The Dogs - Skillful Cook
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The Dogs

Black and white dog sleeping on a tile floor.

This post could get raw, weepy, and contemplative reeeeal quick. Consider yourselves warned.

I’m losing a mind battle with the dogs. I tried to focus myself to write about something else, like the delicious cookies that I’ve been living on for the last two weeks, or how we had a typhoon day at school, or how I got my first haircut here, but all I can think about is how I never ever want to see, touch, and especially HEAR a dog ever again.

So I guess I’m gonna tell you about the dogs now.

Dogs in the dark outside.

It’s funny how, of all the challenges here, it’s the crazy, mangy barking dogs that are killing me.

Last night I was laying awake all night because our one billion stray neighborhood dogs were, for lack of a more offensive term, barking. Did I mention that our window doesn’t close? Nope, doesn’t close. Just slats of glass layered over each other. They’re very Filipino and usually they are nice for bringing in a hot, steamy breeze. But the bad news is that they’re very open and accepting of all noises. Dance beats until 5am? Come on in. Hammering? Moving furniture? Babies crying? There is no discrimination – all sounds, any time, day or night.

I generally don’t see myself as an angry sort of person, but this constant noise, the barking all the time, all night, is! At one point last night I may or may not have literally kicked the concrete wall with my bare foot. Realllly helpful.

In my head, I’m shouting mean things at the dogs. In my body, I'm exhausted. In my face, I’m crying. And in my heart, I’m wanting to go home, and I’m missing my big fluffy white bed and my quiet neighborhood and my other life.

And then, in my deepest heart, I try to let go of those things I hold to so dearly. Like sleep, and quiet, and comfort.

Except then a single dog barks and the spell of positive thinking is broken.

Hmm. I’m not very good at this.

It’s painfully ironic that I wrote a post literally entitled “Letting Go” about six months ago, just before we left. I’m smiling as I think about it because I don’t think I knew what it would be like to actually have to give up something that was truly precious to me. Maybe I didn’t even know what was precious to me.

Refrigerated milk? My car? Not that big of a deal.

But quiet? Quiet is precious. And I’m mourning the loss of my quiet and trying to accept that this new life includes dogs. The e8uriiwo3gjdksa;kluhlak dogs and their hs;dgjal4kjsktjhl barking.

Dog in the night with a shadow.

If I can calm down for one second, I can realize that I have a home. An air conditioner keeping me cool. A blanket for me to sleep under and a mattress to lay on. And most nights, a futon to resort to when I give up on sleeping. A funny, smart, cute husband sleeping soundly through the dog barking insanity (unnnnbelievable) who will make me a coffee in the morning because he knows I’m going crazy in the head.

Guess what? These beautiful kids that I see every day?

They’ve endured more than anything that can be wrapped up in words. They don’t have a mom and dad to hold them when they’re sad or when they can’t sleep through the night or when “the dogs” of their lives become overwhelming.

And they’re still just kids.

Young girl.

And yet - I'm not just saying this - they truly radiate hope.

It pricks my heart and it challenges me.

So will I hate dog barking for the rest of time? Absolutely yes.

But tomorrow is a new day, and we can try this all over again. Thank God.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Filed Under: Living Abroad

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I don’t usually comment but I so totally felt your pain. We specifically chose a dog breed (King Charles Spaniel) that doesn’t bark because it would drive me crazy, too! Earplugs, honey, earplugs. Also a white noise machine, if you can get your family in the states to send you one, will help.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I was just going to suggest the same thing–a white noise machine. Hope you can find one, because they are the best. Turn it up high and it should drown out all other sounds. Sleep deprivation makes everything seem worse, in my opinion.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Totally! It’s like suddenly my whole life is crumbling when I can’t get a good night’s sleep. 🙂 I don’t know how new moms or people who work nights or people with chronic sleeplessness can survive!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    When we lived in Malaysia, where it’s illegal for the average Joe to own a gun, my greatest wish was for my husband to own a gun so that he could shoot the stray dogs in the parking lot across the street. Wouldn’t the world be better off without stray dogs? Yes. Yes it would. I feel your pain.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    That barking would totally drive me bonkers too. It sounds like you have an incredible way of keeping it in perspective though!
    Also, I’m in the midst of considering adopting a puppy as we speak. Mental note: look for quiet breeds.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    hmmm…if one watches children and animals (i.e. dogs), there is, in my opinion, a similarity. Inherent in both is a desire for fun, a pecking order that THEY will establish on their own, base on communal tolerances, and above all else, love. perhaps when we cannot sleep we are called to observe quietly and learn…

