Tuesday, 11 December 2018
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Russell Wangersky: A dog’s life

I resemble the following CBC News report from Ontario last week.

“Police were called to a Simcoe home this weekend after a man barked and howled like a dog outside his neighbour’s window. A 41-year-old man was tired of the incessant barking from his neighbour’s dogs, Norfolk County OPP say. So around 2 a.m. Saturday, police say, he stood outside his neighbour’s window and barked. This riled the dogs inside, and they began to ‘bark excessively.’”

The police finally came at around 8 in the morning to warn the two men about the county noise regulations and to mediate a resolution.

A confession — I’ve done that. I’m not proud of it, but I have.

I live in a neighbourhood that’s gone to the dogs. And for the most part, that’s not such a bad thing. Neighbours walk dogs, clean up after dogs, throw balls to dogs, chase dogs around their yards. Norman Rockwell stuff.

There is a dog not far from me now, a big dog with a throaty, metronomic bark. Imagine “Ruff … ruff … ruff … ruff …” each bark-and-break about five seconds long, repeated for as long as an hour and a half when the dog’s left outside, a canine timepiece counting down the minutes until he’s let back inside. It will bark that way consistently, breaking off the pattern only when some other dog barks, at which point the big dog goes berserk for a couple of minutes in response.

It is either outside wanting in, or inside wanting out. I think, actually, that it might have gone mad.

Sometimes, in the summer, when you want the windows open, a soft breeze making the bend in and out, and that barking’s been going on for a while, you’ll hear some other dog bark, and that “some other dog” has been me. I know it’s petty, that it doesn’t fix anything, that it really only makes things worse, but I feel it coming and can’t stop myself — the need to just break the pattern.

I wonder sometimes about what kind of life it is for that dog; the only two things I know about the animal is its steady outdoor call, and the way that, when you walk the sidewalk past the front of its house, that same big dog hurls itself against the glass of the living room window, spit spraying, clawing and barking as if its sole remaining goal in life is to catch and maim a passer-by.

It is either outside wanting in, or inside wanting out. I think, actually, that it might have gone mad.

It reminds me of another dog, when we lived near Signal Hill, a dog whose master would walk with it to the coffee shop next door to our house, tie the dog to a tree, and the dog would howl for the half an hour or more it took for the man to eat his brunch. The second the door opened, the dog would stop howling. I actually spoke to that dog owner, who simply dismissed the idea that his dog could be a nuisance, or that it was cruel to leave it tied outside, especially in the snow or rain. “I’ve never heard him make a sound,” the man blustered. Right.

It all makes me think that maybe, just maybe, there are people who don’t deserve dogs. Don’t deserve their loyalty, their canine dedication.

I wonder what life’s really like for some dogs, to be man’s best friend but only when it’s convenient, and only on man’s schedule.

Out of sight is out of mind?

Only for you, careless dog owner. Only for you.

Not far from my house, a big black dog laments its loneliness. Constantly.

Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@thetelegram.com — Twitter: @wangersky.

Source: https://www.thetelegram.com/opinion/columnists/russell-wangersky-a-dogs-life-256060/

The Bark Box

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