Sunday, July 12, 2009

Silence and Its Antithesis: the Barking Dog Syndrome

If I were a dog, I’d be the type that people would only hear barking when there was a reason to bark, like if I saw a cute guy or spotted a skunk or heard a mountain lion or was upset with my owner for not giving me a juicy bone.

And I’d wag my tail a lot—particularly after I barked at the cute guy.

I would not bark garrulously, for fear someone wouldn’t like me, or would walk away and not say why, or would kill me. Like most, I lack complete confidence. I’d do my best to behave, so hopefully others would like me.

Last year we had a lot of burglaries in our region, so perhaps homeowners bought dogs to protect their property. But like car alarms that only seem to go off on non-break-in occasions, barking dogs don’t seem to be alerting anyone to danger.

The dogs and their owners in my home’s vicinity must have their fur stuffed with groundless confidence, because all I hear is obnoxious, incessant, peace-draining barks. Sometimes perpetual barking fills what should be our night’s silence. I hear more noise than a bar filled with bikers and a band on a Friday night.

I must be the only one who hears the commotion, though, because if someone lived even a couple of houses from any of these abhorrent dog owners, they would conquer the explosive cries with a neighborly little chat or love note, right?

But I live two or three blocks from these thoughtless meatheads and know not precisely where they are. You see, many of the barking-dog owners in a three-block radius of my home sense when I put my jammies on. They know I won’t venture out in the dark wearing jammies to hunt them down.

But soon I may. The mercury is rising.

Oh my God! This just happened. It’s 11 p.m. Two dogs have been barking at each other like jealous boyfriends for 10 minutes. A shot just rang out. Not a firecracker or bottle rocket, a shotgun sound—and the dogs aren’t barking anymore. Hmm, silence : )

Is there something wrong with silence? Apparently the law thinks peace is a good thing.*

The other evening as I prepared to sit in my hot tub, a backyard neighbor’s high-pitched-yipping dog indicated displeasure with its life via uninterrupted yapping for 12 minutes. Mindless little moron.

Preparing to help its yelp with a little pop of the pea shooter, I summoned my strength and opted for a little silence-breaking soliloquy myself.

“No!” I yelled out the window. The pinhead barked a little louder—then went inside.

Minutes later while sitting in hot water, a retriever-sounding dog wailed and screamed and sounded as if it were being castrated without aid of brandy just four houses east of the first dog. I decided to pour vinegar on its wounds later, but first loudly sang, “Staaahaaaaaaaap!” (That’s an elongated “stop,” but if I’d typed a series of o’s, it would look like “stoop.”)

Shortly after my song, the dog stopped—then went inside.

My home should be my sanctuary. Things in my midst should evoke peace. That’s not been the case.

I wonder, 
Am I the only one who hears these dogs yelp?
Are these dog owners deaf?
Are the neighbors of these owners deaf?
Are these dog owners ever home?
Do these rude dog owners give a hoot whether their neighbors three blocks away can’t sleep all night because their dog barks and lives without the attention it apparently needs?
What about all the neighbors in between the dog and three blocks away?

If I were a dog, I’d hunt down the owners of neglected and abused dogs and bite them. Real hard.

To the inconsiderados:
Your dog is driving us nuts,
and frankly, we haven’t the guts
to say to its face
“you’re invading our space,”
so perhaps you would do it for us. Amen.

I’m thinking about starting two new services:
(1) I’ll post barking-dog videos with addresses on Auntie,
(2) for $10, I’ll send an anonymous letter with a nicer poem, or just the letter of the law, to the person you request.

Let’s hear your story of how you got a dog owner to stop his or her dog’s barking.

Remember: It is not the dog’s fault.

copyright © 2009 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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* For El Paso County, Colorado:
Is there a set time that animals are allowed to bark?
Per the City/County ordinance an animal is not allowed to bark and disturb the peace and quiet of the neighborhood at any time, day or night. Please visit the Animal Control Ordinances page for more information.
Barking Dogs
Incessant barking can be very disturbing to the peace and quiet of a neighborhood. In addition, it violates County ordinances to harbor such a disturbance. If your neighbor's noisy pet is habitually disturbing you, please call the Humane Society at 473-1741 to learn about possible courses of action.

City/County Law
It shall be unlawful to own or keep a dog which, by barking, howling, baying or other utterance, disturbs the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. (6.7.115) (Res. 78-136, Sec 16)


  1. I wonder,
    Am I the only one who hears these dogs yelp?
    No, you're not.

    Are these dog owners deaf?
    only to their own dogs

    Are the neighbors of these owners deaf?

    Are these dog owners ever home?
    yes, they don't care

    Do these rude dog owners give a hoot whether their neighbors three blocks away can’t sleep all night because their dog barks and lives without the attention it apparently needs?
    no, they don't see their own ineptness

    What about all the neighbors in between the dog and three blocks away?
    Bet if you took a poll many would feel the same as you do.

  2. Barking dogs, what can I say, a 2 X 4 to the owners head? I'm pretty lucky, this neighborhood doesn't seem to have any barking dogs.
    The neighbors are pretty noisy though. Late at night. Screaming and yelling. It makes me wonder if they belong together or is this their own personal hell.
    Also plenty of cats. The cats watch me. It's creepy, I think they know I'm allergic to them. Or maybe... no that can't be.

  3. I must have received one of your anonymous letters from a neighbor about my dogs. Except my dogs are not out at night, but for an hour or so in the middle of the day. And my dogs don't bark incessantly for hours - they bark occasionally when they have a reason, like the cat teasing them by walking on the top of the fence. But now that these anonymous people called the cops about my dogs, I keep them inside. I sure wouldn't want their occasional barking to drown out the lovely sounds of traffic noise, jet, trains, and artillery at Ft. Carson.


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