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hang in there you will get through it…may I recommend some ear plugs or listening to some spa type music at night? I know that I am not a fan of that either but considering the alternative it may be your best option…

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay – I usually don’t comment but really admire what you all are doing — and appreciate your updates. My first thought was noise cancelling headphones – is it possible to get a pair? I have a friend who wears them at work so he can focus amidst the noise…..

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for the comment Kel! We actually ran out to the mall the next day to get a pair but they are so huge and clunky that the one time I wore them in bed, I was so distracted and uncomfortable. Now Bjork just wears them for work during the day. That being said, I should give it another try. 🙂 It would be awesome if I could get used to wearing them because they do help shut out some of that barking.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh man. Hang in there. I’m not an angry person either, but if there’s something keeping me from sleeping, I get straight up angry. Kicking walls certainly isn’t out of the question. Like Anita said, get someone to send you a sound machine. It should help to block out some of the aggravating barking and other noises! Heck, I’ll even send you one…from one angry non-sleeper to another!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I totally feel your pain. I CANNOT sleep without peace and quiet. In college I was plagued with noisy neighbors that literally stayed up all night. That’s when I fell in love with earplugs. They literally saved me from going crazy. LOL. Hearos are the best – Another suggestion is the app “White Noise”. I have several friends who swear by it. Hope this helps!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’ll have to check it out! The only earplugs I’ve found here are like 20 cents and they are just tiny pieces of foam. Not too helpful. 🙂 Maybe these will be better!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    My husband would probably sleep through the barking too. Me, on the other hand, would be standing in your shoes. Our neighbors dogs across the street bark non-stop, but we have windows. Your post reminded me to be thankful for the little things! 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sorry about the dogs That can be iratating, even when Bernie snores . Well won’t be long and your mom will be there. At least you aren’t in the storm out east . Hope you time will be fun there. Must go time for my Bible study in the country.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Aw, thanks Grandma! You’re so right about being out of that storm! It sounds scary out there! Mom’s on her way … I can’t wait to see her! Thanks for giving her the idea for the T-shirt bag crafts! My girls are really excited to make them. Love you Grandma!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am with the peeps who suggest earplugs too. 7 years ago I moved to the heart of downtown. 7 years ago I invested in some earplugs and haven’t slept without them since. It took me a few days to get over hearing the sound of my own heartbeat and blood rushing through my head amplified with the earplugs in, but then that goes away and you are left with pure bliss.

    a few years ago they decided for 3 STRAIGHT YEARS to build a brand new apartment building right beside my house from the ground up. Every day for 3 years I swear I woke up furious because of the noise (through my earplugs). There was one point where I realized I was literally waking up angry every single day because of it. 3 years of anger is a lot of anger! LOL.

    Anyway, I digress. Ear plugs. Hopefully you can get some there, or get a loved one to send you some! And hopefully they work to block out the noise for you.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh gosh. That construction sounds like it was insane. I did get some ear plugs but I found that I was really uncomfortable wearing them. Maybe if it continues I’ll give it another go. 🙂 Thanks for the comment Torri!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through! I can’t even imagine how bad it is – I have a neighbor’s dog yapping into the night (it’s just one tiny annoying dog) and I plan on calling animal control but reading your post has made me realize that my situation is nothing compared to yours. I hope things get better soon, Lindsay!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    You did warn me it could get weepy and you were not lying! It’s amazing the difference it makes when we try to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. And then we realize our problems are nothing compared to theirs.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Funny how as I read this the tenant’s dog below me is barking its flipping head off. Urrrrrr! And my dog is doing these gentle “woofs,” because I told her to be quiet. I like the idea of noise canceling headphones. I have a white noise machine, and it works wonderfully, but it doesn’t block out the barking below me. But reading further into your post…that beautiful girl’s face! No mothers or fathers? That is incredibly sad. 🙁 I just want to wrap my arms around them and read them a good book. Sending out prayers for their well-being. (The Lord is watching over them for sure.)

