only some weekends, and in North Central AZ other weekends, the little yappin dogs were an intermittent nuance. With the large number of feral cats in our neighborhood patrolling the property dividing walls, evenings this month became full of barking - loud enough to hear over the television.

But Dr Desert Flower is a very resourceful woman, and when something annoys her, she takes action. Last Friday night, she started searching for a solution that leveraged modern technology. Saturday morning, we found this "bird house" model of an outdoor back control device, from PetSafe, on the Petsmart website - we like Petsmart, and find it has a wider variety of items than Petco or other pet-related retailers near us. We Could Have ordered it from Amazon, but then if it didn't work, returning it is a pain in the neck. Some customers loved this device, and some hated it. We talked to the manager at Petsmart Saturday afternoon, and for $70 we took one home that day. The manager warned that for some dogs it works great, and for others, it doesn't work at all - just angers them more.

The Petsafe birdhouse model (UPC 2984911216, Radio Systems Corporation, Knoxville TN; US patent 5,724,919; assembled in China from US components) runs on a 9 volt battery, and has an adjustable range, 50 feet max. It's water proof. The installation guide states strictly that it should not be mounted more than 5 feet from the ground. The property walls are 6 feet tall in Phoenix, so I exceeded that by about 18 inches, as I mounted it on a tree pointing downward slightly, into the yappin dogs' yard to the south. The microphone hears the bark (or other loud decibel stimulus) and emits a strong ultrasonic PULSE. I can almost hear it - I used to work in an audio speaker manufacturing facility that used ultrasonic welders. Hearing the ultrasonic welders always made my teeth hurt and gave me a "C-clamp across my temporal lobes" kind of head ache. This 9V powered unit just makes me wince a little, but causes no headache like the speaker factory used to do years ago.
So I mounted the device, cranked it up to "MAX", and hoped for the best. Within the hour, the little yappin dogs were let out into their yard. From inside my home, I heard "RUFFFFF-yipe!" ... and a long pause. A few minutes later "RUFF-yipe!" ...and then blissful silence. It Worked!

Sunday came and went without any barking. I even grilled chicken wings whiling watching the New Orleans Saints drive my least favorite Quarterback into the ground repeatedly as they defeated the Minnesota Vikings (I had it on DVR to watch the ex Packer getting knocked down repeatedly). The grill is 5 feet from the bark control bird house, and using it normally prompts a barrage of barking from the neighbor's yard.

So Dr Desert Flower and I are delighted that we've reclaimed our back yard from the annoyance of nuisance barking, and it worked the first time. I'm going to run my old smoke detector & CO detector batteries through it, to drain the last vestiges of residual power in each - it's good to change out all the detectors when one starts beeping, so I have 1/2 a dozen on hand at any time.


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