Barking dog a test of patience

I will formally make the following declaration: I love animals.
Growing up on a farm exposed me to the cycle of life, witnessing birth firsthand and then the unavoidable other side–death.
Death wasn’t always pretty, but respect and reverence prevailed, my father’s head bowed with sadness that was almost palpable.
“Life,” he said, “means respecting death of even the smallest creature.”
Now that I’ve assured you, I need to make a confession. I’d like to kill the dog that lives behind me, or to the south, or from wherever the non-stop barking is coming from.
Do dogs not get laryngitis? Don’t they tire of their own racket? And the other neighbours, are they deaf? Or is everyone just more tolerant than I?
I used to consider myself tolerant. I happily retrieve the airborne recyclables escaping the Blue Boxes that are upwind from me. I feel almost noble gathering the debris from the bushes or whatever it was that interrupted the garbage’s flight path.
Parties that go on in the neighbourhood until the wee hours of the morning just have me lowering my windows in order to sleep; no big deal.
I don’t react to the truck across the street that is missing its muffler system, or to the kids who, on their way to school, insist on pulling up my driveway markers.
But this dog . . . this dog I’d like to bite.
It’s not just me who is uncomfortable with this barking. The neighbour to my immediate south has a big dog that probably has a really big voice. This dog looks at me, as if to say, “It’s not me. Honest.”
I think he’d say, if he could, “Someone shut that dog up. He’s giving all dogs a bad name.” He looks almost sheepish, even regretful, that they share the same genus.
I’d like to knock on the dog owner’s door, but what would I say? “Umm, excuse me, but that noise that is coming from your yard. Ummm.”
“What’s that,” the owner might say, leaning forward, hand cupped around his ear.
“That noise,” I’d say, maybe gesturing a little in the direction of the backyard.
“I can’t hear you,” he’d say, leaning even closer.
You get my point.
I couldn’t compel him to dispose of one of his children if they were tearing down my fence or eating the vegetables out of my garden. I couldn’t buy him a new puppy and suggest he give it a go instead and let the other dog run away.
No matter what I said, it would make the neighbour thing awkward. We’d have to avoid each other’s eyes at the post office, change aisles at the grocery store.
I guess the bottom line is, how do you stop a dog from barking? It’s what they do. It’s like a baby crying—no one enjoys it, least of all the baby, but it’s what babies do.
I could move I suppose, but the next neighbour might be a chainsaw artist or a heavy metal band musician, or just someone who thought they were a musician and turns out they aren’t.
I could bark back or get a dog that barks even louder, but that wouldn’t really solve the noise pollution. I could wear ear protectors, but then I might miss some noise that I’m meant to hear, like “look out.”
I guess the lesson here is tolerance. Living in a community is much like living in a family. Some days you’d like to trade your sister in for some magic beans or any old beans, really. There are other days, though, when your brother who peed the bed when he slept with you as a kid is pretty neat and is a perfect match should you need a kidney or liver.
It’s not always sunshine. I’m sure my neighbours don’t enjoy their barking dog any more than I do, but he’s family now, they’re stuck with him.
And maybe the dog will grow out of it; maybe he’ll take up digging or chasing cars.
wendistewart@live.ca

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