Many thanks, friends! I appreciate your concern. It seems that many of you totally identify and empathize with this particular problem. I've come down a bit from my tree. Yesterday was tough, but I was calmer by the time David got home. The dogs stopped barking as much after lunch, and they barked on and off in the evening, but last night, we didn't hear a peep out of them after 8:30 p.m. They were quiet all night, right up until 7:45 this morning. Then I heard one barking spurt, and nothing after that. It seems to be MUCH better today.
Before yesterday, they'd been in their pen pretty much the whole time these neighbors have lived here. They'd barked a lot there at first, and then they calmed down some. I am hoping that the night before last and yesterday were just them learning how to adjust to their larger yard. When Seth and I got home from Bible study, they didn't bark at us. They didn't bark when David left to go to work this morning. Maybe this is going to work out after all (crossing fingers).
Yesterday, while they were barking, I was doing my devotions in our extra bedroom right next to their pen. I was stressed from the barking, and I was feeling pretty hateful. Then I read this:
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galations 6:7-10
Man, was I convicted. I wanted to sow some angry words, lemme tell ya. But God gently reminded me that it would probably only yield me a harvest of angry words back. Doing good felt like a really wearisome thing to do. But I have a responsibility to do good to my neighbors, since they do seem to be a part of the "all people" mentioned above. =) This is a good opportunity for me to try my best to turn the other cheek, though I don't think it would be out of line to talk to them about it if the barking continues.
So I tried to take this to heart and to pray about it. I tried to calm down and relax and not worry and not despair. God has been good to let them stop barking so much, and I am thankful. But I want to be less stressed about it even if the barking starts up again. I don't want to be quick to jump in and go over there without giving God a chance to fix the situation first.
We did get a really good suggestion, though. Our buddy, Drew, wrote and suggested that we buy a dog whistle. Whenever they bark by our window, we could blow it, hurt their ears, and discipline them that way. And nobody would ever have to know... Drew, we may just take your advice. =) We'll let you know if we do... Or we are willing to take donations for this. =)