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you Martha! The Lord is definitely present here – thank you for your prayers for them! The good news is that so many of them are eventually adopted into loving families. The hard thing is waiting. Also – hope your barking dogs quiet down soon!!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    When I lived in Costa Rica, it was car alarms, and the same windows. I swear I could sing the different tunes in the same order (the most popular one was like a sampler of all the possible car alarm noises….).

    I’m so happy your kidd-os are are inspiring you to see the big picture (which when you can’t sleep, isn’t easy!) I’ll never understand the strength that kids can show.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      If there’s one thing that would be worse than barking, it would be car alarms. Because they have a tune. Yuck. Hope the school year is going well for you! 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Beautifully written, Lindsay. Thank you for letting go of so many comforts to serve these sweet children! And I too want to give them all a big hug. You are awesome, and thanks for continuing to persevere through the hard times. We are thinking of and praying for you! XO Sonja (& Alex)

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh, Lindsay! Even though you are having this really huge challenge, it sounds like you’ve talked yourself down from it a few times over. All the posts here are so great. Having had a similar problem myself, I can only tell you, short of having proper fitting ear plugs (if you haven’t found ones that fit great yet, keep trying) and having a white noise machine, the thing that worked for me was to learn to sleep with the television on, sleeping on my side with one pillow over my exposed ear. If you have a dvd of a nice quiet movie, put it on low volume, cover your ears and maybe that will help. I learned how to do it so well that it worked like a charm. Bless you and all that you’re doing and I hope you get some relief soon. Sleep deprivation is toxic for us in so many, many ways. Good luck!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, something like not getting enough sleep makes every single other thing so difficult to deal with. I buy these incredibly great earplugs here in Bangkok – I never even used to like using them before, but these work wonders. Do you want me to send you some!??!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Everything is relative. It’s like when a really thin person gains 5 pounds and feels fat…but everyone feels they are so skinny…BUT to them its the end of the world….like these dogs. It would drive me nuts. Everyone needs and deserves sleep. When my kids slept through the night for the first time I woke feeling amazing and couldn’t believe how crappy I had felt with no sleep. Get ear plugs, you deserve them. You can only take care of others when you are taking care of yourself. Get the sleep you need and there is a white noise app for phones…download it.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am so, so sorry about those &@(;$/-,,””%#} dogs! What amazing photos of them…dark and spooky! What a beautiful shot of the precious little girl at the end. Beautiful! Thank you for this honest post. I can’t imagine having to lose all that sleep. Have a wonderful time with your mom.

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    I haven’t slept without silicone earplugs since moving into my within-walking- distance-to-work-but-so-noisy apartment building over 10 years ago. I highly recommend them; they work almost too well to tell you the truth.

    You are grace personified in my opinion. Good luck!

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay – thanks for sharing the good and bad of what you see daily and reminding us to look (at least occasionally) at the world through someone else’s eyes. It often looks much different.
    Now for the sleep problems – I am sending you my favorite personal courier with lots of sleeping solutions as well as a whole lot of hugs from the homefront!! Enjoy!!
    Love you! Dad

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ahhh Lindsay I so feel for you. Sleep is so important for our physical and mental health. Rick and I sleep with a fan on all year round specifically for the “white” noise, the only bad thing is when I go somewhere and it is absolutely quiet its weird. But I can so relate to wanting sleep so bad and not getting it. There have been different times in my life, one being when Dane had his days and nights mixed up, he would literally be awake all night which would have been fine if I could have slept with him during the day…but I had 2 little girls who were up then. I remember laying him between my legs while I would sit up in bed and he’d be happy and playful and I’d be crying and just wanting to sleep, and I would look over at Rick….SOUND ASLEEP and get SO angry!! (sleep deprivation can bring some pretty not so nice thoughts out in a person) Try to squeeze in a nap everyday if you can. I also know that sometimes peoples suggestions, as helpful as we want to be, can actually be annoying or frustrating because we are deprived and feel like nothing will work. But I do want to remind you that there are promises of comfort from Jesus and as hard as it is to focus on Him during the night and not the barking dogs His word says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I WILL give you rest….. Anyway, I am going to be praying for you, praying that there will be a solution and praying that you will get the rest you need. I Love you guys and I am so proud of the work you are doing there and your love for the children! XXOO