Dear Amy:

My next-door neighbor lets her two small dogs out of her house in the morning at 6:30. Every time they are out there, they bark, not for a long time, but enough that it wakes up my family -- me, my husband, our 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.

It is very hard for me to get back to sleep, and I spend the day exhausted with cranky kids.

I thought that if I asked her nicely if there was any way she could let the dogs out a little later, that she would feel just awful about waking us. Instead, she said that she does not have the luxury of sleeping in and that the dogs need to go out at that time. She said that letting her dogs out around my sleep schedule is "a bit much."

Can you tell me if you think that 6:30 a.m. is a totally reasonable time to let dogs bark outside? Or am I the one who is being totally unreasonable?

The last thing I wanted was to fight with my neighbor, so I told her we'd live with it. But do I have to?


I have to admit that 6:30 a.m. sounds like the shank of the day -- especially when there are young children around. I'm impressed that your family is sleeping at 6:30.

Barking dogs are a fairly commonplace neighborhood sound, and there isn't much that a person can do to fight it, unless the dogs bark an excessive amount at an outrageous hour (you could check out your local noise ordinances).

True, your neighbor didn't respond politely to your complaint, but your children might raise the roof now and then early in the morning or late at night and your neighbor will have to tolerate that -- that's what neighbors do.

Dear Amy:

I am getting married next June to a wonderful man.

It will be my second marriage, his first. When I was married the first time, it was a simple affair. We each had one friend, and it was more of a legal occurrence than anything else.

This time around, I am ready to do it right, and my fiance and I are planning a full-fledged wedding ceremony. We agree on every issue associated with the planning, except one.

He insists that when it comes time to cut the cake that we shove the cake into each other's faces. I think this is horrible!

I want to feel beautiful, not messy, and I don't think that this is a great show of love and respect. It seems petty, but it means a whole lot to me.

What do you think?

Bride-to-Be in Virginia

I am with you.

What was intended as a lovely and intimate gesture of a couple daintily feeding each other has turned into an "Animal House" moment at some weddings. Calculated cake-smashing seems hostile to me.

Fortunately, I have a compromise at hand.

Because you don't like having cake smashed into your face and your fiance does, the obvious answer is for you to smash cake into his face and for him to leave your face alone.

I certainly hope you can talk him out of this.

Dear Amy:

This is regarding "Lucky Dad's" letter about his disabled daughter belonging to the Best Buddies club.

I am not disabled, but I was involved with Best Buddies while I was in high school. I loved it. My buddy and I used to go to the movies, shopping and out to dinner all the time.

My most memorable moment was when my buddy told me that I was her best friend. It made me feel like I had truly made a difference in her life, like she did in mine.

Best Buddy in Maryland

That's the great benefit of being a "Best Buddy" -- the friendship runs both ways. Way to go.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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