Our house has a mixed blessing: a very large floor-to-ceiling front window. This window lets in wonderful light, and when my in-laws built this house over fifty years ago, that was exactly what they had in mind. I imagine they envisioned sunlight flooding through the window on sunny days, and the glare from snow masquerading as sunlight flooding in during the more miserable Chicago months. As the window was huge, thus we used to regularly hire Commercial window cleaning company to get it cleaned thoroughly. (I don’t use the “W” word from April through October.) Fifty plus years later, this same window has evolved into my nemesis.
In the early days of Camp Run-A-Pup, it was charming to see our campers sitting in the window as we went to and fro. Mak would sit on the ottoman, Skippy would curl up on the couch arm, peering out the window. Scooby stretched out on a duvet dog bed chewing happily on a deer antler. Soon, other campers would join them and they would all find places to enjoy looking out the window, watching the comings and goings of our neighborhood. Looking in the window from the outside often caused me to think, “Wow, this would make such a cute picture!”
Our neighbors must have felt the same way because soon our window became the “must see” stop on their walks. Our front lawn became the neighborhood highlight. The neighbors would look in and the pups would look out. I wondered if anyone was humming, “How much is that doggie in the window?”
Ours was a peaceable kingdom until the day our Jack Russell, Rascal, entered the picture with a strong and vocal opinion. Rascal was not going to be anyone’s window dressing. Outsiders were not allowed to look in the window. It is common dog training knowledge that it takes about … well, once for one dog to teach another dog bad habits. Soon Rascal, in the style of General Patton, made it abundantly clear that if another dog or person passed in front of the window, all campers should immediately go into attack mode. Barking, jumping, lunging, and snarling were a few of their tactics.
Our peaceable kingdom soon became a full-fledged riot scene. The neighbors would stop to “ahhh” at the window filled with what appeared to be tranquil, adorable pups – large, small, furry, not so furry. The next moment, the window would erupt and the neighbors would stay to enjoy the show: Camp Run-A-Muck. The campers would be charging the window at full steam and volume. I would come running into the room waving my magic wand, (wooden spoon) chasing pups, trying to catch them as they leaped and lunged and circled back to take another go at it. From the outside it must have looked like a scene from silent movie. I swear the ice cream man-made a fortune selling refreshments after the show.
Dearly departed, Joe managed the window situation for me when he was alive. I guess a large man with crazy hair, a beard, and a very loud voice is taken more seriously than a woman running around swinging a wooden spoon. To my credit, I did not kill Joe myself, after he announced one night while discussing the problem, “Well, you just have to tell them “settle” like you MEAN IT.” Thank you for sharing, Joe.
The next morning, I grabbed the Tribune and wallpapered the bottom row of the windows. The show was over. Some homeowners may have worried about the aesthetics, but I was more concerned about going deaf. True, newspaper wasn’t the most attractive decorating choice, but it did the job. Once we confirmed that to both our pups and our neighbors, out of sight meant out of mind, we did come up with a more attractive window dressing solution for the bottom portion of our windows.
Our days and nights are back to being peaceable! We can now sit in the living room and have a conversation without screaming over the thunderous sounds of barking dogs, and this has added to the overall quality of our family life. The ice cream man has moved on, having met his retirement goal, and our neighbors have found new forms of entertainment. Now, if we could just talk the mailman, UPS man, and Fed Ex into delivering our mail and packages again! (Although we have discovered that chasing them down the block is excellent exercise.)